Opinion

This is a perfect example of why politicians' sex scandals matter

Dominique Strauss-Kahn is in hot water again — and this time it has nothing to do with sex

Remember Dominique Strauss-Kahn?

This time, the former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund isn't in trouble with the law for alleged sexual assault or prostitution, but for financial fraud. Strauss-Kahn was the chairman of an investment fund named LSK (the SK in LSK stands for Strauss-Kahn) that went bankrupt last year and can't seem to be able to account for what it did with client funds. It seems that Strauss-Kahn's disregard for other people's dignity goes beyond the bedroom.

Which brings to mind the notion sometimes peddled by pundits whenever a political sex scandal erupts that we should all really just grow up and disregard our elected leaders' sexual foibles, so long as they get the job done. It's a reaction that arises naturally out of the prevailing worldview, which neatly separates body from mind and says only the latter is who we really are.

But do sexual desires really tell us nothing about a person? If Strauss-Kahn wanted to make money after his IMF flameout, he could have gotten some do-nothing job "advising" a hedge fund. But, it seems, the idea was to reinvent himself as a world-bestriding financier and so he started his own fund. It's hard not to see how megalomania and a violent, voracious sexual appetite could come from the same dark, dark, troubled place.

This isn't just true of Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Take two politicians whom, in the 1990s, millions of people entrusted with the power to eradicate humanity at the push of a button — former U.S. President Bill Clinton and former French President Jacques Chirac. Both men had distant fathers and loving mothers. Both men had off-the-charts interpersonal charisma and intellects combined with a deep insecurity and a concomitant desire for validation. Both men married for interest and then threw themselves into pursuits where they could receive the validation they craved: electoral politics and womanizing. Both men ended up at the top of the heap in the 1990s. Lacking spine or real beliefs, both men ended up governing from an ever-shifting center, breaking every trust, frustrating allies and enemies alike, and outlasting them through sheer tactical smarts, but leaving no discernible legacy.

We could have seen it coming; Indeed, we should have.

(The title of the greatest biography of Chirac is The Man Who Did Not Like Himself.)

Take it from the Bible or take it from Freud, the personal is the political and vice versa. Our sexuality is a messed-up tangle because we are a messed-up tangle. It's not at all crazy to think that someone who is a sexual predator is a predator in other ways. It's not at all crazy to think that someone who has sexual issues has issues, period. In fact, it's the opposite of crazy.

As a Christian, I applaud the instinct that recoils from moralizing and extends mercy to those who act out of their own brokenness, for aren't we all broken? But while I don't want to be the one who decides Dominique Strauss-Kahn's ultimate reward or worth, I still don't have to vote for him to run my country.

That's not puritanism. It's human wisdom.

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