Dont spy for me, Argentina
Last week was about celebrities, large and small. Farrah Fawcett’s necessary cancer surgeries couldn’t save her life. Michael Jackson’s unnecessary cosmetic surgeries didn’t kill him. Something else did.
A relatively minor celebrity – a state governor -- made news when he slipped off to Argentina to see a mistress named: Maria. Earlier this year the wife of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford told him to never to see Maria again. Amazingly, Sanford thought he could fly to Argentina and back, while making his wife and the public think he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. The CIA, even with all its resources, would have difficulty pulling that trick off. Sanford could not.
So, what’s the deal with political figures and their Maria or even Mario problems? Maybe, this is a psychological disorder. Just to be non-partisan, it could be called: Clinton (D)-Spitzer (D)-Sanford (R)-Syndrome (CSSS). So, is CSSS fairly common place? Thirty-seven percent of those responding to a Rasmussen poll taken last week “believe most members of Congress have extramarital affairs.”
Should voters care about CSSS? Some will. Some won’t. But, from a national security perspective, it does matter. Intelligence officers look to “honey-trap” rising politicians who are afflicted with CSSS, preserving the details of their sexual adventures against the time when the rising politician might be blackmailed into spying for their agency.
Political figures are relatively easy to “honey-trap.” All too often adoring “fans” make themselves physically available, even to physically unattractive political figures. As the critic Christopher Hitchens noted, “Politics is show business for ugly people.”
Here are some notable examples and categories: With staffers or interns: Senator John Ensign (R), Senator Ted Kennedy (D), former President Bill Clinton (D), former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R), and former Indiana state Rep. Dennie Oxley (D); With prostitutes: Senator David Vitter (R), and former NY Governor Elliot Spitzer (D); With party gals: former Senator Gary Hart (D). Obviously, these kinds of sexual behaviors and then lying about them are not confined to just one political party.
Even below the national security level, CSSS can have a negative impact on the lives of regular folks. For example, Governor Mark Sanford is the commander of his state’s National Guard and is also the head of the state emergency management office. What if a natural disaster or a terrorist attack had taken place while he was “secretly” in Argentina? Granted those left behind could probably cope; however, transfers of official authority can be time-consuming and confusing.
What is it about high office that causes these supposedly rational officials to think they can escape exposure? When writing to explain Bill Clinton’s wandering eye while Governor of Arkansas and, later, in the Oval Office, Dick Morris (Clinton’s political advisor for 20 years) entitled his 2005 book about Clinton: Because He Could. As Lord Acton (1834-1902) famously said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
In 1963, then British Secretary of War, John Profumo, began an affair with Christine Keeler, who was already the mistress of Soviet naval attaché Yevgency Ivanov. On the floor of the House of Commons, the married Profumo lied about his relationship with Keeler. One British tabloid asked: “Christine, Christine. Are you trying to wreck the Party machine? To lie in the nude, it is rude, but to lie in the House is obscene.” Profumo’s forced resignation brought down Prime Minister Harold MacMillan and his government.
Amazingly, when questioned by MI-5, the dumb-as-rocks Keeler could speak in terms of “nuclear payloads,” suggesting that Keeler had been coached by Ivanov to pillow-talk Profumo about Britain’s nuclear weapons. Keeler served nine months in prison.
If, as the 37-percent of Americans in the Rasmussen poll suggest: that “most members of Congress have extramarital affairs,” what are the odds that foreign intelligence services or even organized-crime won’t find out?
William Hamilton, a syndicated columnist and a featured commentator for USA Today, studied at Harvard’s JFK School of Government. Dr. Hamilton is a member of the Association for Intelligence Officers (AFIO), and a former assistant professor of political science and history at Nebraska Wesleyan University.
©2009. William Hamilton.