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Republican Family Values
Adultery, adultery, adultery. Does it only matter to the right wing when it's the Clintons? Steve Benen writes for Washington Monthly:

Lurking just over the horizon are liabilities for three Republicans who have topped several national, independent polls for the GOP's favorite 2008 nominee: Sen. John McCain (affair, divorce), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (affair, divorce, affair, divorce), and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (divorce, affair, nasty divorce). Together, they form the most maritally challenged crop of presidential hopefuls in American political history.

Until relatively recently, a self-confessed adulterer had never sought the presidency. Certainly, other candidates have been dogged by sex scandals. In the 1828 presidential election, John Quincy Adams questioned whether Andrew Jackson's wife was legitimately divorced from her first husband before she married Old Hickory. Grover Cleveland, who was single, fathered a child out of wedlock, a fact that sparked national headlines during the 1884 election (though he managed to win anyway). There have been presidential candidates who had affairs that the press decided not to write about, like Wendell Wilkie, FDR, and John F. Kennedy. And there have been candidates whose infidelities have been uncovered during the course of a campaign: Gary Hart's indiscretions ultimately derailed his 1988 bid, and in 1992, during the course of his campaign, Bill Clinton was forced to make the euphemistic admission that he "caused pain" in his marriage.

But it wasn't until 2000 that McCain, possibly emboldened by Clinton's survival of his scandals, became the first confessed adulterer to have the nerve to run. Now, just a few years after infidelity was considered a dealbreaker for a presidential candidate, the party that presents itself as the arbiter of virtue may field an unprecedented two-timing trifecta.

McCain was still married and living with his wife in 1979 while, according to The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof, "aggressively courting a 25-year-old woman who was as beautiful as she was rich." McCain divorced his wife, who had raised their three children while he was imprisoned in Vietnam, then launched his political career with his new wife's family money. In 2000, McCain managed to deflect media questioning about his first marriage with a deft admission of responsibility for its failure. It's possible that the age of the offense and McCain's charmed relationship with the press will pull him through again, but Giuliani and Gingrich may face a more difficult challenge. Both conducted well-documented affairs in the last decade--while still in public office.

Giuliani informed his second wife, Donna Hanover, of his intention to seek a separation in a 2000 press conference. The announcement was precipitated by a tabloid frenzy after Giuliani marched with his then-mistress, Judith Nathan, in New York's St. Patrick's Day parade, an acknowledgement of infidelity so audacious that Daily News columnist Jim Dwyer compared it with "groping in the window at Macy's." In the acrid divorce proceedings that followed, Hanover accused Giuliani of serial adultery, alleging that Nathan was just the latest in a string of mistresses, following an affair the mayor had had with his former communications director.

But the most notorious of them all is undoubtedly Gingrich, who ran for Congress in 1978 on the slogan, "Let Our Family Represent Your Family." (He was reportedly cheating on his first wife at the time). In 1995, an alleged mistress from that period, Anne Manning, told Vanity Fair's Gail Sheehy: "We had oral sex. He prefers that modus operandi because then he can say, 'I never slept with her.'" Gingrich obtained his first divorce in 1981, after forcing his wife, who had helped put him through graduate school, to haggle over the terms while in the hospital, as she recovered from uterine cancer surgery. In 1999, he was disgraced again, having been caught in an affair with a 33-year-old congressional aide while spearheading the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton.

Will right-wing voters look the other way for their boys?

Posted by aalkon at July 11, 2006 11:33 AM

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Adultery, adultery, adultery. Does it only matter to the right wing when it's the Clintons?

I think a big part of it was that it happened inside the White House during, like, business hours, but that's probably not unprecedented either.

Posted by: Jim Treacher at July 11, 2006 5:07 AM

George Bush cleared a lot of brush during business hours. Other presidents cleared a lot of bush.

Sorry. Too immature to resist.

FDR was fucking some girl, and his wife was fucking some other girl. I don't think they only did it after closing time. The same probably goes for a lot of presidents, although I suspect there was probably a minimum of hot lesbo action from most of the first ladies.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 11, 2006 5:28 AM

Adultery serves important social goals. If married men didn't cheat on their wives, a lot of gay men out there would have no one to fuck.

Posted by: Lena at July 11, 2006 7:38 AM

1. What Treacher said. It's not just the business hours... The woman, bless her heart, was a bimbo; a naive, profoundly subordinate piece of candy at the peak of her fertility.


> George Bush cleared a
> lot of brush...

By 2000, voters were ready for a president who'd keep his pants zipped. And for an alluring first lady; she's literally smokin', with a deep fascination for Marlboros and poetry. Her husband and daughter like to drink. The family, like all Republican families, has appetites.

3. The thing about Eleanor is mostly overheated conjecture of young boomer scholars in the 60's. They were amped on their own hormones. And unfamiliar with the conventions of 19th-century dramatic fiction which profoundly influenced her writing style, and that of her close friends. Yes, she had gays in her life. Everyone does.

4. Guys don't do other guys because their wives make them lonely. They do guys because they're gay. (See also #1.)

Posted by: Crid at July 11, 2006 10:48 AM

I didn't say anything at all about WHY married men sleep with other men, Cridster. Like you, I'm really not terribly interested in interior lives. Behavior is what matters.

Posted by: Lena at July 11, 2006 11:33 AM

What's a "social goal" if not an interior condition?

Posted by: Crid at July 11, 2006 11:40 AM

Sorry to say but, i'd rather have someone getting sucked off in the Oval Office during business hours rather than some Bananza playing, nuclurrrr saying least the guy blasting some chick in the face isn't a total idiot.

Most politicians are turds to some extent. Pick your poison.

