Power, Sex, and Politics

By | 2017-06-02T18:30:05+00:00 November 24, 2017|
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Power,” Henry Kissinger observed, “is the ultimate aphrodisiac.” Men, but mostly women, have been trading erotic services for access to power since time began.

The ruling class’s recent carrying on over a supposed epidemic of powerful grabbers and gropers runs counter to common sense and experience. If Henry, who resembled less a prince than a frog even in his youth found his connections with power and wealth sufficient to satisfy his longings, so can anyone similarly placed.

Nor is there any evidence of a sudden increase in morality or restraint having cut into the supply of the willing. There is even less reason to believe that the very same arbiters of public behavior who, increasingly, penalize advocacy of restricting sex to men and women married to one another have become defenders of female modesty.

What, then, is the fuss about? It seems as the ruling class’s leadership experiences a major turnover, it is making a minor shift in tactics and in its list of enemies. Herewith, I try to explain.

Washington’s Trade-Offs
First, the basics. During my eight years on the Senate staff, sex was a currency for renting rungs on ladders to power. Uninvolved and with a hygroscopic shoulder, I listened to accounts of the trade, in which some one-third of senators, male senior staff, and corresponding numbers of females seemed to be involved. I write “trade,” because not once did I hear of anyone forcing his attention. Given what seemed an endless supply of the willing, anyone who might feel compelled to do that would have been a loser otherwise unfit for survival in that demanding environment.

This, I wager, is not so different from others’ experiences in Washington. Senior female staffers were far more open than secretaries in describing their conquests of places up the ladder, especially of senators. There was some reticence only in talking about “relationships” with such as John Tower (R-Texas) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.) because they were the easiest, and had so many. The prize, of course, was Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.)—rooster over a veritable hen house that was, almost literally, a “chick magnet.” Access to power, or status, or the appearance thereof was on one side, sex on the other. Innocence was the one quality entirely absent on all sides.

In the basic bargain, the female proposes. The power holder has the prerogative to say “no,” or just to do nothing. By a lesser token, wealthy men need not offer cash to have female attention showered on them. Money is silver currency. Power is gold. A few, occasionally, get impatient and grab. But taking egregious behavior as the norm of the relationship between power and sex willfully disregards reality. Banish the grabbing, and the fundamental reality remains unchanged.

The Sins of Others
What, then, are our powerful rulers’ claims of zero tolerance for sexual harassment or sexual commerce about? First, they do not involve the ruling class giving up any of their privileges, never mind what are effectively their harems. They are confessions—not of their own sins, but of the sins of others. The others whose sins they confess are not the friends of those doing the confessing—at least, not their current friends. Yet again, they implicitly validate their own behavior by signaling their own virtue vis à vis others.

The Clintons and the Weinsteins, yesterday’s ruling class paragons, are useful foils. When, inadvertently, photos implicate a member of the current ruling class leadership, such as Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) in beastly behavior, ruling class colleagues and media give him a pass (“he apologized!”) and use his case unfavorably to contrast the real enemies—always on the Right: President Donald Trump and Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore. “They are disqualified from office because they haven’t even admitted their guilt!”

In short, penalties for breaches of any item of political correctness are and will remain what they have been in the past, without exception: thinly veiled excuses to harm whoever stands in the way of the ruling class’s members.

This fact ceased to be a secret some time ago and explains the difficulty of having to maintain the authority of P.C.’s strictures. Thus we have the elaborate edifice of kangaroo courts and sensitivity training that governments and corporations have imposed on their fellow Americans more or less discredited in the eyes of just about everyone. Given that, something was needed to show that the whole P.C. montage is something other than what it is—and that America should stand with the ruling class in defense of basic decency. We needed a good panic. So here it is.

But basic decency be damned. The current campaign against a few, carefully targeted butt-grabbers is specifically designed to renew ruling class authority to continue business as usual, meaning to make socio-political war on the usual suspects.

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About the Author:

Angelo Codevilla

Angelo M. Codevilla is a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute, professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University and the author of To Make And Keep Peace, Hoover Institution Press, 2014

  • Joel Mathis

    So the 14-year-old that Roy Moore is alleged to have touched —she was trading for access to power, and thus the accusations against Moore are just the ruling class unfairly applying PC standards to him?

