Posts Tagged ‘Politician’

Sex For The Rich, Famous & Powerful Men

The sex lives of powerful men

Our fascination with scandal and sleaze hides the seriousness of corruption and the ordinariness of infidelity, rape and abuse.

The virility of power is no longer in question. In the past month, the papers have been sodden with the sordid sex lives of wealthy, influential men. The former governor of California has been exposed as an adulterer. The former head of the IMF is awaiting trial, charged with the attempted rape of a Manhattan maid.

In Britain, in the superinjunction scandal, a top banker, a leading journalist, footballers and unnamed others have been accused of abusing laws designed to protect the innocent to cover up their extramarital affairs. It is almost a century since women in Europe and the US started to become major players in the world of business and politics but you wouldn’t know it to look at the headlines.

In the past few weeks, women have featured almost nowhere in the political press except in the roles of wronged wife or brave victim. There is an ocean of difference between consensual infidelity and sexual assault. Men who cheat are a different species of scumbag from men who rape. Yet that difference has been elided by the schoolyard stereotype that violence, exploitation and lies are an inevitable part of the power rut of modern politics.

Squelchy details

This is not an innocent age. Western society has grown past the scandals of John Profumo, Bill Clinton and Silvio Berlusconi and we can no longer pretend to be shocked by the idea of philandering politicians.

Yet it is hard to decide who is most debased by this pageant of shame: is it the men in question; the press, whose obsession with sex has pushed a great deal of real news off the front pages; or the rest of us, for letting ourselves get sidetracked? People are outraged that public figures have appropriated British laws to hide their own misdemeanours, but our fascination with sleaze distracts us from the importance of this abuse of power.

The hypocrisy of this media circus is that it obscures both the seriousness of political corruption and the everyday nature of sexual infidelity, rape and abuse, none of which is the preserve of the rich and famous. The notion that wealth and status are special predictors of infidelity ignores the evidence that 45 per cent of wives and 60 per cent of husbands engage in extramarital sex at some point in their lives.

“Lawmaker infidelity”, as one US news site termed the Arnold Schwarzenegger case, is no different from any other infidelity when it comes down to the squelchy details, though one might possibly anticipate a smarter hotel.

Many feminists have attempted to psychoanalyse the male abuse of women’s trust as a disease of power. The cover of a recent issue of Time magazine demands to know why “powerful men act like pigs”. This is the wrong question to ask, because it assumes that other men do not and does a disservice to the thousands of women who are raped every day by taxi drivers, office workers, family members and friends. Five per cent of women, according to the campaign group Rape Crisis, will experience rape in their lifetime. Some of their attackers may well be cartoon villains but most of them will not.

It is worth comparing the public condemnation of the disgraced former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, whose guilt is tacitly assumed by many, to the case of WikiLeaks’s editor-in-chief, Julian Assange, who faces similar charges in Sweden. Assange has been pre-emptively exonerated of any wrongdoing by the global left on the grounds that, as an outlaw pioneer of free speech, he cannot also be an abuser of women.

Strauss-Kahn, on the other hand, is a powerful player in a financial system whose exploitative practices are accepted. Sexual exploitation and political potency are assumed to be part of the same sweaty package. Both Assange and Strauss-Kahn deny the allegations against them.

There is a complicity to all this – the press loves to watch important men with their flies undone and gossip about how big and hard and naughty they are. Naughty they may be, but the potency of the individuals concerned is very much up for debate.

Ordinary idiots

The problem is not that we are getting screwed, but that we are getting screwed with blood­less inefficiency. The alleged philanderer Fred Goodwin’s stewardship of the Royal Bank of Scotland was a misfire. During his time as chief executive, the bank nearly collapsed in a financial crisis that cost us billions. While Schwarzenegger was “Governator”, the state of California plunged into an employment crisis; Strauss-Kahn, meanwhile, presided over the imposition of punishing austerity programmes in Greece, Ireland and Portugal, which have failed to rescue the eurozone.

We like to see this type of politician as dynamic, dangerous and in control. In reality, they embody a species of disaster capitalism that is paranoid and exploitative. The men in charge of banks and governments are ordinary idiots with ordinary fallibilities. They manipulate their playboy image to shore up their political power, sometimes with the support of their wives. During her husband’s election campaign, Anne Sinclair was asked if she was bothered by Strauss-Kahn’s sexual reputation. “I’m actually rather proud of it,” she replied. “It’s important for a politician to seduce.”

