The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, March 30, 2008. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's Addiction in Society blog at PsychologyToday.com.
Why Politicians Get Laid More – the Low Road to the High Life
New Yorkers want to give newly anointed Governor David Patterson a break after his predecessor, Eliot Spitzer, father of three teenage daughters, resigned following revelations that he held a frequent flyer card with several call girl operations.
But it's been hard. Forget that Patterson took drugs when he was younger - thus qualifying for the category "being alive in America in the last several decades." First, Patterson himself has been a serial polygamist (his excuse, "I had multiple affairs over many years because my wife had one"). And, let's face it, Patterson's no Brad Pitt.
Then there's Patterson's: "I really shouldn't have gotten my political crony, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, to meet privately with my wife in her job representing a Harlem hospital, as well as getting her hundreds of thousands of dollars in state grants."
Well, why the heck not - at least that'll keep her quiet about the fooling around!
Mr. Patterson, in case you didn't know, is a champion of high ethical standards for politicians. But this post isn't about how politicians are corrupt. It's about how average shlubs who take rules seriously get laid less, make less money, get fewer favors, and don't gain political power.
It seems that successful people have a strong degree of the sociopathy that lands other, less talented and well-positioned people, in prison. How many male readers - who will never achieve political office or become multimillionaires like Bill Clinton - would accept oral sexual favors from a 21-year-old woman at work? You wouldn't? No wonder your career's stalled!
How many of you would get in front of a camera like Hillary Clinton and brag - with self-deprecating laughter - about how you ducked bullets while risking your life in a war zone when you were well aware this was a political cover story to show you didn't enter into wars lightly? (Who knew that Barry Levinson's film, "Wag the Dog," was actually a political primer?)
Not many, I warrant. And that's why you have no chance to become president. Really successful people break rules constantly. It's the route to the top. Prison inmates frequently explain their crimes as their simply doing what prominent people do to get ahead. Let's just say, recent headlines don't contradict their preposterous claims.
Do you know Martin Luther King was a womanizer who plagiarized his Ph.D. dissertation?
On the positive side, breaking rules indicates intense creativity - think Pablo Picasso. On the downside, it means violating all obligations and loyalties - think, errr, Pablo Picasso (who traded up in women whenever he had the chance).
Perhaps the one area where many middle-class Americans are willing to step out on ethical ledges is in seeking favors to get their children ahead - "If I contribute to x, you'll help my kid get into that school? You'll give my kid an internship and all I have to do is kiss what?"
Ironically, people who have taken the low road to get into the high life tend to teach their children not to do the same - Hillary and Bill would never let Chelsea take the risks they did. Most of us lecture our kids to keep their noses clean and follow all the rules - at the same time as we're skulking around to make sure they'll be rich no matter how lackadaisical their output is.
That's why we're cheating - so they don't have to!
(Biographical note: Stanton has recently entered a monastery - one that brews beer.)