Sex and Power in Washington

Sex and Power in Washington
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

I've seen few issues over which there was more confusion than the recently sprouted one of inappropriate sex in Washington—and certain related outposts as well. Lumped together in the furor are minor matters such as a bottom pinch (not that that's a nice thing to do) and allegations of far more serious forms of harassment. Also conjoined are the ostensible and the actual reasons for expelling a member of Congress over varying degrees of sexual aggression. A sorting out is in order—as is a grasp of reality.

Washington has all the ingredients for inappropriate sexual adventuring. For one thing, it's full of lonely people—in particular men disconnected from their families. We owe this to Newt Gingrich, who upon becoming Speaker of the House in 1995 told incoming Republican freshmen to leave their families back home so that the members could concentrate on their jobs in Washington. Washington is also full of ambitious people—young things (male and female both) setting out on what they hope is an ever-rising path to more important jobs, whether it is the lobbyist who sets his sights on becoming head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (I knew one who did, but he didn't make it), or the lowly congressional aide who longs to one day take the seat of the congressman or senator whom he or she is currently serving. Washington is the land of opportunity for sexual conquest, with members of Congress working late nights (yes, they often do) or traveling with aides on supposedly essential business. And, finally, it's a city stuffed with people who have power over others. 

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