2024-05-27 1:48 AM

Memorial Day 2024 Issue!

Maureen Dowd: Ways of the Wayward

FAIRLESS HILLS, Pa. — Just when I thought my head would explode from trying to figure out delegate math, I'm hit with call-girl math.

The arithmetic of procuring a prostitute who is both experienced and inspirational is even more complicated than the arithmetic of procuring a president who is both experienced and inspirational.

If you're a frugal governor who doesn't even like paying his political consultant bills, as opposed to an Arab sheik or a Vegas high roller, do you really need to shell out $4,300, plus minibar expenses, to a shell company for two hours with a shady lady? Aren't there cheaper hooker hookups on Craigslist? It makes you wonder how sharp Eliot Spitzer's pencil was on the state's fiscal discipline.

And how does it add up that Steamroller No. 1 suddenly morphs into Client No. 9, a nom d'amour with the ring of an overpriced Gucci cologne for men, giving untold thousands for untold years to a prostitution ring that has hourly rates based on rating its girls on a diamond scale of 1 to 7, with 7 being $3,100, and above 7 in a special club for $5,500 and up?

(A friend of mine, who knows the ways of the wayward, explained that the flesh-peddlers no doubt had a shell game as well as a shell company: "They say, 'You can have Jane. She's $1,000 an hour. Or, you can have Tiffany for $5,000 an hour.' The client doesn't know that Jane and Tiffany are the same girl. It's not like clients are going to compare notes. 'I paid $5,000 for Kristen. You only paid 1,000 for Chrissy?'").

If blood will have blood, as Shakespeare said in "Macbeth," power will have sex.

Some people took the saga of Eliot Ness in the boudoir, the old yarn of holier-than-thou caught in flagrante delicto, as a sign that a woman should be president.

"I would think the story about our esteemed governor is all the proof we need that we should have a woman as president," a woman I know said in an e-mail message.

Another woman e-mailed the reverse to a friend: "I hope this makes people think back to Monica Lewinsky. Can sex scandals be well timed?"

In modern times, you rarely see any men having to stand ashenly by their women.

But in the past, women got tangled up with sex and power. When Bette Davis played Elizabeth I, she was always sending her lovers off to the Tower of London when they made eyes at her pretty ladies-in-waiting. Catherine the Great was hardly known for her restraint. And there were Agrippina and Cleopatra, of course.

Hillary could not have been pleased to be in all the TV stand-by-your-man features, or to hear David Letterman's Spitzer Top Ten list, which included, "I thought Bill Clinton legalized this years ago."

Lyndon Johnson once observed that the two things that make politicians more stupid than anything else are sex and envy.

Even as Spitzer struggled with the sex story Tuesday, the Clinton campaign struggled with the envy story.

Geraldine Ferraro, who helped Walter Mondale lose 49 states in 1984, was clearly stung at what she considered Obama's easy rise to celebrity and electoral success. Last Friday, Ferraro, who is on Hillary's national finance committee, told The Daily Breeze, a newspaper in Torrance, Calif.: "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color), he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."

Obama acknowledged when he arrived in the Senate that he got more attention, his big book deal and his celebrity because he is not white. He was only the third black senator elected since Reconstruction.

But as he campaigned here Tuesday, he was outraged at Ferraro's comments. "They are divisive," he said. "I think anybody who understands the history of this country knows they are patently absurd."

Obama's campaign strategist, David Axelrod, said Ferraro should be removed from her campaign post, and that made her even more irritated. She told The Times on Tuesday night that she was "livid," adding: "Anytime you say anything to anybody about the Obama campaign, it immediately becomes a racist attack."

When Ferraro felt patronized by Mondale's staff, she suggested that his aides "should pretend every time they talk to me or even look at me that I'm a gray-haired Southern gentleman, a senator from Texas."

Hillary would never have to pretend to be a man to get aides to respect her, proving that she has moved past gender in a way Ferraro never did.

c.2008 New York Times News Service






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