Monday, October 16, 2006

Foley Family Values

Government is for geeks. But sex sells -- especially if it involves hypocrisy, good footage, illicit documents and a public dressing down, so to speak. We lofty virgins love a good witch hunt.

Wonking doesn't do much for the American attention span, but bring in a cute girl or Congressional page, and people's ears perk up, lengthening millions of attention spans by inches.

This perky reaction is built into the species, in fact, built into all living animals and life itself. So this hunt for throbbing red meat isn't going away any time soon. Bill Clinton should have known or remembered that his particular pecadillo, his randy reputation, could bring him down no matter how statesmanlike he seemed with the cameras rolling. Clinton wasn't the first, but he was the first president brought down by sex. All promoters of family values take note. Sex is here to stay, so ignore your horny hormones if you want to get out unburned.

At least for him, Mr. Clinton was a hound doggish heterosexual. Buxom babes did it for him. Poor Mark Foley likes men and seems to love boys. In this country, as rainbow coalesced as we hope to be, there's not enough ground there to stand on. One you can grin and bear until impeachment, one you resign or get run out of town on a rail. In any case, the furor becomes such a circus that many onlookers lose any clear regard for what is legal and what is illegal. The biggest question, in a liberal society, should be: Did the suspect break the law? If that question gets lost in the hullabaloo, then we really are on a witch hunt.

And it's clear that Americans are much less comfortable with these worldly realities -- that sex and life go on in all their diversity -- than are many other cultures, which practice more of what they preach, more "live and let live." Americans are big on sin, which means that far too many of us both fear sin and love sin. Not a very realistic world view. We want to be pure, and that is a desire, yet we are natually prurient, and that's a fact. We want to feel superior and blessed, even as we feel the urge to be voyeurs, at least in public if not in private.

And the mainstream media is perplexic at this, chasing the scurrilous scents of sex scandals as if they were rabid dogs or space aliens. Oh, to lie while trying to seduce someone! Oh, to flirt with a junior! The short skirts of cheerleading squads and the high porcelain faces and virginal voices of boys' choirs, life goes on, and try as we may to be civilized, much less law abiding and honorable, some strains of us down deep, very deep, are on the hunt.

Once an alchoholic, always an alchoholic. Once sexual, always sexual. Being honest about this, as was Jimmy Carter, famously but in passing, in open "recovery," is better than playing one's crucial cards as a newly outed-gotcha hound dog.


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