Today Rep. Anthony Weiner joined the long list of philandering male politicians who have been caught (the list of the ones who haven't been caught is probably even longer).
Last week I saw a documentary about ex-Governor Eliot Spitzer. I remember thinking after his ritual press conference with suffering wife at his side, "What was he thinking? Didn't he know they were after him, those Wall Street financiers whom he had investigated?" Just like I had thought about Bill Clinton, "What was he thinking? Didn't he know the Republicans were after him with everything they had?"
What occurred to me while watching the Spitzer film was that I was expecting rational behavior from these men. I was acting as if they had free will, as if they were sane creatures capable of choosing the best option for their life.
I have written a manuscript, "We Are ALL Innocent by Reason of Insanity," which argues not only that we do not have free will, but that our "choices" are made in a part of our mind which is not conscious. Our rational minds come along after decisions and actions have been made, spinning stories that explain why we think the things we think and do the things we do.
What is true about men, I think, is that power acts upon them as a strong aphrodisiac, which then stimulates some kind of reaction, most likely chemical, that greatly boosts their sex drive. They are not rational agents choosing to engage in risky sex, they are victims of a physiological response that naturally occurs when men gain power.
Of course, women are attracted to powerful men from an aphrodisiac reaction of their own, so the two reinforce each other.
Perhaps by recognizing this as a real, organic, and physical process that men are prone to, we could envision some way to prevent these politicians from self-destruction.
Or we could change our societal attitudes toward sex and say "So what?" when we hear of another politician engaging in sex outside his marriage.
As an aside, one of the things I found creepy about George W. Bush was that it was impossible to imagine him ever being embroiled in a sex scandal. What was wrong with him that he was so sexless?