Lechery in the White House


by Leanne Ogasawara

Party like a presidentOn the day of the second presidential debate, my mom and I decided that it would be just too lewd for my son to watch.

I suppose I should mention my son is 14!

Never in my life, have I seen anything like the insane circus that is surrounding this presidential debate, have you? With 24 hour a day coverage and the wild reaches of Internet, it feels like the election is going to take down the entire country with it. I mean, I was just walking my poodle this morning, and I heard two guys in spandex shouting about Trump's latest outrages as they screamed past me on the their bikes.

You can't get away from it. Not even in the days of Bill Clinton was there this level of lechery.

And so I totally agree with John Oliver, when he said we have reached a point so low in this election that we are now breaking through the earth's crust, where drowning in boiling magma will come as sweet, sweet relief.”


Of course, Oliver had taped his show before the world had started gleefully repeating “that word” over and over again. All of a sudden, “that word” was everywhere, to the point that the detestable Trump surrogate Scottie Nell Hugh was seen demurely asking CNN's Ana Navarro to, “Please stop saying that word, because,” She explained, “My daughter is listening…”

Suffice it to say this did not go over well with Navarro, who angrily responded,

“You know what Scottie? Don’t tell me you’re offended when I say ‘pussy,’ but you’re not offended when Donald Trump says it!” Navarro shouted at Hughes. “I’m not running for president. He is.”

The CNN panel –along with millions of viewers– sat there stunned, because TRULY, you just can't make this stuff up!

And as if Trump was not enough, we are now being made to re-live Bill Clinton's antics, who Trump tells us, “has said far worse to me on the golf course — not even close….” This being all insinuated as some of the women from Clinton's past were paraded in front of us on TV to describe how Hillary aided and abetted Bill's exploitative behavior to women.

Along with John Oliver, We the People are left wondering, “what on earth did we do to deserve this?”

Can't we all just slowly start backing away from these two total nut-jobs and pretend that the 2016 presidential election never happened? Or at the very least, can't we make it known to the world that the American people themselves hate these candidates, who have record negative numbers.

Better yet, is it too late to get Bernie back? How about Colin Powell? I wouldn't even mind seeing Anderson Cooper run. Anything has to be better than these two (well, almost anything).


So, my friend Paul J. Scalise, who is an academic mainly based in Europe and Japan, thinks that Americans have lost all ability to distinguish between public and private. And suggests that perhaps the real problem is the media. Right now, He is reading a really fun book called, Party Like a President: True Tales of Inebriation, Lechery, and Mischief from the Oval Office, by Brian Abrams.

Paul says,

— I don't think we realize how impossible and unrealistic our standards of personal perfection are today in searching for a leader.

Some of America’s most popular presidents would never have stood a chance at election in today’s environment.

Would Teddy Roosevelt be elected today with revelations that he enjoyed big game hunting in Africa? Would FDR be elected today with revelations that he suffered from polio? Would JFK be elected today with revelations that he was a serial womanizer? Would Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, FDR, Grover Cleveland, Warren Harding, Lyndon Johnson, or even George Bush, Sr be elected today with revelations that they all had extramarital affairs? Would Chester Arthur, James Buchanan, and several others be elected today with revelations that they were borderline alcoholics? Would Abraham Lincoln be elected today with revelations that he never went to church or even cared about God until he ran for public office?

The list goes on and on…

America's very unique insistence on scrutinizing the private lives and private conversations of candidates — something that is laughed at as irrelevant in most European and Asian countries –would likely have cost us a lot of good former presidents if today's standards were applied to the past.

