When the Republican obsession with s-e-x emerged during the Clinton impeachment fiasco, Freudian analysts both amateur and professional sought to explain it.
Serial infidelities and perversions by some of the President's harshest foes in Congress, and the unnecessarily pornographic nature of the prosecutor Ken Starr's indictment document, spawned what has now become a small industry.
Back then we had House stonecasters regretting their "constiTOOshunal" responsibility to (tee-hoo, ha-ha, wink) probe deeply into these otherwise personal matters. And we had Starr writing into the indictment so much steamy detail of the Clinton-Lewinsky encounters that even a federal judge (appointed by Reagan) found it tawdry. One commentator at the time imagined Starr at home every night panting over his text with masturbatory ecstasy. After all, another noted, Freud himself once commented that "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."
But that was then and now we have people like Gingrich, Cain, Bachmann and Santorum actually running for president, cheered on by commentators like Limbaugh, O'Reilly and Drudge. The collective personal histories of this cast could fill an entire edition of a supermarket tabloid -- multimillion dollar settlements of sexual harassment litigation, youthful spousal indiscretions, non-denial ("I do NOT love sex with men") denials of homosexuality, religious "cures" of socially controversial sexual orientation, a paramour telling the press, "We had oral sex; he prefers (that) because then he can say, 'I never slept with her.'" On and on.
Limbaugh, that paragon of personal virtue, and Santorum, whose first act if elected President will be to repeal the 18th and 20th Centuries, take the cake for sexual obsession.
Surely no literate person alive today is ignorant of the great talk-radio blowhard's "slut" and "prostitute" rants against a Georgetown University student. (I think this stuff is actionable and I hope the young lady sues for gazillions in damages.) But when he asked her to videotape a sexual encounter and send it to him "so we can all watch," he descended into deviant voyeurism the Freudian analysts can run with for months.
And then there's St. Rick, the supremely Roman Catholic public figure who goes ex cathedra on s-e-x if you ask him the time of day. His public utterances prompted a commentator to write Sex Education 101 for Republicans, a pre-junior high curriculum proposal that was the most read item on the Common Dreams website last week. Another hot item was Charles M. Blow's New York Times post on Santorum's 2008 appearance at the Center for Religion and Public Life (repeal the First Amendment!) in Washington, DC.
Asked about his experiences regarding "religion and politics" when he was in the Senate, St. Rick went right to the core of the matter:
“It comes down to sex. That’s what it’s all about. It comes down to freedom, and it comes down to sex. If you have anything to do with any of the sexual issues, and if you are on the wrong side of being able to do all of the sexual freedoms you want, you are a bad guy. And you’re dangerous because you are going to limit my freedom in an area that’s the most central to me. And that’s the way it’s looked at.”
Rick was asked to respond to a columnist's comment that "Republicans want their payback for Watergate, for Bork, for Iran-contra, even for Woodstock. Like Kenneth Starr, the Republicans are attempting to repeal the 1960s.”
“Woodstock is the great American orgy. This is who the Democratic Party has become. They have become the party of Woodstock. They prey upon our most basic primal lusts, and that’s sex. And the whole abortion culture, it’s not about life. It’s about sexual freedom. That’s what it’s about. Homosexuality. It’s about sexual freedom. All of the things are about sexual freedom, and they hate to be called on them. They try to somehow or other tie this to the founding fathers’ vision of liberty, which is bizarre. It’s ridiculous. That’s at the core of why you are attacked.”
“Do you see any possibility for a party of Christian reform, or an influx of Christian ideas into this [Democratic] party?”
“What changed was the ’60s. What changed was sex. What changed was the social and cultural issues that have huge amounts of money because if you look — I haven’t seen numbers on this, but I’m sure it’s true — if you go socioeconomic scale, the higher the income, the more socially liberal you are. The more you know you can buy your way out of the problems that sexual libertinism (sic) causes you. You have an abortion, well, I have the money to take care of it. If I want to live an extravagant life and get diseases, I can. ... You can always take care of everything. If you have money, you can get away with things that if you’re poor you can’t.”
“You’re a liberal or a conservative in America if you think the ’60s were a good thing or not. If the ’60s was a good thing, you’re left. If you think it was a bad thing, you’re right. And the confusing thing for a lot of people that gets a lot of Americans is, when they think of the ’60s, they don’t think of just the sexual revolution. But somehow or other — and they’ve been very, very, clever at doing this — they’ve been able to link, I think absolutely incorrectly, the sexual revolution with civil rights.”
Chatting with a friend in Washington the other day, I mentioned some of this and he chuckled and said:
"Did you hear about the Republican presidential candidate who took a Rorschach inkblot test? The shrink showed him an image and asked, 'What do you see?' 'F--king,' he replied. Another image. 'F--king.' Next image, same answer. Next image, same answer. The shrink threw down his image cards and said, 'You're a pervert!'
"The Republican shouted back: 'Don't blame me! You're the one with the dirty pictures.'"