The common denominator of Jewish sexual scandals

Heritage Florida Jewish News

By Richard A. Ries

At least five of the most notorious and sensational national sexual stories of the modern era belong to Jews: The Monica Lewinsky story of the 1990s; the quickly forgotten and tragic Chandra Levy affair in 2001; the duplicitous life of Governor Eliot Spitzer (who prosecuted prostitution rings, only to use them himself); the disturbing pedophilia of Jared Fogel, disgraced Subway pitchman, and now the libidinous Anthony Weiner once again creeping into national life.

To be sure, Jews have no monopoly on national or political sex scandals. Tiger Woods, we learned, was very much scoring off the links. Speaker Dennis Hastert was once third in line to the presidency, and then served time for predatory homosexual behavior on boys during his salad days as a wrestling coach in Illinois. And perhaps one of the more heart wrenching stories of recent times was the lurid details of disgraced Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, who will die in prison for rapes of children that went unreported for years.

But the typical American sexual scandal is neither the sexual excesses of a Tiger Woods nor the pedophilia of a Jerry Sandunsky. It is an extramarital affair between two consenting adults. This was true of North Carolinian Senator Jonathan Edwards, who fathered a child with a woman not his wife, and South Carolinian Governor Mark Sanford, who discovered that his soulmate was not his wife but rather a South American woman. This was true of General David Petraeus, who liked his biography so much he slept with his biographer, and this has been true of an array of political figures including the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Gary Hart, Speaker Newt Gingrich, and perhaps two dozen other congressional figures now of lesser name recognition. (Some of these figures were guilty of something Americans sometimes rightly find as ugly as adultery and that is hypocrisy: Gingrich was having an affair while calling for Bill Clinton’s ouster, and Jackson was having an affair while dispensing spiritual advice to Clinton when the Lewinsky news made headlines.)

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