It's true, and “China” is now trotting this out as yet another example of why their own one-party system is preferable to all this endless scandal! The world is laughing and instead of any real conversation about the actual issues, we are being bombarded with what can only be described as the worst kind of reality TV. And, I think it is safe to say that this is going to continue and get worse and worse once one of these losers gets into the White House.
In many ways, I agree with Paul on public versus private. We are not electing a daoist sage, but rather are looking for a commander and chief, right? Because now instead of focusing on actual policies and ideas that can maybe help people we are being treated to a front row seat of a show of seemingly endless personal attacks, disturbing gaslighting and incredibly unsavory behavior. Yes, I am talking about a trigger warning for the entire 2016 election!
To my mind, it is a matter of degree, because there are lines that if crossed it is in the public interest to know about. Character should matter. And, it could even be argued that presidents are more representative of the people than prime ministers. So, perhaps in the US they are a bit like teachers and so should be in some ways exemplary and certain higher standards can and should be expected.
But whatever you expect, the media is still at huge fault –as they simply don't seem to care at all about the common good or about kids watching. And this circus has all been status quo since Bill Clinton (or maybe back to Gary Hart?)… Especially once someone is already in office, I think we must become more “French” so that things can be censored to some level for the good of the nation. Nothing good came of the media coverage of Clinton in the '90s and Monica Lewinsky's life was destroyed. This relentless media circus is terrible and is reflected in the way people are also engaging in similarly relentless attacks of each other online and in communities–instead of engaging in civilized debate, sides are taken and the other side is characterized in a disparaging manner that amounts to little more than character assassination. This is fairly new in our culture where you have people saying publicly, anyone who votes for x should never speak to me again… can you imagine? Maybe these people don't have large families and don't talk to their neighbors????
But there is the issue of degree; that is, when is something too much? Heidegger's black notebooks? Did his anti-antisemitism as evidenced there, for example, undermine his body of work? When does something cross a cultural and moral line? When does public/private discrepancies critically undermine something or someone?
The other issue–and this is a problem with Trump, is even given the private public divide (which I hold) Trump seems unable to behave diplomatically and with dignity in PUBLIC (never mind his private life)….what if he starts talking about Merkel like he did about Rosie and what if he is blabbering to Putin about the cute translator with his mic still on. It is too humiliating to imagine.

Given the current climate where Americans do seem to care and judge each candidate by the strict standards and morals of our time, and given that Americans seem to like just fine this relentless scrutiny of candidate's private lives, then I think it is safe to say that both candidates are deeply problematic. Neither candidate meets the moral purity checklist–not by a long shot. So, if the media as it exists today won't go away and they continue to poke at the personal lives of politicians and if that is okay with people, then maybe these current candidates should bow out? There was a meme on Facebook that suggested we pay Obama month to month to keep going until we work this all out…

By way of a conclusion here, I would suggest that when one removes all the smoke and accusations of transgressions, we will be left with the worst kind of entitlement attitudes ever seen in the history of our country. Banana Republics levels of double standards, being above the law, and getting away with all manner of behavior because you have “power.” This is what is most revolting about the entire mess.

By the way, in the back of the Party Like a President book there is a chart of misbehavior and looking at the last 100 years, guess who comes out most angelic? Yep, Jimmy Carter. You gotta love him! Of course, he had a brother who walked on the wild side but Carter was impressively wholesome. And so is Barack Obama. Obama really left the office without scandal or taint, as did Reagan.
And the undisputed bad boy? Yep, John Kennedy– he actually made Clinton look like a total lightweight (Clinton who it is quoted in the book had his wife yelling at him in the White house, “I need to be fucked more than twice a year.” Ouch….) But even those two Clintons are no match to the uber-bad boy John Kennedy. From drugs to interns, Kennedy was really partying in the White House, popping poppers and insisting, he could not get to sleep at night, without “a lay”….we've come a long way….? Not really.
So, which President would you rather have a beer with?…so many possibilities, but I guess I would have to choose Kennedy. Author Abrams chooses Ford (who comes across as pretty charming). Ford sounds good and so does FDR…. How about you, who would you want to have a beer with?
Thanks, Paul and also thanks Ian for suggesting we all use this to talk to our kids about not grabbing!
Thought-provoking articles from the past week:
New York Times Propped up Clinton (old but bears repeating)
“Assange was asked by Democracy Now earlier this year whether he prefers Clinton or Trump. “You’re asking me, do I prefer cholera or gonorrhea?” he replied.”