Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Solution: Elect a Bachelor Playboy!

This current controversy over New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer getting caught in a prostitution sting really makes me shake my head in wonder. To be honest, I'm not particularly troubled by Gov. Spitzer being caught in an extramarital tryst with a prostitute - that's a matter that should be solely between he and his wife, and I don't think it's fair for we the public to pass judgment. The only relevant aspect to this situation, as far as I'm concerned, is that Gov. Spitzer had set himself up as a crusader against corruption, which included trying to wipe out prostitution from the state of New York. But in a way, who can blame the guy for hypocritically creating this image of himself as a staunch defender of "Family Values" by fighting that which is perceived to threaten those values? I believe that the root of this problem really is the overriding conservative and puritanical mindset that still has a stronghold on the majority of Americans, and that they must shoulder some of the blame for this whole sad downfall of Eliot Spitzer.

You see, it occurs to me that Americans have always insisted that their elected officials at both the state and federal level must meet such silly conditions of electability as being both married and having children. This is especially true of the office of President of the United States. Perhaps there have been one or more single Presidents throughout history, but in my lifetime this pre-set condition of married men with families has been a rule without exception. It seems to me that you Americans would never allow a single man (or woman) to attain that office, though perhaps you should. Because, by insisting that Presidents and Governors always be good, loyal family men, you hold them to such high moral standards that you are often blind to the legitimate work they do in running their governments.

Which brings me to our much different situation here in Canada. Back in 1968 we elected Liberal leader, Pierre Trudeau as our Prime Minister. I think most Canadians, whether they loved him or hated him, would agree that he was our most famous and perhaps most notable Prime Minister. I can say from having lived through those years of "Trudeaumania", that it was indeed an exciting time to be a Canadian, as Trudeau, more than any other PM before or since, really put us on the world map. Pierre Trudeau was a unique man: He was a single and swinging bachelor when first elected, who would date the likes of Barbra Streisand in his first several years as PM. With his fashion sense, wearing mod ascots and with an often present rose in his suit lapel, he was a stylish and dashing fellow who also was very much his own man politically, never kowtowing to other political leaders. Nixon hated him apparently, and when Trudeau was informed that Nixon had referred to him as "That asshole", Trudeau merely shrugged and replied, "I've been called worse things by better people".

Though Trudeau did marry eventually, it was to Margaret Sinclair, a 22 year old "Flower child" who was thirty years younger than him. The marriage produced three sons, two of whom were born on successive Christmas Days no less. The marriage didn't last, however, and the two separated and divorced after Margaret went off to famously party with The Rolling Stones in New York! So we once again had a single Prime Minister, but I guess we liked the job he was doing for Canada because we kept him in office from 1968 to 1984, with just a brief retirement in 1979, having been voted out then re-elected after a disappointing Conservative Government under Joe Clark that lasted only nine months. In the years following his divorce, our Trudeau was seen on the town with the likes of classical guitarist Liona Boyd, Margot Kidder, and even a then twentysomething Kim Cattrall. So you see, we Canadians rather liked the rakish, swinging playboy we'd elected, and were not going to hold him to some impossibly high moral standard. As Trudeau himself famously said as Justice Minister before being elected PM, in regard to Canada's wise decision to decriminalize homosexuality in the mid-60's, "We take the position that there is no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation."

And so it should be in America too. So long as you maintain that puritanical mindset and obsession with all your elected officials remaining icons of "Family Values", then you are going to continue to see these tragic downfalls of otherwise competent political leaders. As for Canadian politics, I'd gladly take another swinging single playboy Prime Minister like Trudeau anyday!