Showing posts with label Mark Sanford. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mark Sanford. Show all posts

Thursday, January 12, 2012

U.S. Political Wall of Shame: 2000 to 2011


"I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky."
President Bill Clinton



Rep. ANTHONY WEINER (D-NY) 
In 2011, the newly married Congressman admitted to sending sexually suggestive photos of himself to several women through his Twitter account. He finally admitted that he had engaged in "several inappropriate" electronic relationships with six women over three years, and that he publicly lied about a photo of himself sent over Twitter to a college student in Seattle over a week ago. (source: ABC News)

Rep. CHRIS LEE (R-NY) 
A "family values" Republican, Lee even talked about passing legislation to educate children on internet safety. In 2011, he resigned hours after a news report that the married Congressman had sent a shirtless picture of himself flexing his muscles to a woman via Craigslist, along with flirtatious emails. He did not use a pseudonym or a false email address, but relied on his congressional email for all communication. (source: CBS News)

Rep. MARK SOUDER (R-IN) 
A staunch advocate of abstinence and family values who got high marks in his district for his evangelical beliefs. He received an A-plus rating from the National Rifle Association and a 100 percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee. In 2010, he resigned to avoid an ethics investigation into his admitted extramarital affair with a female staffer. Famously, he and she had made a public video in which they both extolled the virtues of sexual abstinence.  (source: Washington Post)

Sen. LARRY CRAIG (R-ID) 
In 2007 Craig was arrested for "lewd conduct" in a Minneapolis airport bathroom. He sent an undercover cop a coded message with some flirtatious foot tapping in a public restroom known for male-on-male romps. Craig, as always, denied any wrongdoing, because as you know, bathroom play doesn't make a gay. (source: Time)

Rep. MARK FOLEY (R-Fla) 
He introduced several pieces of legislation intended to protect minors from sexual predators. In 2006, someone leaked a series of sexually explicit instant messages between Foley and teenage boys--namely those who formally served as congressional pages. Oh, the irony. (source: Washington Post)

Gov. ELIOT SPITZER (D-NY) 
After some sketchy transactions in early 2008, the IRS feared that Democratic New York Gov. Spitzer might have been the victim of extortion or identity theft. Actually, he was a paying customer of a big-time prostitution service. Long story short: He lost his job; his wife was publicly humiliated. Ashley Dupre, the call girl he made famous, now writes a sex column for the New York Post. (source: Time)

Sen. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC) 
At the start of the decade, many hailed Edwards as this decade's answer to Bill Clinton. He was a handsome, charming, Southern good ol' boy who fought for the little guy and stuck with his cancer-stricken wife when she got sick. But he turned out to be a not-so-great husband. Edwards had an affair with a woman who worked on his campaign, and maybe fathered her child. (source: Time)

TED HAGGARD (PRESIDENT, National Assoc. of Evangelicals) 
He was pastor of one of the largest churches in the country. He spoke with former President George W. Bush weekly. He was famous for his anti-gay rhetoric, so many took joy in 2006 when they learned that he was getting both his salad tossed and his brain cells fried by a male prostitute. What's worse than a homophobic homosexual with a meth addiction? (source: NBC News)

Gov. JIM McGREEVY (D-NJ) 
He quit politics in 2004 after announcing that he was a "gay American.' McGreevey had come under considerable scrutiny for appointing Golan Cipel, an Israeli national, as his top security adviser.  Turns out that Cipel was his “himstress.” After Cipel threatened to file a sexual harassment suit against the governor, McGreevey resigned, came out of the closet, got a divorce and a new boyfriend. All's well that ends well? (source: CNN)

Mayor KWAME KILPATRICK (D-MI) 
We had high hopes for this young, bright politician who dubbed himself the "hip-hop mayor" and promised to steer Detroit in a new direction, but that narrative shifted to a tawdry tale of a sexting politico consumed with sex and lies. In Jan 2008, the Detroit Free Press published text messages between the married Kilpatrick and his chief of staff. Both lied under oath about their affair and both ended up in jail. (source: Time)

Gov. MARK SANFORD (R-SC) 
This Republican South Carolina governor takes the "And I Am Telling You" approach to political scandal: If you want him out, you better throw him out because he's not leaving on his own accord. What's his crime? He told his staff last summer that he was "hiking the Appalachian Trail." What was he really doing? The married father of three was hiking through the streets of Buenos Aires with his Argentine mistress. As a result, he faces 37 ethics charges. Good luck with that, Mark. (source: Time)

