There’s a power struggle going on at CBS as a result of sexual harassment allegations against outgoing CEO Les Moonves. Big surprise there. One after another, high profile American executives and politicians are being flattened by their own coarse desires.
From Roger Ailes to Bill O’Reilly at Fox News, and from Harvey Weinstein to Kevin Spacey out in Hollywood, the famous and powerful can’t seem to control themselves around women, or men. The same goes for our infidel president Donald Trump, whose third wife Melania is only the most recent victim of his dalliances with porn stars and Playboy models.
The #metoo movement has exposed an epidemic that is endemic to the lack of fidelity in the American conscience.
A long line of infidels
Politicians are among the worst when it comes to sexual affairs and such. Even legacy figures such as John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. were messing around on the side. Perhaps the drives that make them so goddamned horny are the same levels of testosterone that push them to greatness. Some flaws in human character can and should be forgiven. I’m not entirely convinced that the ends always justifies the means, but acts of redemption are possible. Ultimately, the nature of their character comes back to one thing:
Fidelity; defined as: “faithfulness to a person, cause, or belief, demonstrated by continuing loyalty and support.”
Now one could make the case the Melania Trump is, in some sense, a princess of fidelity when it comes to staying loyal to her husband despite the very public forms of embarrassment he has brought upon her. The same could be said of Hillary Clinton, who stood by her husband during his sexual scandals both during his presidency and outside those bounds. Women often show the way when it comes to the net gains fidelity.
But not always. We’ve watched the likes of Martha Stewart lie under oath and serve time. The original tale of Eve “tempting” Adam is one of considerable debate. But it does show an equality of sorts. We’re all human. That’s not an excuse. But it is a fact.
Fidelity is not only a personal value. It is supposed to be a commitment. One of the values we learn through participation in endurance events such as triathlon and marathons and even the local 5K is the virtue of putting in the training and living with the outcomes. If something bad happens along the way, we regroup and try again. We embrace fidelity to the fulfillment of our efforts. That’s why these events are so popular. They give us something to believe in, even if it is just ourselves.
That’s also why couples give marriage vows. Those vows are supposed to mean something when tests of fidelity come along. Some people just don’t get that or refuse to abide by the meaning of vows when true tests come along. That’s why we hear stories about ostensibly highly-principled people, even titans of conservative or liberal ideology, who when confronted with their own selfish urges and brittle humanity cave into temptation.
Newt or not
For example, consider the actions of conservative whip Newt Gingrich, the man who claims to know what’s best for America. Here’s how his personal life was described by a simple Google search factoid: “In 1984, Jackie Battley Gingrich told The Washington Post that the divorce was a “complete surprise” to her. According to Jackie, in September 1980, Gingrich and their children visited her while she was in the hospital, recovering from surgery for cancer, and Gingrich wanted to discuss the terms of their divorce.”
That’s a cold-hearted bastard right there. Should we assume he’s got more compassion for those outside his most immediate circle? Let’s also recall that Newt and his ilk pursued Bill Clinton high and low during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. But which was worse, Clinton getting a blowjob or Newt serving his dying wife divorce papers as a complete surprise? Yet somehow, this is the man that is held up as an example of how to defend American principles. The irony is so rich it almost makes you want to puke.
Issues of moral equivalency are hard for some to sort out. But those of us that have been faced with temptations and have chosen the right path actually do know the difference. When a casual friend long ago confessed that he was having an affair outside of marriage, he asked what I thought about the situation. I replied, “Well, when you’re in a marriage, it’s like a road map: you know which way to go. But when you have an affair then all the roads are open.” He broke off the affair not long after that.
Personally I experienced many situations that could have led to infidelity. While driving back from a work-related appointment with a much younger female associate, she began talking about the boredom of her marriage and offered me oral sex if we pulled the car over. “I know how to make men scream,” she told me. I did not pull over. Later in her life that same woman got fired from her job when she was caught on closed-circuit videotape giving a man oral sex in a supply room.
