Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"Affairs" of the Powerful

Big news - General David Petraeus was discovered to have had an affair.  There is nothing new under the sun - only the times and situations have changed.  The affairs of powerful men are common throughout history.  However the cybertrails of today make their discovery so very much easier.  What's more,  today's news media no longer protect the powerful by not disclosing their private affairs, as they once felt obligated to do, but are compelled to do the opposite; to headline these "sordid stories."  After all sex sells and makes for great show business.  And, after all, doesn't news = show business in 2012! Petraeus is only the most recent in a long line of successful and powerful males whose sexual drives overcome what, to most people, appear to be reasonable and logical behavior.

Petraeus follows in the well-worn footsteps of Generals MacArthur, Eisenhower, Patton and Pershing to mention a few.  I am sure there are many more.  Presidents Clinton, Kennedy, L.B. Johnson, F.D. Roosevelt, Harding, and Jefferson must also be included in a list of "affair-participants."  And let's not forget Newt Gingrich, Anthony Weiner and Arnold Schwarzenegger, just to mention a few recent names.

So why do they do it?  Why take such risks?  How do men become so blind to risk where a sexually attractive woman is concerned?  Why put your career on the line?  Professor Michael Baker of  Eastern Carolina University has written that "the risk of losing one's career or reputation is nothing compared with the evolutionary drive to reproduce."  He maintains that such behavior actually shows something he termed "mating intelligence."

In the past, the affairs of powerful and successful men had no effect whatsoever on their careers.  The effects are only recent.  And where are those "guilty men" are today - Clinton goes on and his influence seems to be unending, Gingrich became a presidential candidate, Weiner is considering re-establishing a political future and Schwarzenegger is back in the show-biz world.   Kennedy, Johnson, and all the rest have lost no luster - and any criticism leveled at their careers is unrelated to their sexual exploits.

Monogamy is not for everyone, it seems.  Sexual affairs occur even when extraordinary risks are involved.  Frank Farley, the past president of the American Psychological Association has said : "The human race has had thousands of years of problems with monogamy.  The problems have not been resolved."

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