    That’s neat.

    • If true it is disqualifying but is it true ?

    • Maxentius

      If it is true, yes he is disqualified. I am not sure if it is true or not, why are you so sure? Do you have new information?
      (P.S. Merely saying something is credible is not the same as it being true…..)

      • Andy Maxwell

        Just saying something about a Republican is all the proof leftists and their media enablers need. On the other hand, the Clintons are clean as a whistle because they’ve never been convicted.

    • SDN

      Leaving aside the whole “alleged” as in no proof….

      Where do you think the first rung of the ladder is? Got news for you: it starts in high school. Sex for grades. Want to recruit the star player for college? Make sure his girlfriend has an admissions “in” if he wants it.

      Momma wants a better alimony check? Meet my daughter.

      That humans will use each other for power surprises no one. Pretending to be surprised only marks you as dishonest.

      • TooTall7

        Or naive and stupid. Aren’t lefties supposed to be smart?

    • kentramsay

      She is now a 54 year old liar.

    • charlesrwilliams

      Well, we really don’t know what happened, do we? And after 40 years we are unlikely to unravel the story. It would not surprise me if a 14 year old girl with family issues would find a young, powerful high status man appealing. And, of course, this is why we have age of consent laws. It would not surprise me if she had a vivid imagination and embellished the story. It would not surprise me if Roy Moore went too far before stopping with her. And it would not surprise me if Roy Moore’s memory is truly faulty.

      What matters in this situation is whether we think Moore would misbehave sexually as a senator. The best way to get at this is personal behavior as a judge in recent decades.

  • Some years ago, I understand, the Congress removed all the spittoons. That’s a pity because it left the average Senator or Representative nothing to admire. And see where that’s gotten us.

  • Epaminondas

    Yes, all this goes without saying. The fly in the ointment is the presence of so many women involved in politics. This is a relatively new phenomenon. In the 19th century, prostitutes in Washington D.C. offered their services to the politician who found himself far from home and lacking female companionship. That was understandable in the same way as the cluster of whorehouses surrounding a military base. (The Fannie Flagg/Wilbur Mills case is exhibit #1.) The problem today is that women have been accepted as equals. But the playing field is not level. As Codevilla noted, women are masters at trading sex for money and power. I think men have just allowed the fox into the henhouse. Women have no compunction about stealing a man away from his wife if that man has what they want. The situation in Washington is no only immoral, it is untenable. Ladies, go home to your families for the sake of our nation and leave the politician to his prostitutes.

    • Jon Schneck

      the real problem is that the system is so corrupt that there is so much money and power to trade. reduce the federal government to just what is enumerated in the Constitution. eliminate earmarks or any type of special treatment in legislation, institute strict term limits. shoot all lobyists. most of all make all elected officials follow all the laws we thre people have to.

      • TooTall7

        Absolutely correct! It is irresistible!

      • Epaminondas

        That, too.

      • Hominid

        Who’s gunna do that?

    • L_W

      Why can’t men be responsible for being true to their wives?
      Too much to ask?

      • Epaminondas

        Go and ask the home wreckers that question. It takes two to tango.

        • L_W

          LOL, yes indeed. And you seem intent on ignoring one of those 2.

          • Epaminondas

            I’m realistic. You should be, too. Women are often the instigators and they hold the whip hand. They want to be in the arena with men, and then claim they are victims. I’m not buying it. Women don’t belong in many professions and we now know why.

          • L_W

            No, you’re shifting responsibility. Two adults, both have
            equal responsibility if they are acting inappropriately.

  • SmartProf

    It’s disqualifying when Republicans do it.
    It’s not disqualifying when Democrats do it.
    It’s racist! to point out when Black Democrats do it.

    • wheretonow

      Not only is it “not disqualifying when Democrats do it,” it is now “whataboutism” to even mention Democrats doing it. Apparently, “whataboutism” is any time anyone points out hypocrisy (or anything else, I guess) on the part of leftists.

      • Peter Henderson

        Stigmatizing “whataboutism” is like stigmatizing logical consistency. If you’re dumb enough to fall for it you deserve what you get.

  • donqpublic

    Hmm. Social mobility; have knee pads, will travel.