Alone and far away
And once (I’ve admittedly shared this story before) during a sponsored trip as an artist whose work was annually auctioned off as a prize at a running road race in Texas, I encountered a young woman from my home state who was racing as part of the elite corps of runners brought to the race by the organizers. I’d watched her run as a high school senior and told her I appreciated how she’d grown as an athlete. Now she was five years older and much more worldly wise. She’d nearly won the women’s title at the race. So I’d been friendly, and now she hung around the artist’s table where I was signing posters for the crowd. She stood next to me for quite in her tight black tights and sporting the occasional come-on smile. Were they signals of interest?
Later that day I saw her emerge from a hotel room with another man. Her hair was tousled and he was looking quite happy. So the signals she were sending were clear after all, at least to someone. More power to her. But it could not have been me.
The point here is that resisting the temptation to pursue such interests, even when they present themselves with little risk of discovery, is the real test of a person’s character.
It often gets more difficult to resist temptation before it gets easier. When my late wife suffered through years of cancer treatments, she was often at risk from any sort of infection that might compromise her immune system. That meant leaving her alone in terms of marital relations. We got used to that well enough. But then even her hands suffered the effects of a particularly potent form of chemotherapy. The skin was sensitive and even peeled off in layers. We laughed that now we could not even touch each other. It was no fun, but it was also part of the marriage vows. “For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health…”
Then came more surgeries and more chemotherapy. Through it all we struggled to maintain some semblance of the physical bonds marriage, but mostly we just tried to get through it all.
Perhaps some men would have wandered off and found sex somewhere else. I know more than a few who did under much less stressful circumstances. Their marriages are no more.
I’m not patting myself on the back, and my point is not self-congratulatory. Comedian Chris Rock tells a joke in which he observes that some black men brag that they haven’t left their wives. “I take care of my kids,” they say.
And Rock retorts, “That’s what you’re supposed to do, you dumb ass.”
Same goes with being faithful to your spouse. It’s not some award. You don’t get a finisher’s medal along the way. The reward is the process, the knowledge that you’re doing the right thing the right way. That’s why the Nike campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick is justified. It’s about doing the right thing even when it costs you personally and professionally. It is significant that so many Americans misunderstand that and project their own selfish, fearful and jingoistic desires upon the man. They don’t know the real meaning of fidelity to a cause, so they can only criticize those who do.
But I am pissed at the supposedly mighty and powerful men who see themselves outside the bounds of accountability, who think they can get away with extramarital murder and then push their ideologies on the rest of us. My outrage is justified at those whose power and influence impacts all our lives, yet who refuse to exhibit any sort of truth or fidelity in their own lives. I don’t buy at all that people are allowed to compartmentalize. I was disappointed as hell that Bill Clinton turned out to be a skeeze. I do think Hillary Clinton was compromised in her own legitimacy by her husbands infidelity. That’s how bad things turn out in the end. No one escapes the infidelity clause in the end.
But it’s particularly disgusting that someone got away with calling her “Lyin’ Hillary” when the opponent was ten to fifty times worse in every respect. But that’s politics. Accuse the other side of your worst flaws until it becomes the truth. That is gaslighting. That is infidelity to the max.
Golf courses and strippers
I also recall a personal moment of decision at a golf outing to which I was invited at a prestigious private country club outside Chicago. The golf portion of the event was eclipsed by a massive rain storm. That meant we were all herded into a big auditorium to be served lunch. Then a band of scantily dressed women emerged and began roaming around offering dances at each table. A few of us sat cautiously eating our lunch as the girls approached. Just then an announcement was made that the women would be stripping down to even less clothing. “Anyone who does not want to be present should leave,” the loudspeaker warned.
But what did that mean? That we were no longer welcome at the entire event? Is that how the world of the complicit and powerful works? It certainly seemed so. A decade ago there were golf outings held all around Chicago at which strippers were hired to entertain golfers . Residents in the homes along the fairways were treated to the sight of naked young women giving lap dances to men on golf carts. It took a few phone calls and protests, but those events were eventually banned at most courses.
I’m no prude. I like looking at naked women as much as the next man. But the vibe inside that golf club that day, with naked strippers traveling around the tables, did not feel like fidelity to me. So I was one of the few that got up and left. My example in the moment emboldened a guy sitting one table over as well. He got up and whispered my way, “Thanks. I’m not sure where this is going.”
