The names of presidents who are adulterers are well known. They include some of which appear on most lists of best presidents – FDR, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jack Kennedy, Bill Clinton. Add to that the list of senators like Gary Hart, John Edwards, John Ensign. And for good measure, add former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
I don’t want to tar all personalities with the same brush. There are certainly many presidents, even in recent history, about whom nothing has even been hinted at infidelity or improper behavior toward women. I would like to include on that list Harry Truman, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Nixon, Reagan, both Bushes, and of course our current president Barack Obama. You’ll notice the offense has nothing to do with political parties. Republicans and democrats are equal opportunity offenders.
The lives and attitudes of presidents are closely studied and reported. We generally don’t hear about the private lives of other high officials, unless they come to light the way those of Strauss-Kahn and Schwarzenegger have. But what explains it?
Is it the strong dominating personalities, which have propelled these men to power? Is it women are more likely to allow or even encourage advances from men who are famous or powerful? An examination of the lives of famous athletes or performing artists may lend itself some credence to that theory.
Then there’s the biologic explanation. The alpha male – males of all species are generally sexual aggressors. It’s argued that hormones influence that. And that it’s necessary for the propagation of the species. In life and in literature. Females frequently resist or discourage the advance of male suitors. Could it be that those alpha males are great risk takers, that they receive the same satisfaction from sexual conquests as they do from business or political achievements?
Well, standards have changed greatly as have attitudes toward marriage, pre-marital sex, homosexuality. Americans still demand strong family values from their leaders. And they resent being lied to. They suspect that a candidate who deceives his wife can’t be trusted to be honest with his constituents. He’s a hypocrite.
What seems to be clear is that some of our leaders who are privy to state secrets have learned to keep their lips zipped, but not their pants.