Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I have this theory about life that some of my friends and associates often find amusing. It goes like this: MEN CHEAT. As the years have gone by, I have added an addendum: POWERFUL AND/OR WEALTHY MEN CHEAT EVEN MORE. I don’t know about you, but I am beyond tired of hearing about married politicians having affairs, particularly those who have been so vocal about “family values.” Last week we were let in on Nevada Senator John Ensign’s tawdry tale, which definitely includes an affair, and possibly blackmail, payoffs and, oh well, you can pretty much write the rest, right? Today it’s South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, the married father of four who missed Father’s Day this year because he was in Argentina canoodling with his babe. Oh God, is anybody as over this as I am?

The Mark and John shows of the last couple of weeks are just more of the same in the ongoing drama that is Bill Clinton, John Edwards, et al. Oh, did I mention the most recent et al. includes a Miami priest named Father Alberto Cutie (I promise on all that’s holy that the guy’s last name is “Cutie”). Seems Fr. Cutie (below, left) was caught all cuddly on a public beach with his girlfriend. Oy. Men, in my view, like to see what they can get away with. In middle or post-middle age it gets the juices going, if you will, to have a woman who is willing to snuggle up and keep it on the down low. There is almost a script to which they adhere: First, they come up with multiple reasons to be away from home. At first, they keep their assignations very quiet and private. But as time passes, they become bolder and in some cases begin going out in public. Much more exciting that way, right? Reminder: Men like to see what they can get away with. Then, they get caught. Pretty much every time. The media, you know. Then there is the solemn, sometimes tearful press conference. Then the headlines.

I am not here to pass judgment on the sanctity or lack thereof of marriage. And I’m really not here to pass judgment on how anybody conducts his sex life. Believe me. I’m so not. But I do question the carelessness with which these guys treat their professional responsibilities. Today, it should be noted, a public watchdog group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed formal complaints with the Senate Ethics Committee and the Federal Elections Commission calling for investigations of Sen. Ensign (right).
As has been reported, the woman with whom Ensign had the affair was an employee of his. Why did her salary almost double during the period of their relationship? Her husband also worked for Ensign. It appears both were fired. Why? It has also been reported that Ensign made a handsome severance payment to the woman. That payment was never reported in his campaign finance report. Why not? Her husband received $6,000 when he separated from Ensign’s staff. It was recorded as “vacation time.” That’s quite a payment for vacation time. Some have suggested it was a payoff to get the husband out of the way. Was it?

As for Sanford, (below, left) last week he was reported missing in action. His staff did not know where he was, although they speculated he was hiking in the woods. He did not officially leave anyone in charge of the state of South Carolina while he supposedly communed with nature, but actually communed au naturale with a certain Maria of Argentina. In his absence Lieutenant Gov. Andrew Bauer said, "I cannot take lightly that his staff has not had communication with him for more than four days, and that no one, including his own family, knows his whereabouts." There is good reason for Bauer’s sentiments. Suppose there had been a natural disaster, such as major flooding while the Governor was missing. As Governor, he is in charge of the state’s National Guard. No one else has the authority to deploy the Guard to the affected areas. What would happen? As Governor, Sanford is the only individual legally authorized to commute a death sentence to life imprisonment at the last minute. Suppose his trip coincided with an execution. Then what? I could go on, but you begin to see the irresponsible behavior Sanford exhibited by not putting Bauer in charge while he clandestinely left the country.

The moral of this story goes something like this: If you make a decision to serve the public, your choice comes with certain add-ons: First, you will most likely sacrifice most or all of your privacy, and if you need a little ‘sumpin sumpin’ on the side, we will find out about it. Second, although you are in a rather dishonest business - that of government and legislative management - we are expecting you to tell the truth. And again, if you do not, we will find out about it. And finally, yes, you are being held to a higher moral standard that you might be had you decided to be a cashier at Target. And if you compromise your morality for your own self-indulgent reasons, we will find out about it.

Just ask John Edwards. Or Eliot Spitzer. Or Bill Clinton. So, what should happen? Ensign and Sanford should resign. Now. It’s not about sex. It’s about responsibility and doing the job we elected you to do. Man up and step down.

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