Published June 25, 2009
When it comes to politics and extramarital affairs the two, sadly, go hand in hand. There's Edwards, Vitter, Clinton, Fossella, McGreevy, Sherwood, Hart, Spitzer, Condit, Ensign and now Governor Mark Sanford (I could go on, and on, but my columns have word limits).
When this situation occurs, as it regularly does, the public constantly finds itself debating over hairsplitting, that is obscure theories of moral relativism --- but right or left, there is no question that adultery lacks party affiliation. It's driven by power lust, or just plain lust, not political stripes. But what's the common thread, besides a complete lapse of judgment and perception of untouchability? Answer: they're all men. So should we be electing more women instead?
When it comes to females and elected office, it's typically about power, not sex. There are most certainly exceptions, and women absolutely aren't immune to cheating, but when is the last time you saw a pant-chasing woman politician admit to soliciting sexual services? Or one caught hopping a jet to South America to visit her Latin lover? The D.C. Madam's client list gone public didn't exactly have the folks who frequent the Lindy Boggs women's lounge in the House of Representatives hiding for cover. Yes, Diane Feinstein likely faces jaw-dropping documents at her desk everyday. A Chippendale's calendar is not one of them.
Men are genetically engineered to think about sex more than women. You don't need a scientific background to figure that one out. Think of all the surveys and studies (or just think about your boyfriend or brother). Drug companies spend billions on drugs like Viagra for a reason. Playboy's circulation = 2.5 million. Playgirl's circulation = 0 (it migrated to the Web due to financial troubles). Now add power to that equation and you have aforementioned list of offenders.
Women morph into totally different creatures when granted authority. We get thick-skinned. Bossy. Become bullies or borderline masculine. We turn into Barbara "call me Senator," Boxer, not Bill "call me daddy" Clinton. Female elected officals don't typically have trouble keeping their zippers up, or their skirts down. We just have trouble. Period. And pun intended.
Which brings me to my next question:
Is more estrogen is the answer to an ethically ailing, morally decaying body politic? Would we be spared the slimy, disappointing marital disclosure with fewer men in control? An all female Congress would bring about snares, but think about what it would eliminate.
It's true there are a disproportionate number of men in office than women. (For the record, I'm not debating the law of averages). However, there are more women in office than ever and still no salacious soap opera like sex scandals.
In fact, a 2008 Pew Research Center study shows that "when it comes to honesty, intelligence and a handful of other character traits the public values highly in leaders, they rate women superior to men." When asked who makes a better political leader, 69 percent said men and women equally make good leaders (21 percent said men make better leaders, six percent said women) yet men still hold a majority of positions of power. Baby pressures and the ol' boys club aside, what gives?
Females arguably work twice as hard to achieve power than men do, even to this day. If we're smart but also attractive they call us bimbos no matter where we went to college, how many degrees we have, or how many languages we speak. If we're tough they call us bitches. Emotional equals weak. Passionate? Critics' code for crazy. And no matter what we look like you can bet we're getting scrutiny from both genders on our hair and wardrobe. Just look at Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. Would anyone argue they've had it easy?
By the time women have risen to a position of power, we've invested far too much to blow it on prostitutes and private jets. We're more careful with what's at stake. Our intuition and perspective is driven by leadership, not libido, respect, not raunch.
Male or female, every elected official has the duty to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, but when it comes to bedroom behavior, the guys consistently get it wrong. Would more women get it right? To sum it up: is the sad status quo more evidence that spatial judgment in government is desperately needed? Will high heels eliminate the real heels? Uncle Sam out, Aunt Samantha in? I'm just asking.