The fact is that Washington has always been a sex-crazed town. Sex is the one entitlement that no matter how many powerful men, and now women, get outed and put in the stocks to be hooted or reviled by their fellow adulterers in the media and the hallowed halls of Government, the lure of the hormonal urge continues on its merry way.
Whatever the real reasons for General David Petraeus' guilt-trip confession and subsequent resignation for the alleged "good of the country," what baffles me is the hypocrisy and addled reasoning that has been given to justify his action and the idea that his exercise of the out of marriage venery compromises our security.
As someone who spent more than three decades in Washington D.C. consorting with and carefully observing the antics of our capital's elite (which subsequently provided the inspiration for my Fiona FitzGerald mysteries soon to be a TV series), what General Petraeus did seems like a mild hiccup in the course of contemporary history.
It is common knowledge that at least five of our Presidents in my lifetime exercised the venery outside of their marriage vows, the last of which was documented ad infinitum and continues as media fodder to this day. Four were all men who had their roving finger on the nuclear trigger. Talk about compromising national security.
Even the most casual student of American history will certainly be aware that one of our beloved founders, Ben Franklin, was a notorious womanizer and Thomas Jefferson, by today's standards, would be considered a pedophile. The brilliant and notorious Alexander Hamilton was also rather active in the adultery department. There are undoubtedly many other examples that have been duly recorded.
Indeed, there is a long, long documented list of married national legislators who have succumbed to the blandishments of various females, and for obvious reasons. Many of these testosterone overdosed, super-achiever men spend days, weeks or months away from their wives or significant others.
Some have been outed and had their careers ruined while others, skillful and cunning in the ways of avoidance and clever spinmeistering, have survived. Note, I have not delved into the homosexual aspect, which has its own sordid history of 'gotcha' media revelation.
It used to be a media tradition in the nation's capital that the peccadillos of important politicians, specifically sex and alcohol abuse, were off limits to media coverage. Indeed, it is well known that many a powerful legislator has attended sessions and voted under the influence.
Few people are aware that there are many private rooms in the Senate Office Building maintained for individual Senators who use them to get away from the pressures of their job, pursue hobbies, have private dinners, entertain guests, and have been known to serve as protected trysting chambers. As they say, if those walls could talk.
One notorious President of comparatively recent vintage was a well know serial adulterer with an army of pimps around the Capital circuit to supply him with willing partners.
It won't take much hunting through data banks to uncover the episode of the alleged East German spy who was unwittingly pimped to a sexually notorious sitting President, and when exposed, was whisked away on a plane to her native country. One wonders whether it occurred before or after consummation.
Of course, it is easy to make sly jokes about such violations of the marriage vows, but the temptations fueled by absence, power and hero worship have always had a profound hormonal effect on men and women.
There are those who truly believe that people with repressed or shallow libidos make lousy leaders.
There is another angle left unexplored in this essay, and that is the nature of love, that most elusive and stubbornly indefinable circumstance that has emotionally entrapped many unsuspecting victims from Kings to commoners.
Oddly, it has not come up in the Petraeus episode, but I'll bet the barn that there is more to this affair than merely lust, and I suspect that there is a next chapter yet to come. Nor shall we discount jealousy and rage. Stranger than fiction? Not to this fictioneer. My Fiona Fitzgerald series often seems like a running commentary on the truth of what goes on behind the scenes of our enigmatic national capital. President Washington, a paragon of virtue, would be appalled at what goes on in the city named for him.
Perhaps, canny old Henry Kissinger had it correctly when he defined the phenomenon as the aphrodisiac of power. I would give him a passing grade on that one. After all, he was a gay blade, the older definition; a single divorcee during most of his Washington stay and right up there on the power grid, able to have the pick of the sexual litter.
What is most disturbing about the Petraeus affair is that this exceptionally talented leader seems to have been chosen, perhaps self-chosen, to be a sacrificial lamb in a culture saturated with internet pornography, graphic and sexually explicit mass television programs, a wildly popular best-selling series about the alleged orgasmic pleasures of sado-masochism, the enormous demand for sexually enhancing drugs, a pervasive "hook-up" social interaction, and the startling statistic of out of marriage births.
Considering, too, the personal ramifications of these revelations and the triple standards of our current culture, one wonders if the matter could have been handled in a far less public way, retaining the General's leadership skills and the wisdom of experience in a Washington that suffers from a serious diminishment of such expertise.
Warren Adler has just released his 33rd book "The Serpent's Bite." Best known for "The War of the Roses," his masterpiece fictionalization of a macabre divorce turned into the dark comedy box office hit starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito, Warren Adler quickly became the fountainhead of Hollywood screenplay adaptations, fueling an unprecedented bidding war in a Hollywood commission for his unpublished book "Private Lies." While "The War of the Roses" garnered outstanding box office and critical success with Golden Globe, BAFTA and multiple award nominations internationally, Adler went on to sell movie and film rights for 12 books, all noted for his character driven and masterful storytelling. Produced by Linda Lavin for PBS' American Playhouse series, Adler's "The Sunset Gang" was adapted into a trilogy starring Uta Hagen, Harold Gould and Jerry Stiller, garnering Doris Roberts an Emmy nomination for 'Best Supporting Actress in a Mini-Series.' "The Serpent's Bite" is now available as an e-book and hardback.