This was not having too many Mind Erasers at Rumjungle and playing kissy-face with a college girl from Kansas. It was a full-blown affair. With a friend’s wife. For nine months.
John Ensign did not just cheat on his wife. He had an actual relationship with another woman, emotions included with the hanky panky. That is what separates his actions from many of the shameful episodes of cheating spouses that have disgraced the country while providing endless voyeuristic entertainment.
Eliot Spitzer and David Vitter went for the prostitutes. Larry Craig went for the cheap thrill of an airport bathroom. Bill Clinton went for the intern. Those are in-the-moment lustful decisions.
Ensign’s was a calculated, ongoing lie. A double life of sorts, with lies piled on top of deceptions and a side of deceit. And that’s worse than any 10 minutes in the end stall.
Former presidential candidate John Edwards did the same kind of thing. He didn’t call a number or tap his foot. He went on dates with a woman so vapid that she was the basis for Alison Poole in Jay McInerney’s novel Story of My Life.
But, really, it’s all old news.
As long as there have been politicians there have been mistresses. This predates Marilyn Monroe singing to JFK. King Henry VIII had so many torrid affairs that 500 years later it still makes good pay-cable fodder.
Now we live in a world where AshleyMadison.com has risen to pop-culture relevance by offering a dating service specifically for married folks looking to stray.
The tagline: “Life is short. Have an affair.”
That seems slightly more humane that going after your buddy’s girl. But less than a drunken night at a club. At least then the lies only come later.