    • Stick

      More like Careerism.

  • quodverum

    What’s it all about ? This slate of “sex harassment” stories to titillate the masses?

    Why it’s all about?

    The Law. And the tangible benefits to be gained from it by The ordained priests and their collaborators” of the “sexually harassed”.

    NOW given their fifteen minutes of fame for “allegations” of having been groped? By some hairy beast of the male persuasion. Even In positions where they MIGHT be and have been, of use to some of the “groped. But THOSE WE

    Which of course makes those hapless not only “groped” but actually attacked, and or raped in the traditional meaning of that word, of little interest. They of interest ONLY the “law enforcers” who require ?O because the “The People Who Count” have decided that to keep their control of the masses, there’s no better entertainment. Sex sells. control the masses?

    Not in the living memory of some of the “stupid citizens, basket of deplorables”, the “vulgar,boorish, infra dig Commoners ePARTY OF The People rThe ordained priests in positions of power who see the power in sex. Of any kind,

  • JohnnyClams

    Too much reality going on here.

  • Stick

    Money for nothing, Chicks for Free. It is the basic reason for being. The Fems reason for being seems to be is Money for Nothing, Chicks for Free and Lets have the occassional weeny roast to show whose in charge for the moment. The Fems lost their only true love Hillary, now there will be hell to pay.

    • Andy Maxwell

      The Fems sided with Bill because he was all for abortion-on-demand. They paid homage to him for 20 years because of that one thing.

  • Tomas Pajaros

    VP Pence just looks wiser and wiser, doesn’t he? This is much more emotionally fraught, but it really is just like the House postal scandal of the 80’s. They had all been scamming the system for so long it just seemed normal, and they forgot that it might be wise to keep it 100% out of sight and undocumented. Speaker Rostenkowski went down along with many others, when it suddenly became a public “thing” and spiraled out of control.
    .
    Same dynamic here – accepted behavior for so long they all take it for granted and forget they are actually doing something wrong that would be bad if it came out. Author is right, expecting anything to actually change is foolish. Everyone will just get a lot more careful and anyone with higher expectations will likely follow the Pence model. Maybe that’s not all bad. I know the exposure of the hypocrisy on the part of NOW and fellow travelers is priceless. I say defeat Moore and watch Franken and Conyers continue as lapdogs for their female leash-holders.

  • Zizou

    I’m disappointed to see this article on this site. Blaming women rather than the men who should honour the values they represent is old fashioned. Perhaps, both are at fault, but solely blaming women is simply too easy and a cop out. I’m sure your other female readers feel the same

    • CosmotKat

      Why should women be absolved from blame? Plenty of women are often the aggressors who seek upward mobility in anyway they can achieve it and sex is a powerful weapon in their climb up the ladder..

      • Zizou

        I didn’t say women should be absolved of blame. I mentioned both are to blame. Non? I I work in finance and have witnessed what you mentioned several time. Certainly, far more less competent women have been advanced by using sex, but I also fault the “married” men for taking advantage of the tilted power structure to procure sexual favours.

    • kentramsay

      The author did not solely blame women. I am disappointed that a visitor at this site cannot read and comprehend.

  • Gartley 222

    “hygroscopic shoulder”….clever Angelo, clever..and good article too

  • JDL

    When Clinton refused to budge from office, the bar was set. NONE of these allegations will have any effect on anything and simply are to be ignored.

  • Bingo, thank you Angelo! Additionally, there are other factors at work which preclude the ruling class’ desire to continue business as usual.

  • sgtdad

    Sin from thy lips? O trespass sweetly urged!
    Give me my sin again.

  • olderwiser

    Long before the liberal progressives were besotted by virtue signaling, they were delighted by available signaling. From factory floors to the executive suite to the halls of power in every part of the world, transactional sex for future favors to be granted has been a reality for countless ages. Regardless of the gender of the person with the perceived greater power, this fact of human nature isn’t going away anytime soon. For men and women with the power to bestow favors, there has always been, is now, and always will be people eager to trade their bodies for advantage. The political leanings of the participants is irrelevant.

  • JoeS54

    I don’t condone the behavior of Weinstein, or any other specific case. but there are two important things here, that are not being addressed in the current frenzy.