Rep. GARY CONDIT (D-CA) 
Former Congressman known for his "pro-family politics" became a household name in 2001 after a young woman he'd been having an affair with, Chandra Levy, went missing. After 67 days, Condit acknowledged the affair but denied any involvement in her disappearance. Levy's remain were found more than a year later in a park in Washington, D.C. (source: BBC)

Rep. VITO FOSSELLA (R-NY) 
Got busted for having an affair back in 2008 after being stopped for a DUI just three blocks from the home of Laura Fay, the other woman.  Fay was an Air Force intelligence officer working for the pentagon when they first hooked up. The affair got pretty hot and steamy, and even went international when the two carried it over to the UK in 2003. It got so serious, and they had a kid together, but no marriage. She bailed him out of jail. (source: NY Times)

Gov. BOB WISE (D-WV) 
Wise made the mistake of hooking up with Angela Mascia-Frye, who has since dropped the -Frye because her husband divorced her. Phil Frye, the pissed-off husband, not only called the two of them out on their shenanigans, but also up and ran for governor in a bid not for the seat (because he had no chance of winning), but simply to annoy Bob Wise and call more attention to his hot little secret. They do drama differently in Appalachia. (source: Manolith)


Sen. JOHN ENSIGN (R-NV) 
This guy was a real piece of work, but not nearly as bad as his buddy’s wife, with whom he had an affair for quite some time before she finally turned on him — for cash. Ensign is a Senator from Nevada, and still is, but this one hurt. (source: Time)

Assemblyman MIKE DUVALL (R-Yorba Linda) 
His story is hilariously entertaining. The guy was in the middle of a committee appropriations meeting, during a break, and didn’t realize that his mic was still live as he talked about his affair and all sorts of naughty things to his chuckling buddy. The whole conversation was recorded, and aired for the world to hear, and it’s worth a listen. At least the guy had fun, right? (source: LA Times)

Rep. TIM MAHONEY (D-Fla) 
He took his post as a replacement for a guy who was run out of office after getting caught sending dirty IMs to young male intern. By comparison, Mahoney wasn’t bad, but his constituents still weren’t happy about his affair with Patricia Allen, a staffer of his. She found out he had other girls and wanted either more, or nothing, so he fired her. That didn’t work out too well. He ended up paying her $121,000 to keep quiet, only it was too late. (source: Politico)

Rep. DON SHERWOOD (R-PA) 
In 2004 he had an incident. Apparently he and a woman named Cynthia Ore, who was not his wife, liked to get a little rough. Sometimes they got too rough, and Ore called the cops from the bathroom of Sherwood’s DC apartment one weird night that Sherwood would sorely regret. Not only did his opponent bring the whole thing to light during re-election campaigning, but Ore sued him, claiming multiple assaults throughout their relationship. (source: Outside the Beltway)

Monday, June 13, 2011

My Cheating Heart


“Men cheat for the same reason that dogs lick their balls... because they can.”
Kim Cattrall

I was in my early twenties when I got the chance to work with a famous actor. This guy was quite a legend, known in the industry as one of the greats who had cemented his reputation with a series of huge hits in the 1970’s. Sure, we were now in the 1990’s, but fame can last longer in the film industry, even if you have done nothing recently. Partly because it is a small and incestuous group and partly because newcomers will put anyone remotely famous on a pedestal in the hope that they will give them their big break. So reputations endure from one generation to the next. This guy was no Cary Grant or Amitabh Bachchan, but he was a household name with my parent’s generation.

We did a few ad films with this actor over the period of a year, so I got to know him pretty well. One night we were sitting and discussing the script, in his office, over drinks and after we both had a few too many drinks I finally summoned the courage to ask him the question that was on the mind of every twenty-year old. “Are all the stories true about the women and have you cheated on your wife?” It must have been the combination of the vast amounts of alcohol and the fact that this old timer had a wild eyed young man in audience that led him to answer my question with great seriousness. At first he mumbled and stumbled on about fame, power, money and how all these things made men attractive to women, for about ten minutes (most of which were pretty incoherent) and then went on to tell me that it boiled down to one simple thing – that it was not like he wanted to or planned to cheat on his wife “but when women are throwing themselves at me, hour after hour, day after day and week after week – then what am I supposed to do, how many times can I say no and how long can a poor man resist such temptation?” At this point he looked at me triumphantly, as if expecting a pat on the back for the effort he had made trying not to cheat on his wife. I not only did not offer one but told him it was wrong to cheat on his wife. He laughed and suggested we have another drink. I will admit that as a twenty-one year old I was impressed with his position and predicament, but still I had trouble reconciling the cheating part. Most twenty something men are so obsessed with women and sex that rationalizing an argument for cheating can be a factor of immaturity, inexperience and early untamed manhood. However, we do grow up and once we reach our thirties we begin to have a completely different perspective on life and women. The fundamental change in my thirties was instead of feeling some sense of admiration and envy for men like the actor; I began to feel sorry for men like him. Adding notches to your belt in your twenties, before marriage, can be chalked down to wild-eyed boyhood, but doing this in your forties and beyond, especially as a married man, is nothing more than pathetic and boils down to insecurity and lack of integrity.

