Sex and politics, an age-old love affair. American politics has been plagued with sex scandals throughout U.S. history.
Former Presidents John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton, Senator John Edwards, former U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner and now Herman Cain, a GOP candidate for the presidential election, all found themselves in the midst of the historically prevalent “political sex scandal” at some point in their political careers.
Why do politicians seem to feel they have a license to do whatever they want, with whomever they want, without fear of retribution?
As stated by Lord (John Emerich Edward Dalberg) Acton, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
This popular saying could hold the key to an age-old political trend. Political power seems to be the absolute power that absolutely corrupts.
With political power comes enough money, connections and means to cover up any sort of indiscretion, or at least make it disappear for a while. However, uncovering the sordid sexual pasts of politicians becomes a rat race for journalists come election time. It seems to revive the muckraking spirit of the Progressive Era in modern-day journalism.
During political races, the pasts of candidates seem to be dragged into the public eye, no matter how detrimental the allegations or facts might be to the candidate’s campaign.
In 1992, allegations about then governor of Arkansas Bill Clinton’s affair with Gennifer Flowers was brought out in his campaign for president.
After appearing on 60 Minutes with his wife and addressing the issue, Clinton was able to win back public opinion and, eventually, the presidency.
Although these early allegations did not derail Clinton’s political campaign in 1992, similar indiscretions came to light in 1998 when the Lewinsky scandal cost him public appeal. Monica Lewinsky interned for the White House in 1995 and allegedly began an inappropriate relationship with Clinton during his first term in office.
After denying the allegations and famously saying, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” he was impeached on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, but was acquitted by the U.S. Senate and was able to complete his second term.
No matter how hard politicians try to cover things up or believe their actions will go unnoticed, they often learn the hard way that they, like ordinary citizens, are not above the law nor can they hide sexual indiscretion forever.
North Carolina Senator John Edwards had a very public infidelity scandal that broke in 2008, when an extramarital affair led to a love child and an alleged $900,000 in hush money to cover up the scandal.
Edwards has been indicted by a grand jury on six felony charges that included criminal conspiracy and violation of campaign finance disclosure laws.
As the GOP candidates gear up to vie for the 2012 Republican candidate nomination, another scandal has rocked the presidential campaign trail.
Reports from four women have accused GOP front-runner Herman Cain of sexual assault that allegedly took place back in the 1990s.
Cain, former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza from 1986 to 1996, was accused of “inappropriate touching.” Cain has denied the allegations and has been forced to address embarrassing questions about the issue in a few of the GOP debates.
According to an article on the NY Daily News website, Cain is experiencing a significant drop in the public opinion polls due to these still unsubstantiated claims.
Throughout U.S. history, American politicians have been caught in some rather sexually precarious positions, both literally and figuratively speaking.
Some politicians commit these indiscretions at the height of their political careers, others before they even begin to take part in American politics. Cain was merely a CEO, Edwards a senator and Clinton a U.S. president.
All three were endowed with a certain amount of power that ultimately led to their downfall. Absolute power corrupts and political power seems to be the chief of all corrupting powers and has lead to the embarrassment of many a politician.