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What Do Schwarzenegger and Strauss-Kahn Have in Common?

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DOMINIQUE STRAUSSKAHN
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The news has been dominated this week by revelations of Arnold Schwarzenegger's love child and Dominique Strauss-Kahn's arrest, which has led many to draw comparisons between the two stories. But these are by no means the first examples of philandering, says Time's Jeffrey Kluger, who points to a long tradition of men behaving badly.

Then, there was the coincidental timing of The Good Wife's season finale last night, which some critics say couldn't have hit at a better time for the show's ongoing story arc revolving around a politician recovering after an extra-marital affair and high-profile scandal. "Even Osama bin Laden had several wives and his stash of porn. Does behavior like this just go with alpha-male territory?" asks The Washington Post's Matt Miller. But do these most recent incidents really have anything to do with each other?

No -- they're not alike:

"In reporting these stories, a clear distinction must be made: One case is of vital public interest, the other simply fodder for gossip. Strauss-Kahn, the possible French presidential candidate accused of sexually assaulting and attempting to rape a housekeeper at a fancy New York City hotel, shouldn't be lumped in with philandering politicians. There's a huge difference between treating women caddishly and treating them criminally. This isn't just another 'sex scandal.'" Editorial Board, Newark Star-Ledger

Yes -- they both speak to men's behavior:

"Such men have forgotten, if indeed they ever had them, any notions they may have had of integrity. They're surrounded by sycophants who fear the consequences of falling out of favour, and so they never hear the word 'no'. They break rules with impunity because they don't fear being caught...the surprise is not that any of these men have been felled by their own hubris, but that it took so long." Sandra Parsons, Daily Mail

It reflects our interest in these stories:

"Politicians are probably no more prone to immorality and hypocrisy than the general populace. Divorce courts and prisons are full of non-politicians. So why does it seem so much more shocking when politicians, who are humans after all, get caught out doing wrong? Probably because to be a politician means asking absolute strangers, sometimes in the millions, to trust you. And, amazingly, many of those strangers do. It means selling an image of integrity that may not actually match reality." Frank James, NPR

Power makes for bad culture:

"To be clear, there are two camps of egotistical politicians who cheat so stupidly, and the two should not be conflated: those who value consent and those who treat women like sex toys they can grab at, with little regard for what the women in question feel on the subject. Men like Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich are cheating cads, but they, as far as we all know, draw the line at violence against women. Unfortunately, when you build up a culture of overwhelming male entitlement such as politicians live in, you can't expect all of them to understand that, while cheating and lying is bad, harassing and assaulting is exponentially worse." Amanda Marcotte, The Guardian

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