Sex scandals worth noting, but can we dial them back a bit, please?

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Political discourse is reaching new lows in America. The latest example is Jimmy Kimmel’s guest appearance by porn star Stormy Daniels, who had a chance to chose the appropriate mushroom as a reference in her alleged encounter with now-President Donald Trump.

Her reference has drawn criticism — from Mario Brothers electronic game fans.

Sex scandals are nothing new — remember King David and Bathsheba? — but today’s 24-hour news cycle and unlimited news sources have shifted them into overdrive.

The Broadway musical Hamilton is a hit in part because the story of its namesake’s affair with Maria Reynolds, and Thomas Jefferson is said to have fathered children with slave Sally Hemings.

Vice-President Rufus King was supposedly involved in a homosexual affair in Washington — Andrew Jackson referred to him as “Miss Nancy,” and Grover Cleveland survived a paternity scandal by acknowledging it.

Woodrow Wilson and Warren Harding were accused of affairs, and John F. Kennedy was famously involved in a number of extramarital affairs, including movie star Marilyn Monroe, mafia mistress Judith Campbell Exner and intern Mimi Alford.

Gary Hart’s presidential campaign was derailed by a sex scandal, but nothing put the spotlight on presidential dalliances like President Bill Clinton’s involvement with intern Monica Lewinsky and others.

It’s been all downhill since then, with the current Brett Kavanaugh nomination controversy set against the climate created by President Trump’s real or perceived sexual history.

No one is suggesting we return to the days when Washington reporters had a “gentleman’s agreement” not to report on JFK’s affairs.

But can we at least agree to concentrate on bigger policy issues that have real consequences, rather than salacious accounts of what goes on behind closed doors?

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