John Edwards is getting a lashing in the media now, but dollars to doughnuts this will all be forgotten eventually. America subconsciously believes that infidelity is something powerful men just do...hell, we think it's just something MEN just do, sort of like shaving. Just like JFK and MLK and lesser lights like John McCain and Newt Gingrich, we'll forgive Edwards his sexual peccadillos. He'll be back on the political scene one day--trust me. Of course, if the shamed adulterer had been Hillary Clinton or Barbara Boxer or Elizabeth Dole or Laura Bush, me thinks we'd have a different view. Respectable women are not sexual, much less unfaithful. Folks from the streets of Manhattan to the fields of the Bible Belt would pillory a woman who snuck a little sumthin' sumthin' in the Oval Office or was caught creeping on the campaign trail.
Considering the Edwards brouhaha, it was with some amusement that I read Vanity Fair's recent article on Carla Bruni, former model, folk/pop singer, lover of rock lions Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton, and, by the way, wife of French president Nicolas Sarkozy. Madame Sarkozy once famously said:
During a state visit to England earlier this year, scandal erupted around the Sarkozys when nude photos taken of Bruni in 1993 surfaced at a Christie's auction. The tasteful black-and-whites fetched $91,000. The photographer who took the pics said ominously, "I have other nude photographs of Carla far more explicit, but I would never sell them."
The Bruni-Sarkozys are nothing if not very...French. Karl Lagerfeld is quoted in the Vanity Fair piece as saying of the pair, "They are hunters who met--predators. It's a good thing. He has seduced many women and she was a kind of seductress. When two like this meet, it can be good." President Sarkozy met the previous Madame Sarkozy, Cecelia, when both were married, and both had very public affairs after he took office. Bruni has one son from a previous relationship with a young man she met while dating his father. Vive le France!
Now, I'm not endorsing all this slap and tickle and cheating, but I find it interesting that even though the French are ambivalent about the man they call President Bling-Bling for his flashy ways, they seem to quite like their first lady--adventurous sexual past and all. Meanwhile, back among the amber waves of grain, we prefer our first ladies (and other ladies) mute, maternal and fixed with an adoring gaze. We prefer all "good girls" be non-sexual, no matter how close they are to the halls of power. Come to think of it, perhaps that's why Michelle Obama catches such hell. I mean besides the blackness, out-spokenness, independence and intelligence, she's also beautiful and sexy-as-hell in a strong way. You get the feeling from watching Obama and her husband that this is one first couple who will definitely be "doing it" in the White House. Can't say the same for the McCains. Despite the illicit start to their marriage, I can't imagine enjoying fireworks in the boudoir with a man who squirms like this at the mention of birth control.
In Friday's post I mentioned the radio commenter who said of John Edwards: "I used to think John Edwards was 'soft,' but this makes me think he is a regular guy. I like him now." So, sexuality run amok is the essence of maleness? The reality that Americans hate to hear is that women have the same carnal desires as men. We have other desires...yes. We have more self control...maybe...sometimes. But women like sex, too. But for us, sexuality is something to be forgiven not celebrated.
I think that very soon we will see a female leader of the United States. But I tell you we will not achieve true equality until a woman can not only park her pumps in the Oval Office, but also get her freak on with a consenting young intern and have the forgiveness and admiration of the American electorate.