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Al Martinez

Mayor not unlike other men in power

July 16, 2007|Al Martinez

In a town that practically invented sex, it should come as no surprise that everyone is doing it.

For that reason, I find it difficult to hyperventilate over the erotic misbehavior of our mayor, who, as it turns out, was covering a female television reporter while she was covering him.

Granted that anyone who would leave his mate for a journalist ought to have his head examined, it's still not out of the ordinary for one to go prancing off with a new love in a culture that finds sharing a bed less traumatic than sharing a table at the bistro.

We are Hollywood, folks, and Hollywood is all about great bodies, hot desires, long weekends and Brad leaving Jen for Angelina, if you get my meaning.

Forget, for a moment, that Antonio Villaraigosa was married to someone else and that Mirthala Salinas was assigned by NBC-owned Telemundo to report on his activities as mayor, which she apparently interpreted to include his private preferences.

What they did, while possibly distasteful on many levels, not to mention unethical, is not unusual among men in power and the women who pursue them. To make my point, I bring you a brief contemporary history of illicit sex on a higher level.

Beginning with the World War II era, which many of you may recall, two prominent figures were said to be doing, well, **it** with their female assistants while married to others. That would be then-Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower with driver Kay Summersby while married to Mamie, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt with secretary Lucy Mercer while married to Eleanor.

Due to a more protective stance back then in the days preceding mad-dog journalism, the public knew nothing of those affairs, involved as we were with whopping the Germans and the Japanese, not to mention their little brothers, the Italians.

Since then, we've had a succession of presidents, some of whom have managed to work in a little on the side while running the country. Prominent among them was John F. Kennedy. He dallied with Marilyn Monroe, who sang happy birthday to him at Madison Square Garden as if it were a mating call, and Judith Campbell Exner, who, it was said, had gangland connections.

Kennedy's affair with the latter was apparently an open secret that Congress eventually got around to pondering 12 years after he was assassinated. As an indication of how protective his aides were, when former presidential advisor Dave Powers was asked about her, he replied in a spirit of jocularity, "The only Campbell I know is chunky vegetable soup," which indicates the laissez-faire attitude in politics toward extramarital affairs.

Fast forward to Bill Clinton -- past Jimmy Carter, who only lusted in his heart, and Richard Nixon, who only lusted for himself. From what we know of his romantic efforts, Slick Willie, as his detractors called him, was about as subtle as a pimple on the nose in his efforts to seduce just about any female within reach. What differentiated him from others in high office with similar inclinations is that he got caught.

In an effort to conceal the obvious but succeeding only in complicating it, Clinton declared that he did not have sex with that woman, meaning Monica Lewinsky, apparently alluding to a more traditional method of intimacy between a male and a female, not what he and Monica were actually doing in the Oval Office. I'm surprised that, in his effort to reconfigure the experience, he didn't call it bio-networking.

Sexual scandals among prominent men haven't all involved politicians. Raging hormones have also heated some of God's more prominent secular soldiers to devilish stints of misbehavior involving, at different times, secretaries, prostitutes and gay lovers. All cried copious tears of atonement when their sins were revealed and, thus cleansed, went on about their business.

So now filling our lives, our screens and our newspapers are the testosteronic misadventures of Mirthala and Tony, whom Washington Post writer William Booth describes as "the little firecracker with the Chiclet smile." By admitting adultery, the Little Firecracker hopes to ease its impact, meanwhile carrying out his duties cutting ribbons and filling potholes, while hoping we'll forget all about it by the next election.

What is largely ignored, except for Villaraigosa's passing reference from a prepared statement, is the humiliation he has caused his family. Although we may be culturally schizophrenic in our attitudes toward extramarital sex, simultaneously celebrating and condemning it as a recreational activity, the victims of disloyalty are often swept aside.

Jackie Kennedy and Hillary Clinton could handle it because both were creatures of a political environment, but Corina Villaraigosa seems to me somehow more emotionally battered by the indiscretions of a man who has been her husband for 20 years and is now L.A.'s newest dirty joke. But we butt-bump that aside in the overheated environment of a Hollywoodian party, and turn the music up a little louder. It's birth control pills for swinging women, Viagra for old men and beer for the kids. Let the good times, and the sad times, roll.

almtz13@aol.com

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