Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Body Politic

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I mentioned that registered Democrat guy who said he didn't want Hillary Clinton to be president because he thought female leaders make countries seem "wimpy"? I wonder what he thinks of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa after the recent revelations about the mayor's extramarital affair with Spanish-language news reporter Mirthala Salinas, a woman twenty years younger than he is. Chances are, he thinks if someone like Villaraigosa were president, it would make the United States seem more "macho."

Or maybe not. You never know. When Bill Clinton had his little fling with Monica Lewinsky, no one thought it made the United States seem stronger and more virile -- as a matter of fact, it pretty much ruined Bill Clinton's career. On the other hand, being unfaithful to his wife didn't do any political damage to Rudy Giuliani, who might end up winning the Republican nomination for president.

And then, of course, there's Arnold Schwarzenneger. When he was running for governor of California, all sorts of revelations came out about him, but he still ended up winning the election by a landslide. But that might not be a fair comparison, because there's a big difference between what Schwarzenneger did and what Villaraigosa did. Villaraigosa's affair was between two consenting adults and it eventually led to a loving relationship, whereas in Schwarzenneger's case, there was only one consenting adult involved, so his behavior was more along the lines of sexual harassment. I don't know how things will turn out for Villaraigosa, but if his political career is over, it means that Californian have two standards of morality -- one for Austrians and one for Latinos.

I was reading some letters to the editor in my local newspaper yesterday, and a lot of people seem to think that because Villaraigosa apparently tried to cover up the affair for a while, they can no longer trust anything he says. The basic reasoning is that if he's capable of lying about one thing, he's capable of lying about everything. That makes perfect sense to me. After all, if you're capable of killing a cockroach in your kitchen, you probably wouldn't think twice about grabbing a high-powered rifle and systematically gunning down everyone in your neighborhood.

Well, telling lies is a lot different from killing, so maybe that's not a good analogy. But if it's true that if someone lies about one thing, he'll lie about anything, it means we can't trust anybody, because I don't think there's one person living on this planet who hasn't lied at one time or another. (I may have even told a lie or two myself once upon a time, although I can't remember the last time I was anything other than totally honest.)

And I don't want to sound like I'm defending Villaraigosa or anything, but whatever bad judgment he may have regarding his political career, he seems to have pretty good judgment when it comes to women. I mean, if you're going to have an affair that may end your political career, it might as well be with some hot Latina journalist babe, as opposed to, for example, some overweight and unattractive intern.

Of course, whatever happens to Villaraigosa, things don't look so good for Salinas at the moment. There seems to be some question as to how much she disclosed to her employers at Telemundo, and at the time of this writing, she's suspended with pay while exactly what she said and exactly when she said it are being investigated. (I don't know about you, but I think when you suspend someone with pay, you're sort of sending a mixed message. You're telling the person, "You probably did something wrong, but until we find out all the facts, we're forcing you to go on a paid vacation. Enjoy your summer.")

As for me, I don't think she did anything wrong. To the contrary, I think she showed very good judgment. As a matter of fact, I think all beautiful young professional women should be encouraged to have affairs with men who are at least twenty years older than they are. And to any such women who are reading this, I'll be 53 in a couple of months, by the way.