Fidelity has many meanings and many types of expression in this world. I’ve lived through workplace environments where sexual harassment was commonplace. But sometimes it went far beyond any realm of respect. Thus I helped one young woman get a lawyer after hearing stories of how her boss was asking lascivious questions about her clothing and her sex life. She sued and won. Her boss was chastised too.
That overall environment affected the rest of us that worked there. One kind of abuse typically leads to another. I’d overheard the stories told by the most habitual abusers. They could not help bragging, but in fact it was their insecurities that were on display. Like an athlete who talks a big game but can’t back it up with physical performance, they lived in a world of falseness.
And those who deceive themselves also tend to cheat in other ways. So we’d hear tales of course gamesmanship and buying clients gifts to earn and keep their business. But when those antics caught up with them, the gig was literally up.
Standards and morals do matter
That’s what’s wrong with America right now. I’m a liberal––and because I’m a liberal––I understand (perhaps to a flaw) that standards and morals do matter. My morals have cost me in the workplace when I did the right thing rather than force people to work un-billed hours or play tricks on the organization by falsifying membership or other numbers. I’ve had to bite my tongue while watching peers ‘get ahead’ when behind the scenes they confessed they were outright cheating the system, whatever it was. And it happened again and again and again. Rather than snitch, I tried harder to win the right way. And sometimes, it actually worked. That made me feel doubly proud.
But here’s the rub: these days the people most ardently preaching morals and standards are quite often the ones so morbidly avoiding the commitment and accountability they require. I’m talking about evangelical Christians tossing aside biblical principles to cozy up to power. They’re rationalizing all sorts of egregious evidence of infidelity (political and personal) in their political friends while claiming God is on the side of the most obvious, yet oblivious sinners. Their hypocrites in the worst sense of the word.
Not American virtue
That is not an American virtue in action. That is the death of a republic in process. The same thing has happened with the twisted ways our gun laws have been turned into vigilante justice. Now our public education is being torqued the same way, and our environmental protection policies too. Even the Department of Energy is closing down valuable opportunities to encourage use of renewable and low-fuel energy solutions.
Here’s why: the people charged with running these agencies have no fidelity to the clearly stated purpose of their existence. They stand for the opposite ideas to what gun laws, education, environmental and energy policy mean. Instead they are whores for the commodification of these noble causes by capital, ideological and industrial overlords whose short-term interests benefit from turning the world inside out.
Sand through fingers
And it all starts with the fidelity of those in charge. They may claim to be masters of principle, but truth is proving to be sand flowing through their fingers. Those of us that have made the right choices and accepted, in many cases, that wealth and rewards and happy endings will not come our way (pun intended) are rightly disgusted by the lack of honesty, virtue and fidelity at work in America today. Men such as Mitch McConnell ought to be ashamed of what they called political savviness. It’s infidelity to the American institution. That’s what it truly is.
Perversion of fidelity
I accept that I am not one of the wealthy and powerful in this world today. I look back and realize there were times when I could have “gone along” and gotten more of what I thought I wanted, or whored myself to ‘get ahead.’ But these days, I’m seeing the greater message of fidelity as being wholly in keeping with the Christian principles in which I was raised, and still abide. That’s a far greater brand of fidelity, and it’s not bound up in some falsely righteous, confessional brand of Christianity that sluts itself out to biblical literalism and legalism. Jesus fought those instincts with all his might. And the religious authorities of his day killed him for it. So there’s your example of how this all works. The people in charge right now are not on the right side of God’s plan. They are the height of deception and evil. But just like the old days, they claim to know the Alpha and the Omega of God’s will. It’s a perversion of fidelity to truth.
So that’s why it’s appropriate to use a supposedly sexual term and aim it as an insult at those who break all the rules and then lord their supposed power and authority over others… as if we were the suckers.
So to Donald Trump and the rest of the infidels (from every political and cultural stripe) messing up the lives of everyday Americans with licentious vigor, I say…