Now that some time has elapsed and some things are clearer, let’s take a comparative look at the Mark Sanford tryst alongside some of the most recent cases of political infidelities and sex scandals. I think that in time, the Sanford episode could become a hit sellout movie, to which the lovelorn will be encouraged to bring lots of tissues, while all the other acts of unfaithfulness will be used as I use them here: to highlight the melancholy of the Sanford heartbreak.
The most infamous case is the one involving Bill Clinton. It caused pandemonium in the country and nearly led to the downfall of the Clinton Administration, but it would make a lousy movie, because it wasn’t about anything emotional. There was no romance involved; this was about power over an admiring subordinate and oral sex , commonly referred to as getting (or giving) some head.
Governor James McGreevey, of New Jersey, lived a lie all of his life until his paid Israeli male lover squeezed him for hush money. He came out of the closet with his wife at his side and declared himself a “Gay American.” His story was told in an honest and upright way, and the ex-governor has moved on by leaving his wife, getting out of politics and finding a male lover with whom he now lives. Although the ex-governor discarded his heterosexual mask in an honorable fashion, there is not enough here to make a movie for a general audience.
Then we have the cases of Governor Elliot Spitzer and Senator David Vitter, who purchased their sexual pleasures from prostitutes. These disclosures caused the downfall of the governor, who nearly swallowed his own face on television and brought great ridicule to the senator for exposing his wife to the press and the country in so shabby a manner. She looked dazed and stood apart from him, as if he had something contagious. I was in the army many years ago and got to understand why young soldiers in strange towns or countries turned to hookers on payday, but someone will have to explain to me why wealthy politicians with great power and many ambitious, admiring females turn to whores; the answer may be found on a psychologist's couch, but there is no movie here.
Next we have the taboo pair; Congressman Mark Foley and Senator Larry Craig. Foley, the newspapers said, had once been seduced by a priest when he was in his pre-teens. He went on to live a half-open, half-closeted sexual existence, until he was busted for sending sexually salacious emails to young male congressional pages, resulting in his resignation and disgrace. I don’t think there is enough there for a successful movie. The Craig thing comes close to being movie material, a comedy for sure, but one scene in a stall in a men’s toilet in an airport cannot fill the time required for a full length movie, wide stance or not. Nor does the spectacle of a US senator holding a press conference with his wife at his side declaring that he is not, and has never been, a homosexual. We’d need to know more. It may be odd, but there is no hint of Foley and Craig ever hooking up, politically or otherwise, and until there is some evident of this occurrence, there isn’t a movie here either.
John Edwards was seduced by an ambitious groupie in a weak moment (I like John Edwards) and made to behave in a particularly bad manner. Sexually cheating on a wife sick with cancer is really atrocious and nearly unforgivable for his wife, but completely unforgivable for those of us (like myself) who admired him and had hoped that he would have emerged in some role in the Obama Administration, working to alleviate poverty in America. There are many mysterious elements to this tale, such as is the baby his, but not yet the stuff of a good Love Story movie.