Posted by: Rob at July 11, 2006 11:50 AM

You can't just lump all political adulterers together and then say "Repubs are hypocrits." Clinton's gaffe stemmed mostly from his arguable perjury when denying his affair in deposition. Contract this with his years-earlier Gennifer Flowers admission, which likely bolstered his primary campaign.

Similarly, Gary Hart didn't lose the nomination b/c he slept around, but b/c he brazenly denied the charges and dared the Fourth Estate to prove it. So the press accomodated him in spades.

Indeed, all these episodes should serve to teach a piece of common sense that politicos have probably spent thousands in researching: "Its OK to mess up but don't lie about it."

Posted by: snakeman99 at July 11, 2006 11:56 AM

"What's a "social goal" if not an interior condition?"

Um, it's social. Interior conditions are psychological.

Posted by: Lena at July 11, 2006 1:13 PM

> it's social

Turns out, social policy is not about getting you laid. Lefties have a problem with this. Especially Arkansans....

Posted by: Crid at July 11, 2006 1:47 PM

Why does anybody have a problem with this question? Democrats are expected to have sex with anything they can sneak up on. And the public is expected to fixate on this, so that other shenanigans are ignored.

Posted by: Radwaste at July 11, 2006 5:12 PM

"Turns out, social policy is not about getting you laid."

That's fine. When it come to sex, I'm all about markets.

Posted by: Lena at July 11, 2006 5:16 PM

There's no "adultery" in the marketplace, where if someone offers you faster delivery of a satisfied impulse, you're expected to go for it. It's carnality, red in tooth and claw....

Anyone wanna bet how many divorces Chelsea has on her resume by 2020? 2035? There are people reading this blog who are young enough to collect from the estate if I'm wrong. Here's a graph for the Chelster, where x = time, y = probable heartbreaks.

D *
i *
V *
o *
r *
c *
e *
s *
_ p a s s a g e _ o f _ t i m e

That's unless she goes cold like her mother. That depends on whether or not she was read Salon in the late '90s. And learns to drink.

Posted by: Crid at July 11, 2006 5:43 PM

Shux, the software mangled the gently ascending curve of the graph. YOu get the picture though, right?

Conservatives are right when they say that adultery is a bad thing. So are Democrats.

Posted by: Crid at July 11, 2006 5:46 PM

"in the marketplace, where if someone offers you faster delivery of a satisfied impulse, you're expected to go for it. It's carnality, red in tooth and claw...."

I'll take mine medium rare, please!

Posted by: Lena at July 11, 2006 5:56 PM

crid, if you have sex with a guy, it doesn't make you gay. if you're married to a woman whom you find attractive (yet not particularly generous), and cheat on her with a dude, that makes you bisexual. unless he gave you a blowjob and you had your eyes closed, i guess. bottom line, it's only gay if you push back.

when people started getting married for love, they started getting divorced for the lack of it. both the verb and the noun.

Posted by: g*mart at July 11, 2006 8:33 PM

Maybe it's the hillbilly Hoosier heritage, but I think gay sex is the part that makes a guy gay.

Fidelity is not a trivial, outmoded thing. Individuals count on it for their sanity, and societies count on it for membership management. The rest of us, meaning the insane and unmanageable, shouldn't be too snarky about it. Amy's comments hit their target because all these Republican guys bungled things, as have innumerable Democratic figures.

Posted by: Crid, Full-windbag mode at July 11, 2006 9:31 PM

"Fidelity is not a trivial, outmoded thing."

I'm very monogamous with my porno DVDs. I'll be walking down the aisle with "Black Dick on Duty" any day now.

Posted by: Lena at July 11, 2006 9:46 PM

YOu guys registered anywhere?

Posted by: Crid at July 11, 2006 10:44 PM

Funny that, how the right loves to rail against "skyrocketing divorce rates" (all the fault of Liberals, of course) while at the same time bashing the Clintons for staying married...

Posted by: deja pseu at July 12, 2006 7:35 AM

"You guys registered anywhere?"

Yeah, baby. Right here:

Posted by: Lena at July 12, 2006 11:54 AM

Reader of Amy's comments may get the impression that you want people to know that you like guys.

Posted by: Crid at July 12, 2006 2:26 PM

"Reader of Amy's comments may get the impression that you want people to know that you like guys."

Jeez, Crid. It's like you're implying ( that the only reason I'm here ( is to drop raunchy comments ( that will make guys want to contact me ( and request blowjobs ( That's not a fair characterization of me ( at all, and you know it! (

Posted by: Lena at July 12, 2006 7:58 PM

Forgotten was Jefferson, author of the Nation's greatest document, who fathered out-of-wedlock children from a beautiful slave girl herself out-of-wedlock daughter of his wife's father, i.e. his wife's half-sister. The first time Jefferson engrossed his (deceased) wife's half-sister, the girl was only sweet sixteen. By today's America's sex standards, Mr. Jefferson would be arrested for statutory rape and libeled a... pedophile. However, don't try adultery while serving in the US Army, you'll get court-martialed and kicked out with a dishonorable discharge. There is one word for this, and it is HYPOCRISY.

Funny girl

Posted by: Jean de Vrieck at July 13, 2006 11:08 AM

This may be a surprise, but many Presidents wouldn't be able to pass the security clearance to get aboard a missile submarine. I know I'd have been mad for one of those yahoos to be on my sub, surrounded by better men than he!

Let's expand on what "hypocrisy" is. That's when the Commander-in-Chief gets away with things he forbids his men to do. The blame is not on the servant, but the master, who is in many cases a human slug, however revered by ignorant masses.

Posted by: Radwaste at July 13, 2006 5:59 PM

adultery is tried quite often in the army.
it's just not always caught, or prosecuted.

Posted by: g*mart at July 14, 2006 8:31 PM

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