Who Cares About Sex In The Military As Long As They Can Still Break Things And Kill People.
By Jeff Smith
JIMMY CARTER, THE nearest thing to a saint we've put in the White House since the republic was founded, confessed to an interviewer from Playboy that he had "lusted in his heart." The admission raised more questions than it answered.
My personal curiosity was piqued to wonder who was the object of this lust, in so evidently lustless a man. Dolly Parton perhaps? Mother Theresa? How about that Maggie Thatcher?
What perplexed me more was, what was a nice boy like Jimmy Carter doing in a place like Playboy? Why did he feel it necessary to unburden himself of the perfect crime--no body, no witnesses, no evidence, no act? And who cares?
Who indeed gives a rat's ass that the champion of the free world has fleetingly entertained impure thoughts? Hell, George Washington lusted in half the country inns of the original 13 colonies. John Kennedy lusted in Marilyn Monroe's bed. Richard Nixon lusted in his pants. None of them felt compelled to confess. Yet here was Jimmy Carter, appearing in a hostile medium, telling the world what it otherwise never could have found out about his moral turpitude.
Well, Jimmy was a Southern Baptist and the nation was embarked upon an epoch of fierce moral rectitude. The appearance of it, at any rate.
Interestingly, instant analysis and subsequent historical score-keeping have judged Carter a failure as president and a rousing success as political retiree. The delicate moral sensibilities that seemed to paralyze President Carter with indecision and malaise energized ex-President Carter when it came time for charity to begin at home.
Okay, so what have we got here? Data, raw data from which we have learned, seemingly, nothing. Jimmy Carter: good man, bad president. Richard Nixon: bad man...well, he did get us talking with China. And what does this have to do with Joe Ralston and the Joint Chiefs of Staff?
From the day the White House press corps decided John Kennedy had been dead long enough and there was a bundle to be made writing books about all the women JFK had screwed, the lid was off and there was no turning back. Powerful people, from Washington to Jefferson to Marie Antoinette to Warren G. Harding, had powerful appetites. The drive that took them to heights of personal and political power were not, could not, be limited to one arena or a few. And like magnets, the powerful attract the weak.
There have been times in our history when we grasped this obvious truth more surely. In the present atmosphere of hypocritical piety and political correctness, we feign not to know or believe it, and the truth gleefully trusses us up like a sado-masochist's midnight snack.
Check the headlines: Kelly Flinn, female, first lieutenant, first woman to pilot a B-52, gets caught sleeping with a married man and after much public hoopla, gets discharged. Oh, the shame of it. Bill Clinton, president of the United States, ex-boy-governor of Arkansas, is accused of showing his cutie to a state employee. How many of you know what the "distinguishing characteristic" of Billy's willy is, and who's going to the National Enquirer with it first? The business of the nation may grind to a halt while we wrangle this out in court. And Gen. Joseph Ralston, nominee for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is found to have had an adulterous affair a decade ago, while he was separated from his wife. He has thus been deemed unfit to serve his nation in an important role for which he is deemed by military experience to be our best hope.
Let me get this straight now: The best warrior for the job of war chief has been 86ed because he got a little strange while he was estranged?
If Ralston had been in a bar fight and had turned tail and run when a waitress came at him with pool cue, I could see passing him over for the job. If Ralston were nominated to be chaplain for the combined armed services I'd consider the adultery thing and look elsewhere. But neither is the case. Ralston was considered for a job that challenges many skills and requires the best we find of the warrior/prince genre.
In the realm of Platonic ideals, nowhere does the job-description mention chastity. In fact, if memory serves (and research confirms), Plato said that virtue in a soldier is courage. If the Department of Defense were scouting virgins to serve wine and wafers at Sunday services, I would agree that chastity is required and Joe Ralston would not make the cut.
The fact of the matter is that powerful men and women, leaders, in overwhelming proportion are people of strong sexual drive. It literally cannot be otherwise. Let's go back a bit and review our Walt Disney, shall we? Remember those Sunday evening Disneyland TV hours? Recollect the feature films of the living desert, the vanishing prairie, the rams butting heads and salmon swimming upstream? The message in all of this is that the animal world--the world in which we are the top dog, stud duck, leader of the pack--is all about screwing.
That's what makes the world go 'round: seeing who gets to plant the seed, sit on the egg, that together become the next generation of sex-obsessed little would-be breeders. We can no more change this than we can fly. We deny this, only to the inevitable result that we fool ourselves, and fill our leadership roles with fools. It is not the impulse of the passive, the impotent, to seek the highest offices. It is not the impulse of the army of lesser leaders, middle-managers and foot soldiers needed to win such prizes, to follow the flag of a gelding.
Where we today have wandered from the path of truth is in our intense curiosity about the private lives of the rich and famous and powerful, arrayed against the myth of our national morality. We're not really a nation of virgins, run away from England for the sole reason of wanting religious freedom. We're not really a country full of cowboys whose only emotional attachment is to their horses. And why do you think the cattlemen really despised the sheepherders? Too little has been said for too long about that one.
What we are is a nation of small-time sinners, which is not per se unusual nor even particularly bad. The bad part is that we're hypocritical sinners. The worst of hypocrisy is self-delusion. It's time to get real and recognize that we all tend toward sins of the flesh, and that given the opportunity most of us would be olympic athletes in the sins-of-the-flesh decathalon.
Once we admit that Mr. Rogers makes a wonderful neighbor but a weak candidate for president or chief of staff, we will be better served.
News & Opinion: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
© 1995-99 DesertNet, LLC . Tucson Weekly . Info Booth . Powered by Dispatch