Dear Aunt Sophie,
I can’t believe what’s happened to me. I had a bright
political future. I had a squeaky-clean image - very important because I used
to be a lawyer and you know what people think of lawyers. I still look like a
poster boy for the Eagle Scouts and I can’t begin to calculate how much I’ve
spent maintaining that look. I was a credible candidate for the presidential
nomination. And now it’s all blown up in my face.
I had an affair and lied to the press about it. Wouldn’t
you? I’ve always made it a point to be 99% truthful but it seems that’s not
good enough. I did tell my wife the truth, though.
Oh. Yes, I’m married. And my wife has cancer. Now do you see
the nature of my problem?
Anyway, the affair ended a couple of years ago. Cross my
heart. But recently when I went to a hotel to meet the lady – just to talk,
mind you – one of the supermarket tabloids was watching and they’ve forced my
hand. I’ve had to admit to it publicly. I always felt it was nobody’s business.
My wife was OK with it. Well, not really. She was pretty mad. I guess you could
say furious. But we worked through it and she was very understanding. After
all, you can imagine what cancer does to your sex life. Besides, I made sure
not to begin the affair until her cancer was in remission. So it’s not as if
I’d fallen in love with someone else and wanted to leave her. I’d never do
anything like that. I love my wife. Why would I leave her for someone I didn’t
I’m not the first man in public life who’s ever had an
affair. But for a man with my image…it really smarts when people call you a
hypocrite. I am not a hypocrite. I swear - during the whole (short) time I was
seeing this lady (whom I do not love) I was not running around saying “I am not
having sex with that woman.” So I am definitely not a hypocrite. Perhaps you’ll
think that’s too fine a distinction but any of my colleagues in liability law
can tell you there’s a lot of money in nuances.
No matter what I do somebody uses the word hypocrite. If I get
an expensive haircut I’m not for the working man (as if I didn’t tip my
barber!). If I fly instead of driving, my commitment to the environment is
called into question. It just so happens I’m one of the most environmentally
conscious people in the world. But I do have a big house which, I daresay, I air-condition.
And yes, sometimes I don’t turn off the lights when I leave the room. I’ll bet
you have air conditioning and I’ll bet there are times when you leave the
lights on, too. But does that make you a hypocrite? Well, it doesn’t make me
one, either. Besides, I buy energy credits.
I like political life. It’s a lot easier than law and I’m
not ready to give it up. How can I salvage my reputation?
Not a Hypocrite
It would never occur to me to think of you as an
untrustworthy, hypocritical cad. After all, skulking around hotels with a woman
not your wife is hardly unheard of among elected officials. It’s not as if
you’d been caught lookin’ for love in the airport john or at a highway rest
stop. And I’ll bet you’ve never not had sex in the Oval Office.
An affair is only hypocritical if you don’t get permission
first. You did say “May I”, didn’t you? Whether something is hypocritical
depends on whether or not you violated the terms of your agreement. If your
wedding vows didn’t differ significantly from the usual formula politicians
recite at their nuptials - “I promise to
take thee for richer or for poorer in sickness and in health until thou
contract cancer, in which case all bets are off if you go into remission. I
further promise not to fall in love with the other woman, and I reserve the
right to deceive her about my feelings should I want to keep her on call.”
- you have nothing to be ashamed of.
A public reading of what you actually promised at the altar
would go a long way toward setting the record straight. I’ll bet someone - maybe
your minister - still has a copy. Or it might be in a chest in your climate-controlled
attic along with your wife’s wedding dress. If you can’t find a copy, maybe one
of your wedding guests would swear to what you promised that day. And if you
can’t find someone who actually heard you utter those words it shouldn’t be too
hard for an experienced attorney to locate someone who, for a fee, would be
willing to say he did. You really should try because otherwise people might
think you break your promises, a shocking trait in a politician.
You’re lucky this hit during the Olympics. While America is down
with medal fever take the wife out to dinner. Find a modest place within
walking distance of your manor, someplace where they serve locally-grown
organic fare in the romantic glow of fluorescent table-lanterns. Converse
quietly but make sure the people at the next table can hear when you tell her you
love her so much you’d marry her all over again - if she’d promise not to get
Good luck and God bless.