Like Sinclair, many of us long for a politics of exciting mutual seduction. Instead, we find ourselves cruelly and ineptly shafted by plutocrats who abuse their privilege to cover their tracks. Jokes about the Chancellor, George Osborne, rogering the British economy and requesting a superinjunction are all very well, but if we want to live in a world where women are respected and workers are protected, it is not enough to point and laugh when power has its trousers down.


The biggest, boldest, and baddest sex scandal

Buffalo’s biggest, baddest sex scandal

by Gary Burns

Long before Jack Kennedy was sneaking Marilyn Monroe into his White House bedroom, long before Bill Clinton was showing off his cigar to Monica and before Arnold Schwarzeneger got to know the household help intimately, the world had Buffalo’s own Grover Cleveland, who was twice elected president of the United States.

Grover Cleveland loved the ladies and, apparently, he insisted rather firmly that they love him back.

Fire up the Way-Back Machine: Cleveland was elected president of the United States in 1884 and 1892. Before that, he was elected sheriff of Erie County, at the age of 33. Then, he was mayor of Buffalo. Then, governor of New York. The man was a phenom. When he snagged the Democratic nomination in 1884, he was acclaimed as “Grover the Good.”

According to a forthcoming book, however, Grover was not always so good – no siree. You could ask one Maria Halpin about the dark side of Grover Cleveland, except that she’s dead, and has been since 1902.

The history books tell us that Cleveland faced accusations during the 1884 campaign that he had fathered an illegitimate child, and Halpin was the mother. Cleveland’s political opposition countered his “Grover the Good” image with a slogan of their own: “Ma, Ma, where’s my Pa?”

A scandal arose, which Cleveland’s forces tamped down by admitting that the while the candidate did pay child support to Halpin, her child was fathered by one of his cronies. In fact, the Cleveland forces said, Halpin had relations with several high-powered political men and Cleveland took responsibility only because he was the sole unmarried man among them. He was just trying to be a good guy.

The explanation was good enough to keep the matter of the illegitimate-child on the back burner.

The real story is much uglier, according to a soon-to-be-published book, “A Secret Life: The Lies and Scandals of President Grover Cleveland,” by Charles Lachman. Lachman spent three years researching the Grover Cleveland/Maria Halpin relationship. He says he discovered what amounts to a very large, very old basket of dirty laundry.

Lachman previews his upcoming book online, in an item in “The Daily Beast.” According to Lachman, Halpin was an attractive, 38-year-old widow with two young children. She was a regular churchgoer and worked as a clerk in a department store. Lachman reports that she did not at all have a reputation as a loose woman. She had, however, been “dating” Cleveland, who was 37 at the time, for several months.

One evening, on Swan Street in Buffalo, the two ran into each other. Cleveland insisted on taking Halpin to dinner and later escorted her back to her boarding house. There, according to a Halpin affidavit unearthed by Lachman, Cleveland sexually assaulted the woman by “use of force and violence and without my consent.”

Halpin later swore that Cleveland threatened her if she revealed what had happened to the police, or anyone else in a position to act upon the information.

A baby boy was born to Halpin in the autumn of 1874 in Buffalo’s hospital for unwed mothers. According to Lachman, Cleveland saw to it that the child was taken from its mother and placed in the Buffalo Orphan Asylum. Halpin was briefly placed in a mental institution, also upon Cleveland’s orders, Lachman says. She was quickly released, however.

Basically, according to the story Lachman tells, Buffalo’s Grover Cleveland was a first-class swine in his dealings with Ms. Halpin.

Later, while in the White House, Cleveland married the daughter of a friend, a 21-year-old woman (who was 27 years younger than he was).

Lachman is the executive producer of the television show, Inside Edition. He was a producer for A Current Affair and was a reporter for the New York Post and The Fort Lauderdale News. He has written several other books. He lives in New York City.

“A Secret Life” is due from Skyhorse Publishing on August 1.


America’s Forgotten Presidential Sex Scandal

by Charles Lachman

Forget Arnold Schwarzenegger or John Edwards. One of the greatest political sex scandals happened to Grover Cleveland. Journalist Charles Lachman reveals the sordid details of rape, an unwanted child, and the coverup.

Arnold Schwarzenegger. John Edwards. Grover Cleveland?

It’s true. In the annals of illegitimate children born to powerful politicians, President Grover Cleveland must rank uppermost. While Schwarzenegger made it with the maidand John Edwards betrayed his wife with a woman who picked him up in a bar, neither can touch the awful acts of Grover Cleveland.

