Are you listening?
“Distraction” is what we call news stories that trump what we’d rather be hearing about. We especially deem news a distraction if it’s a high-profile sex scandal like that of the once heralded General and CIA Director, David Patraeus whose confession is thought by many to be a “distraction” for what may have really happened in Benghazi. It seems these sexual indiscretions are a dime a dozen these days and many have shrugged this off just as they did Schwarzenegger, Congressman Wiener, the Secret Service, Brett McGurk, and the many other notables before them as well as those yet to come. People who think “it doesn’t matter” clearly have not thought it through. I feel compelled to put the word “distraction” into the proper context of these stories and explain to you why it does matter or at least why it should.
Involved, we have a long list of things that matter; from the issue of family values and how that relates to the military’s Code of Conduct to an honest assessment of the military’s burden in these cases; from our international reputation to security and any potential breaches; from America’s level of acceptance driven by the common disregard of those in power to the double talk and excuses of Washington D.C.. Thanks to expanding technology we can now scrape away the bullshit on the surface and embrace the opportunity to have a national discussion.
So let’s talk. Let’s talk about the ramifications of good sex, and I mean down and dirty hot freakin’ sex. Think back to that time, with that woman (or man), that blushing secret arousal and its anticipatory, heart racing need. Mmm hmm, that constant “distraction” of desire and attraction, we’ve all been there. Maybe you don’t need to think back. Maybe you have someone right now. You know, that person you cannot stop thinking about no matter what’s going on, no matter who you are already attached to. All the e-mails, texts, and calls during work hours shuffled between meetings – sometimes using work provided equipment, and then there’s the sneaking around later just to say hi after you’re home in the evenings and on weekends. The intoxication of those stolen glances above the heads of or ignored by those around you. It’s a deep needful ache that drives your days and leaves you panting throughout your nights. You know that power! Oh the things it can make you do and the things it can make you forget; things like vows and wedding rings, oaths to God and sometimes even oaths to your country.
So, why would anyone make the assumption that any of these men (or women) involved in sex scandals could not or would not have jeopardized any mission to which they were responsible for? Why not? They participated in the affairs fully understanding the consequences of their actions. They knew there would be a ripple effect of repercussions politically, martially, and career wise. In fact, sex is one of few things that people often risk everything for. How can there be any assumption that “poor judgment” only played out in their pants when we know what a mind fuck desire can be?
How many decisions were made by those who were only partially paying attention? How many people have died because of those decisions? How many important meetings were fantasized through? How many of our tax dollars have been spent to cultivate and hide illicit relationships in and out of Washington? And why in the hell is it the “other” person’s fault instead of the fault of those who perpetrate the offenses? Remember, these are men (and women) whom we elect or otherwise select and intellectually and emotionally uphold, as well as financially support. The people we have willfully given and entrusted power to are doing us a disservice and it does matter. If life is a series of events that build upon one another, how might the series have gone had the events been different?
“Honey Pots” are real. There are men and women in and out of our government that use physical and emotional relationships to leverage information, but that doesn’t mean one is or has to be a spy in order to hear or see something that is classified. It also doesn’t mean that a secret relationship can’t have some emotional merit of its own outside of any other agenda real or imagined. What it does mean is we are susceptible from a myriad of angles. Sex is sex and it’s a powerful and pervasive thing regardless of whether it’s illicit or not. It holds a power of persuasion stronger than any other thing and can be used for no good. It can also spark even the most careful and conscientious soul into a consensual atmosphere of smoldering lapses in judgment, decreased decorum – including that of the tongue, and feelings of real omnipotence. Like M.C. Hammer’s song “You Can’t Touch This” most people involved in a scandal before it’s a scandal feel that way. Sadly, once the story hits, they’re mostly right.
So how can we begin to fix a problem so deep-rooted in our culture and in our own human physiology? Let’s start with the separation factor involved in most of these cases. Military and Political leaders spend a lot of time away from home and a quiet prerequisite to their power positions is the ability to appear motivated by good ol’ American “family values”, i.e. being married. I hate to break it to you, distance may make the heart grow fonder, but it also makes the libido grow hotter and it isn’t always for the one waiting at home. More thought needs to be put into making protocol changes in the military and government sector to truly accommodate and support a committed and married lifestyle, starting with decreasing long durations of marital separations. Being apart less is not going to solve the problem of adultery, but it will certainly go a long way to slow its spread as will enforcing negative consequences for those that do not adhere to the code of conduct they’ve sworn to uphold.
We need a government that stops opposing same-sex marriage under the guise of “preserving the sanctity of marriage” and instead put their private parts where their mouths are…err maybe not exactly, but you get what I mean. With divorce rates at or above 50% and infidelity consistently ranking as a top reason for divorce it’s no wonder the foundation of family values is corroded. Isn’t the sanctity of marriage about loyalty, commitment, trust, and honor…? Hmm, that sounds a lot like the values in that other vow, the one taken in allegiance to a country one supposedly serves. Who is preserving the sanctity of marriage and why are we so quick to dismiss the potential of further wrong doing as if the possibility is unquestionable? In the case of Patraeus and his biographer; they are both married, at least one was entrusted with not only our country’s security, but also the lives of countless service members and civilians. They crossed the line knowing what they were doing. Aren’t the real victims America and the “sanctity of marriage”? Where is the disgust and indignation now?
Finger pointing after the fact is selective at best given the political season, the players in and out of office, and the identities of the parties involved. In the past the bigger the name the bigger the potential story, but in today’s world the public’s reaction is blasé at best. Instead politicians and leaders are able to use scandals to jockey for position on mostly unrelated issues while they and the media publicly demonize the “other” man or woman and launch forgiveness campaigns for “Der leader”. This is an atmosphere that only breeds further acceptance and complacency by the People while creating an environment that emphasizes that leaders can get away with just about anything if there’s a good enough marketing campaign behind it. By the time the story gets spun most conversations revolve around how good-looking the lover is along with the inevitable and often unfair comparisons between spouse and lover. Is it the lovers fault for being irresistible, or the spouses fault for letting themselves go?
We can’t even blame that old fall guy Hollywood for making sex sexier. Our bodies were designed to do a handful of things and sex is right up there with breathing and a long drink of water, but our minds have evolved to be able to determine between right and wrong and when we knowingly stray from what’s right we are consciously choosing what’s wrong. If our morals were as high as the horses we preached them from we’d be getting somewhere, but unfortunately when it comes to sex there’s a different set of rules. America, she talks out of both sides of her mouth and as we sit back weighing the “sanctity of marriage” amid these “distractions” we are reminded of how far we haven’t come as a species so we quietly classify our own dirty little secrets hoping and praying we won’t have to talk about it, much. There’s nothing to see here folks…and now for a word from a sponsor…Pepsi’s doing their part to help keep his zipper up and your BMI down with their all new fat blocking soda.