    1. There are women who deliberately throw themselves at men with wealth and position, and “sleep their way to the top”. They play a direct role in creating expectations among men in that position when it comes to other women who do not want to go that route.

    2. The presumption of innocence, and the statute of limitations. This is not just a political or cultural issue. It is a legal issue. In cases where crimes are alleged, we have a court system for that purpose.

    • dh122

      One woman who threw herself at a man so she could sleep her way to the top is Sen. Kamala Harris. She was Willy Brown’s mistress when he was the Speaker of the Assembly in CA and maybe the most powerful man in CA.

  • BanBait

    There is a greater than zero chance that the unleashing of these 21st century Red Guards may be an uncontrollable event. This has the distinct possibility of causing a LOT of collateral damage to the progs. There’re a lot of people on Capitol Hill that aren’t sleeping well this week.

  • An interesting thing about all this sexual harassment excitement is that illicit sexual behavior is a huge plus for women’s career advancement on average. It’s just that we don’t hear about the 95% that is voluntary.

    • That’s the fine print we’re not supposed to read.

  • Dannz

    Everything must change so that everything can remain the same.

  • Peter Henderson

    Republicans have only themselves to blame. Most of the party are professional losers — “controlled opposition” is the expression. They depend on the same billionaire power brokers as the Dems. The conservative media has been aptly compared to the Washington Generals (Google them.)

  • John Willson

    Angelo Codevilla says all that needs to be said. More will be said, most of it by people who wish to shape reality to one or another ideology. If you are from Alabama, move on, remember what’s at stake, vote for Judge Moore.

  • Reading this makes me hate women.

  • Panchatrantra

    “If Henry, who resembled less a prince than a frog even in his youth found his connections with power and wealth sufficient to satisfy his longings, so can anyone similarly placed”
    He can. Henry Kissinger is a Jew and being a Jew he has connections to power and wealth the rest of us do not.

  • Ninco Nanco

    So close, so close . . .

  • charlesrwilliams

    How else to explain the contempt for Mike Pence’s rules except that he refuses to play the power game. He makes himself unavailable to women who choose to use their sexuality to get what they want.

    • L_W

      The problem with the Pence rule is that it does not totally protect him from false accusations from women (it helps but is not fail-safe) and it does not protect him from accusations from men at all.

  • L_W

    While what Mr. Codevillla says is true, many women offer themselves to wealthy, famous and/or powerful men (I have witnessed this myself) it is also true that society creates an expectation on women that this is the norm. And many men readily accept it as the norm, why wouldn’t they?

    Trump said it himself “When you’re a star they let you do it.” He is perfectly correct in saying this. But he also shows no reluctance at this being the norm.

    Rarely discussed are women who don’t follow this norm. They are basically non-persons.

    Everything is (maybe it always was) sexually transactional. I have witnessed this personally myself. The baseline is already pre-set before you arrive as a young woman in business or whatever that this is the norm and if you do not comply there is either something unusual with you or worse … you’re not a ‘team player’ as it were.

    A very sordid system all around. The women no one wants to discuss are the ones who succeed on their own talents and merits. Such women make both men and women uncomfortable to even contemplate. Such women are not even considered women in many cases so strong is the transactional norm.

  • L_W

    While what Mr Codevilla says is true, many women offer
    themselves to wealthy, famous and/or powerful men (I have witnessed this
    myself) it is also true that society creates an expectation on women that this
    is the norm. And many men readily accept it as the norm, why wouldn’t
    they?

    Trump said it himself “When you’re a star they let you
    do it.” He is perfectly correct in
    saying this. But he also shows no reluctance at this being the norm.

    Rarely discussed are women who don’t follow this norm. They
    are basically non-persons.

    Everything is (maybe it always was) sexually transactional.
    I have witnessed this personally myself. The baseline is already pre-set before
    you arrive as a young woman in business or whatever that this is the norm and
    if you do not comply there is either something unusual with you or worse
    … you’re not a ‘team player’ as it
    were.

    A very sordid system all around. The women no one wants to
    discuss are the ones who succeed on their own talents and merits. Such women
    make both men and women uncomfortable to even contemplate. It upsets age an age old status quo. Such women are not even considered women in
    many cases so strong is the transactional norm.