Here is the one thing that there is no getting around. Cheating on your spouse is a conscious decision one makes. It is not something that happens unconsciously when one consumes a lot of alcohol or uncontrollably because a woman is repeatedly throwing herself at a man. Think about it this way: if the same man who cheats on his wife is offered an opportunity to sleep with the most gorgeous woman in the world, but told that he has to jump off the top of the Empire State Building right after – would he still do it, even if he was drunk? It really is that simple. Men cheat because they believe they can get away with it. That they will be able to grovel, beg and get their wives forgiveness; and most of them do. Everyone has opportunities to cheat and everyone can make a mistake, but those men who have a pattern of cheating do so knowing full well they are doing wrong and still go ahead with it. What it boils down to once you clear away all the psychobabble excuses about personal issues, childhood experiences and personality types, is quite simply the difference between men with ethics, morals and character, and those without.

Cheating and abusive behavior among men in power has been around longer than the world’s oldest profession. In 1791, Alexander Hamilton started an affair with a married woman, while he was secretary of the US Treasury. When the affair and cover-up were exposed, he published a pamphlet defending his affair by saying that he never abused any public resources – sound familiar? Today, there seems to be an epidemic among elected officials all over the world, and all of them are using Mr. Hamilton’s defense, when caught, as a reason not to resign their office. What is greatly worrying to me is that these men all have one thing in common, and that is they believe they did nothing wrong since they did not break the law. But the issue is not the law. It is one of their word and their bond, and the trust that we have put in them. They have broken their vows of marriage and clearly misled and lied to their constituents often over a period of many years. Take Mark Sanford (Governor of South Carolina) who lied about his whereabouts for close to week, and finally when concerns about his disappearance started to grow, he held a tearful press conference blubbering on about his Argentine soul mate. I am glad his wife walked straight out the door with the kids, but he too refused to resign his office. Then there is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s recent revelation that he fathered a child with his housekeeper (the same time his wife was pregnant with their first) and kept his secret for fourteen years, while the housekeeper brought up his children under the same roof.  Conveniently, Arnold came clean and sought forgiveness right after his political career ended. Or to more serious charges against the former President of Israel, Moshe Katsav, who last year was found guilty on two counts of rape. He had been dogged for years with charges of sexually harassing and abusing women, but clearly believed he would get away with it because of the office he held. Sure Mr. Katsav’s charges are more serious and he did break laws, but the underlying principle and premise is the same. These men are clearly drunk on power and abuse their position to prey on women; believing that they are not only bulletproof, but not answerable to anyone for their actions. The fact that politicians, especially today, living in a 24x7 media and technology fishbowl still believe they can get away with doing this boggles my mind, and tells me how deluded and desperate these men really are.

The latest scandal involves a rising star in the NY Democratic party who it seems has been sexting and tweeting lewd messages and naked photos of himself to college girls and porn stars. He has been married less than a year and his wife is three months pregnant. When the story first broke he went on a media blitz totally denying it and claiming that his account was hacked. When it became clear that the blogger who broke the story had more incriminating evidence, including, women who had been victims willing to talk, it was only then that Anthony Weiner decided he needed to come clean, beg for forgiveness and seek “treatment.” I am terribly curious about the idea that one can get cured for being a cheater, a serial liar and for completely lacking character. The bottom line is not if these men broke laws or if their wives forgave them, but the simple fact that they knowingly lied to protect themselves. We put our trust and faith in them to make important decisions about our lives and future and they broke that trust, demonstrated extremely poor judgment and are no longer fit to represent us.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cause Célèbre

"In the future, everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes.”
Andy Warhol

