The Thinker

What’s a horny politician to do?

Ack! Another politician is caught with his pants down! Just what we needed: a little jolt of scandalous cappuccino to wake us up. After all, the presidential campaign has gotten a bit boring of late. Even political junkies like me are beginning to nod off. What we needed was a distraction. Fortunately, New York Governor Elliot Spitzer provided just what we needed. We learned recently that on Valentines Day of all days he hoofed it down to the Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C. and had an extremely expensive sexual experience with a very high priced 25-year-old prostitute with the doubtlessly assumed name of Kristen.

Sexual tourists of the nation’s capital will now have to add room 871 of the Mayflower Hotel to their list of destinations. It is about equidistant anyhow from the Tidal Basin (where stripper Fanne Fox and Arkansas Congressman Wilbur Mills were found drinking and driving in 1974) and the Capitol steps (where Rita Jenrette and Congressman husband reputedly made whoopee back in the 1980s). The Mayflower Hotel is also not that far from the Vista Hotel, where back in 1990 former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, married at the time, was famously caught smoking crack cocaine while his “long time female friend” observed. Doubtless, if D.C. hotel rooms could talk, they would be deafening.

I had no inkling that Elliot Spitzer was dealing with a few personal demons. However, I am not surprised. Someone as popular and successful as Spitzer probably deserved a comeuppance of some sort. This man after all was such a phenomenal Attorney General of New York State that to many Americans he was a household name. Unlike some recent U.S. Attorney Generals, he was obsessed with ensuring that the law was vigorously enforced, especially against the powerful. He took on price fixers, securities firms, insurance companies, the record companies and even police corruption in the town of Watkill in upstate New York. If he appeared on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, he need not worry about the thunderous applause, just a chorus of boos. No wonder he was elected governor with almost 70% of the vote.

His record as governor thus far has been a disappointment. With these scandalous revelations, it is an open question whether he will remain in office. Still, Bill Clinton had a rocky start as president too. He eventually won a second term. In spite of his own moral failings, he retired with near record high approval ratings. Perhaps Spitzer’s hesitancy to leave office is that he hopes that some of Bill’s luck will rub off on him. Republicans in Albany who want to impeach him might want to review the political implications of Bill Clinton’s impeachment first. Most Americans feel that moral failings while in office that are not illegal are politically excusable. Thus far, Spitzer has not been charged with any crime.

Why did Spitzer do it? I cannot read his mind but as a man a few years older than he is, I think that I have a good idea. I believe that he did it because like many married men he was not quite satisfied with what he was getting at home. Obviously, I have no idea what his sex life is like. His wife is quite attractive. I think in Spitzer’s mind, once you have made the dubious decision to step out on your wife, having sex with a prostitute seemed the lesser of many evils.

Ironically, if Spitzer were a Shi’ite Muslim in Iraq, he could come to an agreement with a local woman to be his wife for a day, get his rocks off and the clerics would bless it. Alas, he lives in America where unless you are polyamorous or have an open marriage, such options are closed to married people. Having sex with a prostitute can have some advantages. First, you cannot be accused of having an emotional affair. Some women will overlook a sexual affair but will string you up by your heels for having an emotional one. If, like Elliot Spitzer, you spend $4300 for an encounter with a down payment on a second one, you can be accused of being a cheater and wasting a lot of money, but you can at least escape the emotional affair rap.

The sad reality is that if you are a horny married politician your options are very limited. You could come on to that buxom secretary or filing clerk but such dalliances usually turn into steamy emotional affairs that go toxic and then public. That will not do for an ambitious politician, particularly one that looked like presidential material in 2012 or 2016. Besides, you have an image to maintain in the workplace so showing this side of yourself is very risky. You can have an affair with your right hand but that feels like second-class sex. A high-class hooker may cost a ton of money, but they tend to be discreet. That is in part how they command such extraordinary fees.

I hope Elliot Spitzer at least had a trusted partner in crime. I hope he was not dialing for escort services on his cell phone or finding them on Craigslist. I hope he had a way of funneling the money through a third party. Even so, there are risks in these contractual affairs and for a change, he got stung.

I will probably draw the wrath of wives everywhere (and many husbands too) by wishing New Yorkers would cut him a little slack. I felt sorry for Hillary Clinton when her husband’s tawdry oral affair with Monica Lewinski made the light of day a decade ago. At the same time, I did not feel that it diminished Clinton’s competency as president. Like most Americans, I saw his impeachment as a manufactured hullabaloo. If Spitzer ends his political career over this scandal, New Yorkers and Americans will probably be the poorer. His hypocrisy is evident, but we are all hypocrites, just generally in different matters and in different degrees. All of us make mistakes. I think this is a forgivable political mistake. His wife will have to figure out whether it is a forgivable marital mistake.

As I once outlined, there are many reasons for infidelity. This transgression has the hallmark of being one of the more forgivable transgressions. It appears that Spitzer had powerful sexual needs that his wife would either not accommodate or he was too embarrassed to express. I remain skeptical that either sex is naturally inclined toward monogamy. Wives who expect monogamy from their husbands had best recognize that they are fighting Mother Nature. They can reduce the odds by exceeding expectations in the bedroom. If you are a once a week type and he is a once a day type, you might want to find a way to be a twice a week type. If you refuse to do X, Y and Z because you think they are kinky you might want to do your best to do X, Y and Z at least occasionally. Otherwise, particularly if he has a very high sex drive, he may go find X, Y and Z somewhere else. Sexual kinks can have this sort of power and if press reports are correct Spitzer had a few.

As for politicians and sex, while it seems that they go together like bread and butter, I am willing to bet they are no more inclined toward infidelity than the rest of us. Sexual sins seem to be non-discriminatory. If infidelity made people deathly ill, you could not get a room in a hospital due to the shortage of hospital beds. Men like Spitzer who avail themselves of a call girl are bucking the odds. The truth is that while prominent men caught with their pants down make the papers regularly, for a man to cheat, he generally needs a woman. Since most men avoid prostitutes, roughly as many women are having lapsed periods of virtue as men.

Spitzer deserves a political slap on the wrist, perhaps a censure by the State Assembly, and then, like with the Larry Craig scandal, everyone should move on. This is a matter between the Mr. and Mrs. Spitzer. Politicians who actually work for the benefit of the people they serve are rare enough creatures. Spitzer was one of these public servants. There is no point in making them an endangered species for these truly minor kafuffles.

 

2 Responses to “What’s a horny politician to do?”

  1. 2:45 pm on March 17 2008, Aubrey said:

    I find myself agreeing with almost everything you say, but I have to take exception to this one. Or, at least, I would like to hear your thoughts on the fact that when Spitzer was governor, he went on a crusade against prostitution rings, putting into jail the very people who made his secret sin possible? How is that forgiveable? If he’d instead tried to legalize prostitution, or just ignored the issue, then fine, yes, I’ll concede it’s simply a personal matter between he and his wife.

  2. 3:19 pm on March 17 2008, Mark said:

    How about this: as Attorney General, Spitzer had the obligation to enforce the law, and this includes prostitution laws. But he may (and probably did) personally feel that prostitution laws were counterproductive. That doesn’t excuse his lawbreaking, but it might provide a rationale in that his official actions were consistent with New York law while his private conduct was not.

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