Article - Lachman Grover Cleveland

Grover Cleveland is rumored to have had many affairs during his life. Credit: Stock Montage / Getty Images

Cleveland’s claim to fame is as the only American president to serve two non-consecutive terms in office, and he’s remembered as a courageous and pugnaciously honest statesman. But I’ve spent three years investigating Grover Cleveland for my new book, A Secret Life, tracing the ways in which Cleveland and his keys aides lied about a sex scandal to save his presidential campaign from the career-ending allegations. It’s time to correct the record.

Book Cover - A Secret Life: The Lies and Scandals of President Grover Cleveland

A Secret Life: The Lies and Scandals of President Grover Cleveland By Charles Lachman 496 pages. Skyhorse Publishing. $24.95.

Cleveland’s sex scandal was well buried, but I found the long-forgotten affidavit from Maria Halpin, about the violent sexual assault that resulted in the birth of Cleveland’s illegitimate child.

On the evening of Dec. 15, 1873, Halpin, an attractive 38-year-old sales clerk working at a department store in Buffalo, New York, was on her way to a friend’s birthday party when she ran into Cleveland strolling down Swan Street. Cleveland was a chunky 37-year-old bachelor whose six-foot frame projected a figure of might and vitality. He had been courting Halpin for several months and they exchanged greetings. Cleveland invited her to dinner at the Ocean Dining Hall & Oyster House. He was pretty “persistent” about it, Halpin would later recall.

Their meal together was a pleasant one. Cleveland escorted Halpin back to her room at a downtown boarding house. What happened next, according to Halpin’s affidavit, would in another era be classified as date rape. Cleveland sexually assaulted her “[b]y use of force and violence and without my consent,” Halpin reported, adding that when she threatened to notify the authorities, Cleveland “told me he was determined to ruin me if it cost him $10,000, if he was hanged by the neck for it. I then and there told him that I never wanted to see him again [and] commanded him to leave my room, which he did.”

Cleveland saw the matter through in the most “courageous way,” the PR spin went, explaining that his indifference to the boy was due to “doubts about his fatherhood.”

Six weeks later, Maria became aware that she was pregnant.

The boy was born on September 14, 1874, in a hospital for unwed mothers in Buffalo. He was named Oscar Folsom Cleveland, after Cleveland’s best friend (Cleveland would later marry Folsom’s daughter despite a 27-year difference in age, and she became America’s youngest first lady. But that’s another story.)

What happened to Maria Halpin next was a cruel injustice straight out of a Charles Dickens novel. Cleveland arranged to have the child forcibly removed from his mother and placed in the Buffalo Orphan Asylum. Maria Halpin was thrown into the Providence Lunatic Asylum, although the facility’s medical director quickly released her after an evaluation, concluding (correctly) that she was not insane and that her incarceration was the result of an abuse of power by political elites.

Cleveland won election as mayor of Buffalo on a clean-government platform in 1881. A year later, he became governor of New York. As “Grover the Good,” he won the Democratic nomination for president in 1884. Once he was named to the national ticket, it didn’t take long for the media to expose the existence of his illegitimate son. What followed next was a malicious smear campaign: Cleveland’s people got the word out that Halpin was a sexual plaything who drank to excess and was intimate with at least three (and possibly four) married men, all of them cronies of Cleveland. Cleveland, it was said, took responsibility for the child’s conception because he was the only bachelor among Maria Halpin’s gentlemen callers. Cleveland saw the matter through in the most “courageous way,” the PR spin went, explaining that his indifference to the boy was due to “doubts about his fatherhood.”

Utter nonsense. My research has established that this time-honored version of the Cleveland scandal is fundamentally dishonest—almost entirely a fairy tale. Maria Halpin was no harlot. She was a widow with two young children, a church-going woman held in high esteem by all who knew her. From everything I could discover about her life, she was what in the 19th century would be termed a chaste woman.

Maria Halpin died in 1902 at age 66, with $200 to her name, forever linked to scandal and shame. On her deathbed she reportedly said, “Do not let the funeral be too public. I do not want strangers to come and gaze upon my face. Let everything be very quiet. Let me rest.”

I don’t know how history will treat John Edwards’ ex-mistress, Rielle Hunter, or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s maid. But if Maria Halpin’s experience is any standard, they’d better brace themselves.

By the way, the next time you’re at a cocktail party and somebody asks you who’s the biggest lowlife—Arnold Schwarzenegger or John Edwards—you can tell them the worst villain of all was Grover Cleveland.