Do scumbags and politicians share the same DNA?

Former California Governor and Mr Universe Arnold Schwarzenegger on his most recent book tour.

Over the weekend, while perusing the Boston Globe, I happened upon an article with a one-line reference to the soon-to-be-released movie Knife Fight, described by the columnist Joanna Weiss as “a send-up of political scandals.” In effect, the arresting reference intriguingly implied there was hardly any difference in the morphology of crooks and politicians!
I pondered the assertion for a while before moving on to the rest of the article. Legendary names popped into my head: Bonnie and Clyde, John Dillinger, Jessie James, Billy the Kid—all notorious bank robbers, all unconscionable killers. And yet they were loved, protected, afforded shelter and sustenance by otherwise law-abiding citizens throughout the so-called Wild West, including government officials.
The cited criminals never made it into politics, this is true. But who’s to say they couldn’t have, and quite successfully, with the smallest effort? They were especially attractive to the opposite sex. Witnesses to their escapades often delighted in describing them to news reporters and detectives as charming and generous and witty. No surprise that Hollywood had produced several blockbuster movies centered on their exploits, real and exaggerated, with such leading screen idols as Warren Beatty, Brad Pitt, Mark Harmon and Johnny Depp in the leading roles.
Something tells me the above notorious bandits might easily have been elected city mayors and congressmen, had they turned their criminal minds to the political arena. They certainly had everything it takes to impress voters, including sweet talk and campaign finance!
Other names came to mind. These had never robbed banks. At any rate, not at gunpoint. But that didn’t mean they weren’t burglars and robbers, albeit armed only with ballpoints or computers. No need to name the long list of top-tier officials sentenced to imprisonment for breaking into the Watergate headquarters of the National Democratic Party in the time of Richard Nixon. Then there were the powerful congressmen who had charmed their male and female staff out of their pants and little blue dresses, or had taken bribe money and expensive vacations paid for by lobbyists.
Closer to home we’ve had the unforgettable UFO enthusiast and womanizer Eric Gairy and others dead and alive that I dare not identify for multiple reasons, not least of them being their peculiar penchant for using state trappings as weapons against citizen-critics. Suffice it to say they know who they are, as well you do, dear reader!
But back to that earlier cited Joanna Weiss article. Actually it had less to do with Knife Fight than with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s latest book Total Recall, wherein the former governor of California, reportedly in return for several million dollars, fesses up to his having fathered a child with his family’s live-in maid—some 14 years after the fact!
Writes Weiss, referencing the hardly remorseful confession: “Arnold’s ambition has always been a part of his appeal—what makes him, for all of his other worldly qualities, also seem universal. In the book he compares himself with his wife’s grandfather, Joe Kennedy Sr.: the drive to succeed, followed by the accumulation of great wealth, followed by the wielding of great power. He also offhandedly mention’s Kennedy’s affair with Gloria Swanson, but doesn’t linger on the commonalities.” Neither does he hint at the sharing of Marylyn Monroe by Jack Kennedy and his younger brother Robert!
Additionally, Weiss notes: “When it comes to our long national history of philandering politicians, the prevailing narrative seems to focus on the guy who gets corrupted after the rise. Once a man reaches a level of power and celebrity, the temptations increase, and become impossible to resist. But maybe the opposite is true: that great ambition and entitlement are two sides of the same coin, and the striving personality is also the type to take what he wants along the way. This is the premise of Knife Fight: that what makes a man a great politician and a personal dirt bag are often the very same qualities!”
What, then, do we say of the politician who did not become corrupt “after the rise?” What if he or she had always been corrupt, had always been an aided and abetted philanderer and floozy? Now here’s something about which we might teach foreign reporters such as Joanna Weiss a whole lot more than they may be capable of imagining—even with their own country’s “long national history of philandering politicians!”
After all, there is much evidence to suggest that on this Rock of Sages we consider corruption and philandering in office we kolcha. And “is so we like it!”

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