This has been a prime week for unzipping political penises and seeing what they look like in public. In Paris Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been charged with “aggravated pimping,” which is legal French for encouraging, abetting, and exploiting prostitution. In New York Anthony Weiner has been busy sexting again, what a surprise! What a thrill! And — descending from these international heights of public lechery — here in Portland our county chairman and one of his subordinates left an email record of erotico-nepotism that has thoroughly screwed both her career and his.
Strauss-Kahn — I hope the arrogant old man feels his humiliation and understands the reason for it, though I doubt he can. Weiner appears to be far too deeply stupid to know what shame is. As for Jeff Cogen here in Portland, I feel a desolate disappointment, which is what drives me to write this piece.
The most promising local politician we had throws away his personal reputation and his sound career — for what? It doesn’t appear to have been love, but mere self-indulgence encouraged by ambition and a naïve sense of entitlement.
You have to ask, does any degree of power translate in a man’s mind into sexual license? Does giving people responsibility invite them to act irresponsibly?
His playmate, equally promising in her field, apparently felt as entitled to transgression; the tango was definitely a twosome. Women given power don’t often interpret it directly as privilege to fuck where they want — the power is usually less, and they’re likely to pay more, and more immediately, for the privilege. But women do of course use sex as rungs on the ladder of ambition.
Ms Manhas lost her job as soon as the story came out. Mr Cogen, though asked to resign by his fellow commissioners, has not done so. He says he wants to be judged by the law, not by public outcry. As the outcry has been relentlessly amplified by the local newspaper, he has a kind of point there. Portland has just survived a mayor who started out his term by having an affair with an underage intern, lying about it, and getting away with it. At least the county chairman and the health department manager are both adults, and so far, more or less, unperjured.
Maybe he can survive the scandal. Maybe we can have another tainted mayor. And then she, like his honor, will be just a casualty of his career.
But — but — what were they thinking? Did they imagine that emails and textings are secret? That privacy exists?
I guess they’ve been living where Anthony Weiner lives.
I wish the countries where we all live didn’t overlap so largely with that bottomland of imaginary entitlement and sordid, selfish folly.