Last week, I read an interesting piece comparing Carla Bruni Sarkozy, ex-model, homewrecker, and current First Lady of France, with American First Lady candidates. The gist, if you don’t want to read the full article, is that French citizens couldn’t care less what their politicians do behind closed doors and who they choose as partners, where American citizens will only tolerate political spouses in the wife/mother/angel roles.

(A)s a rule, we expect our first ladies to act out the part of the supportive political spouse, the archetypal housewife in the ultimate white house. Look pretty, but don’t speak out of turn, à la Laura Bush. Glam it up, but always in a demure, ladylike way, like Jackie O. And if you have to speak your mind, like Hillary Rodham Clinton, then be prepared to pay the price.

It all adds to the argument about the country’s reluctance to elect a woman to the Presidency.

But, let’s put that aside for a second. Today, comes the acknowledgment that John Edwards had an affair with a campaign staffer after months and months of flat out denials and an entire Presidential campaign that basically consisted of what a devoted and loving family man he was. This admission (under increasing media pressure) adds John Edwards’ name to a long list of recent political sex scandals from both sides of the isle: (in no particular order) Dave Vitter (R), Larry Craig (R), Elliot Spitzer (D), Mark Foley (R), Jim McGreevey (D), Gavin Newsom (D). Then of course the classics: Bill Clinton (D), Newt Gingrich (R), Gary Hart (D), Gary Condit (D). It’s getting old.

It’s Not the Sex but the Hypocrisy That Torques Me

I’m of two minds on this.

The biggest part of me says that I don’t give a rat’s toenail who politicians decide to have sex with. If they cheat on their spouses, it just shows their character (callous, ruthless, virile – add whatever adjective you want). If they are gay, then they should be able to be gay in public and not choose a spouse and have the nuclear family as beards. That destroys too many lives, and for what? To demonstrate to the unwashed masses that you can make decisions on foreign policy? Give me a break.

But the slightly smaller part of me simply can’t stand all of the hypocrisy. If you make a career of taking down prostitution rings, then don’t hire a call girl for your sexual trysts. If you consistently vilify homosexuality as immoral and block legislation that gives rights to gay people (military, marriage), then don’t cruise for gay sex in airport bathrooms. And for God’s sake, if you hold your perfect little family up as your proof that you are virtuous, your cancer-ridden wife up as proof that you are faithful to her, and that that makes you different from those against whom you are running for office, then keep your penis in your pants and don’t have an affair! Is this formula really so difficult?

An Olympic Free-For-All

It occurs to me that this news is breaking on the opening day of the Beijing Olympics. Every Olympic cycle, the big scandals center around doping. In the past, I have mused that an “All Doping Olympics” would be excellent. Allow all athletes to take whatever they want, break all the records, see how fast/high/far the human body can go on performance-enhancing drugs and get it all out of their systems. Then wipe the slate clean, put asterisks next to all of the results, get back to the rules of the games, and move on with life.

I think we need to consider doing the same with politicians and sex. Let’s just all stop with the American Puritanical BS, where no one has sex outside of marriage, all men only have eyes for their wives, and all women only have sex for procreation. Let’s just have an “All Sex Campaign” where all candidates and everyone involved in campaigns can do it with whoever they want and brazenly advertise it to the media. Let them get it all out of their systems, let the American public get over their shock-and-awe, and let’s all drop the charade that anyone who runs for public office doesn’t, in John Edwards’ own words, “believe that (they are) special and (become) increasingly egocentric and narcissistic.”