A timely word of advice to American politicians: don’t. Whatever you’re thinking of doing tonight, just don’t.
Don’t take a photograph of yourself—bare-chested and flexing the guns—and email it to a woman you just met through Craigslist.1 Don’t make use of high-priced hookers.2 Don’t make use of low-priced hookers.3 Don’t try to score in the stall of an airport men’s room because, wow, that is not very sanitary, sir.4
Don’t exchange 14,000 sexually explicit messages with your chief of staff.5 Don’t divorce your first wife while she’s in hospital recovering from surgery to remove a tumour.6 And don’t cheat on your second wife with your future third wife. One can support family values without having the most families.
Don’t have an affair with the housekeeper.7 But if you do have an affair, don’t impregnate her. But if you do impregnate the housekeeper, at least don’t make a sequel to Kindergarten Cop. Give us that much.
This next one is important: don’t tickle your young male staffers.8 If you do tickle a young male staffer, don’t later go on in public about how you’re so very skilled at tickling. This is not a prudent juncture for boasting.
Speaking of staffers, don’t have romantic affairs with them.9 But if you are going to have an affair with a young female staffer, don’t first make a video with that staffer touting the virtues of abstinence.10 Because that would, in retrospect, become a pretty amusing video.
Don’t claim to be literally “hiking the Appalachian Trail” when you are in fact euphemistically “hiking the Appalachian Trail” with your mistress in Argentina.11
Don’t send sexually explicit text messages to teenage males working as congressional pages.12 If you campaign to replace the guy who did send explicit messages to teenage males, don’t brag about how you’re going to be a highly moral voice for your constituents13—because we all know how that’s going to end. It’s going to end with a Daily Show montage of your ensuing sexual indiscretions.
Don’t cheat on your cancer-stricken wife.14 But if you do cheat, at least don’t have a baby with your mistress. But if you do have a baby, just be sure you don’t do anything that could later get you indicted by a federal grand jury. But if you do get indic—you know what? Read up on John Edwards: start with the $400 haircut, and everything after that—don’t do any of it.
But most of all—and I can’t stress this one enough—don’t take a photograph of your crotch and send it out via Twitter to a nice young lady you hardly know.15 If you simply must send out a representation of your bulging underpants, maybe go with a charcoal sketch. It’s classier, and you can later claim it’s a topographical map of a briefs-shaped island with challenging terrain.
Either way, if you’re caught, don’t lie. Lying is the worst thing you could do, other than that first thing you just did. But when you do lie—and you will—don’t lie by claiming not to know if the genitals in question are your own. Instead, when Wolf Blitzer tries to break you, just say this: no hablo inglés, señor. Worked on this episode of Mr. Belvedere I saw.
Why should you not do all of these things, politicians of America? For us.
Sex scandals have become as integral to U.S. politics as patriotic rhetoric and xenophobia. We’ve come to expect and cherish these falls. The embarrassment. The shame. The fact that it’s not us being embarrassed or shamed. And oh, the hypocrisy!
But American politicians have become so adept at producing sex scandals that the bar is being set too high, too quickly. A week’s worth of coverage of Weiner’s wiener? We’re going to have to wait for the election of Willie T. McBoner before anyone can hope to top that.
So turn off the Twitter. Turn away from your attractive staffer. And hey, you, stop tickling that dude. You need to pace yourselves. The career you save may be your own.
1. Rep. Christopher Lee 2. Gov. Eliot Spitzer 3. Rep. Ken Calvert 4. Sen. Larry Craig 5. Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick 6. Rep. Newt Gingrich 7. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger 8. Rep. Eric Massa 9. A cast of thousands 10. Rep. Mark Souder 11. Gov. Mark Sanford 12. Rep. Mark Foley 13. Rep. Tim Mahoney 14. Sen. John Edwards 15. Rep. Anthony Weiner