You’d think we’d be tired of it by now, all the hide-and-seek sexual storylines between powerful people and the intern/nanny/prostitute/co-worker. We know what kind of shrapnel it sprays into the media marketplace—the thousands of editorial columns, the scramble for a photo, the hiring of public relations experts, and the scripted confession.
I’ve lived through quite a few decades of it now. The couplings come in many shapes and sizes, and the media coverage is proportional to the paradox of its partners; in other words, a televangelist with a salvation message and a centerfold is irresistible. A sermonizing governor and his call girl is spellbinding. The leader of the free world risking it all for a giggling intern is astonishing.
So now we have another one. Same old story. New details. Why do we still care? Fifteen minutes of scrolling around the internet reveal that most of our reactions fall into one of four categories: moral, political, scientific, or emotional. The moralists say, Look at that—another weak leader shows us his natural depravity. I’m so glad I’m righteous. The political analysts examine the fallout: How does this impact public opinion, the party, the campaign? The scientists try to explain to us the brain circuitry that allows men to stray and women to stay. And finally, the emotional PTSD folks are reminded of their own personal scumbag stories and tell the wives to kick ‘em to the curb.