Body Politics

There may be strange bedfellows in Washington these days, but no stranger than anywhere else.

I was lunching with politicians in Washington recently when somebody asked—apropos of the sensationalized “sex scandals” preoccupying the media, the governed, and certainly the quaking pro-pols themselves—why only Democrats had been discovered in the exercise of carnal freedoms. While I attempted to frame a response touching on the ideological, the answer came: “Well, there’s no fun in getting a little piece of elephant.”

Amidst the laughter, someone told of a new “campaign button” being worn by particularly well-endowed congressional secretaries: “I type 74 words per minute.” There was much joshing about firing well-turned young lovelies and hiring old crones in corrective shoes. Someone repeated the joke circulating in Capitol Hill cloakrooms: “When they caught Wayne Hays and John Young they said I couldn’t sleep with my secretary. Then they caught Allan Howe and Joe Waggonner and told me I couldn’t sleep with prostitutes. That only leaves my wife—and she’s always got a headache.” More yuks and chortles as everyone ordered fresh drinks.

Well, now, I fancy to enjoy a joke as much as the next man. But under the cover of giggles more appropriate to errant schoolboys convened behind the barn, our statesmen—and others—are begging serious questions having more to do with honesty and individual freedom and the workaday realities than with mere rolls in the hay or a knee-jerk morality.

We of the media, particularly, may be guilty of sins even larger than those who attempt to joke away the subject. We are springing to our microphones and typewriters to tell of hot tails—pun definitely intended—on the Potomac as though Antony and Cleopatra spent their time playing backgammon when Octavia and Ptolemy Dionysus happened not to be looking. We tell it so straight-faced you’d think our jaws were numbed by novocaine, even though our cheeks are so full of tongue we’re in danger of strangling.

Politicians, including Republicans, have been running carnal fevers outside their home beds since the first hairy tribe elected a leader on about the 103 rd ballot in some lightless, airless cave. So have members of the media, not to mention doctors, lawyers, plumbers, housewives, carpenters, feminists, and you name it. Even such a pious parson as Rev. Billy James Hargis, the Oklahoma pulpit pounder, had occasion a few months ago to plead that the Devil made him do it. The sad thing is that poor ol’ Billy James probably believes that, when all he was doing is what comes naturally.

The sex drive is among our more basic instincts, even ranking ahead of the need for Coca-Cola or peanut butter. If nature had not so willed, no species would survive. We simply would be too indifferent to procreate and would bumble around eating grass or drilling oil wells or joining the Jaycees past the point of no return. Sex feels so good because its primary function in nature’s order is to perpetuate not only the beautiful but also the ugly, and that’s why rattlesnakes and giant turtles and sand crabs and fat congressmen get that wonderful urge the same as peacocks and cuddly pussycats and beautiful blondes and handsome dudes like me.

Nature knew it must bribe us with an overwhelming instinct to make sexual music together so the earth would not remain a lifeless rock. Whether you believe that evolution brought light in its timeless and tireless work, or that God in His earliest effort said, “Let there be light,” something brought light long before the Pedernales Electric Co-op or West Texas Utilities Company. With light came heat, without which no life might exist. In time the great hot lump of earth cooled, and the moisture in its atmosphere fell as rain, and water gathered and pooled, and the winds came and helped the rain wear away the cold stone. This formed thin coatings of soil, which eventually toddled its way downhill into the water. There the sun kissed this new mixture toward the end of bringing forth original life: microscopic, tiny, jellylike floating cells. These linked together and multiplied themselves and grew the instinct to keep on doing it.

The surface waters began to get overcrowded, and just floating around like little bits of jelly became boring. So some of these cells went off and decided to become fishes and underwater plants. Then the pioneers of those bold groups got washed up on the shore and lay around in the sunshine and opted to turn into snakes and dinosaurs and weird-looking clumsy birds. Finally, those who got tired of living under rocks and such and who wanted to cuddle, decided to turn into warm-blooded mammals. The minute that decision was made, it was inevitable that one day we’d have Miami Beach and massage parlors, and that one day Wayne Hays could not keep his hands off Elizabeth Ray, even if it meant paying her out of tax funds.

Now, the point is that no matter what these original little cells decided to become, they fought against great odds. They had to overcome Ice Ages and Stone Ages and the big ’uns always trying to eat the little ’uns. They caught chills and fevers and everything but city buses. It rained on ’em and hailed on ’em and things growled at ’em in the dark. They had to grow their own gills or wings or whatever. All this, now, with all manner of ugly species thrashing about making faces and otherwise threatening them. Yet, no matter how howling or hairy were the enemies in pursuit, and no matter if nature’s creatures had to creep or crawl or fly away from danger, enough of each species paused to get it on sexually that just about everything but the dumbass dinosaur survived. Against such irrepressible instincts, what’s a poor politician gonna do?

Things worked swimmingly well until Man came along to superimpose “civilization” on nature’s order. Until Man decided to govern sexual conduct, a baboon or a turtle (within the confines of certain loose processes of natural selection) could pretty much kiss and cuddle who

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