Little did Mr. Warhol know how prophetic his words would be, and more importantly that he would be turning in his grave about how pathetic our definition of celebrity has come to be. Celebrity as defined in the Oxford English dictionary is: a famous person. The state of being well known. So while one can argue that the definition of celebrity has not changed, the respectability and synonyms that used to be associated with it have changed rather dramatically; namely, hero, luminary, notable, and personage. One used to associate celebrity with the heroes of science, theatrical luminaries, big names in sports, a notable of the concert stage or even a personage in the field of philosophy. And I seem to remember that talent also seemed to be an implicit part of the requisite. Clearly, these associations no longer apply or have been broadened pretty dramatically, to the point where they become completely meaningless, in my mind, when they include today’s’ reality TV stars. I admit that I feel ashamed and embarrassed to live in a society that not only lauds the likes of Charlie, Sheen, Tia Tequila and Omarosa but also consider them celebrities. If anyone among my reader population has been worried about 2012 being the end of the world, fear not because the apocalypse has been upon us for roughly a decade now, in the form of reality TV.


The sad truth of our more modern and civilised world seems to be that anyone who is willing to stand in front of a camera and rant or embarrass themselves in some way has become entitled to their 15 minutes by simply uploading it onto YouTube. The content and substance seem to mean nothing anymore, in fact a quick search of the most popular videos of the day will reveal that the most inane, asinine and meaningless ones are the most popular, by far. Anyone who has something useful or meaningful to contribute is lost in a sea of mediocrity and mirth. This sad realisation becomes even more depressing when one begins to realize that these mostly transient and meaningless bits of content are also being praised for the talent that produced them. While the digital world seems to be hastening this deterioration of cerebral pursuits, it is hard to ignore the fact that even among the ranks of the more bona fide luminaries today, there is a lot left to be desired both in terms of their lack of respectability and their contributions to society. The allure and mystique of the movie star and the stoic character of world leaders and politicians seem to be fading faster than we can type 140 characters.

As much as I love the ability for real-time updates and sharing that services like Twitter and Facebook have ushered in, I also believe that personal boundaries are still absolutely necessary. In fact, they are needed now more than ever before. So while I enjoy hearing about my friends’ latest escapades in a weekly or monthly dose, I equally have zero interest in knowing about the personal weekend antics of my Congressman from the 15th district of New York. 20% of politicians, who use Twitter, update their streams with personal information. Transparency in politics is great, but I am pretty sure this is not what America’s forefathers had in mind. Granted there is much greater access to personal information today. The glare of the media spotlight is much stronger and the newsmen might be less disciplined than they used to be. Still, people have the ability to control and limit what they do and say both in public, and in response to vapid accusations, salacious rumors and torrid gossip in the press. Take Denzel Washington, for example. I applaud his decision to keep his private life private. Being such a huge star, if he can obsessively limit the amount of personal information that trickles into a morbidly curious world, then I have to believe so too can others to a greater degree than they tend do today. Sadly, discretion no longer seems to be the better part of valour, today.

Another concern is our increasing tolerance for what is deemed acceptable and responsible in our society. The level to which our standards have diminished to an alarming degree is obvious when we laugh, sigh and simply turn the page at Madonna’s latest hobby, that of adopting (buying) children from different parts of the world. Or when we seem perfectly content to move on with a minor slap on A-Rod’s wrist for what amounts to cheating by taking steroids, albeit earlier in his career. And that it took the reckless and criminal endangerment of a child, in the Balloon boy saga, to finally create some semblance of public outcry. The lengths people are willing to go to gain their 15 minutes of fame is a sad testament to the state of our society today. Even crashing the White House’s first State Dinner seems only to be shocking because it might have endangered the President and Indian Prime Minister (who is no. 1 on most terrorist’s hit lists). And perhaps this is in part because the lines have become blurred between reality, and politics. For one it seems that good, bad or ugly the type of publicity does not seem to matter; reality TV aspirants just want their payday and politicians their name in the headlines. From Sarah Palin’s mudslinging family feud, to Governor Mark Sanford’s tell-all affair, or Tom Delay’s turn as a contestant on Dancing with the Stars, to a stand-up comic being elected to the US Senate from Minnesota. One wonders when these two worlds will collide or worse yet that they already have and we are just too jaded to have noticed. In fact, I just heard that two former Real World contestants, Sean Duffy from Real World Boston and Kevin Powell from Real World New York show, are considering runs for Congress. As I ponder this, I realise that my initial shock and outrage has begun to fade, and acceptance fills this space. I cannot help but wonder if they might actually do a better job than our politicians in either party have been able to do.