Every once in a while, we’re told (and often by scientists) that we must indulge the darker angels of our nature. We can’t help it. (Oh, and whenever we say “it,” we really mean “sex” but want to appear coy.)

Well, this time, apparently it’s for our own good.

Time magazine recently posted an article about “powerful” men and why they want sex as much as they do. Here are excepts from that story:

>>Sex, Lies, Arrogance: What Makes Powerful Men Behave Badly?

Shifting Standards

By now social commentators have the explanations on auto-save: We know that powerful men can be powerfully reckless, particularly when … they stand at the brink of their grandest achievement. They tend to be risk takers or at least assess risk differently — as do narcissists who come to believe that ordinary rules don’t apply. They are often surrounded by enablers with a personal or political interest in protecting them to the point of covering up their follies, indiscretions and crimes. A study set to be published in Psychological Science found that the higher men — or women — rose in a business hierarchy, the more likely they were to consider or commit adultery. With power comes both opportunity and confidence, the authors argue, and with confidence comes a sense of sexual entitlement. If fame and power make sex more constantly available, the evolutionary biologists explain, it may weaken the mechanisms of self-restraint and erode the layers of socialization that we impose on teenage boys and hope they eventually internalize.

“When men have more opportunity, they tend to act on that opportunity,” says psychologist Mark Held, a private practitioner in the Denver area who specializes in male sexuality and the problems of overachievers. “The challenge becomes developing ways to control the impulses so you don’t get yourself into self-defeating situations.”

Nature matters, but so does nurture. Members of royal families are born into a world of indulgence and entitlement, and the princelings who grow up that way may never have to develop any discipline. Athletes often start life at the opposite end of the wealth-and-prestige spectrum, but as soon as they exhibit an unusual talent for swinging a bat or sinking a free throw, often early in adolescence, they may become a kind of local royalty and find that the rules have been suspended for them. They are waved through school and into the pros, and bad behavior is overlooked or covered up. Any skills they may have been developing for self-control or self-denial quickly deteriorate.

But what of reason, of basic survival instincts? Enter politics and you enter the glass house; there are no secrets and no places to hide. One of the temporarily persuasive defenses of Bill Clinton when he faced charges of carrying on with the intern delivering the pizza was that this savvy Rhodes scholar could not possibly be so foolish as to imagine that anything in the White House goes unnoticed, unrecorded or unrepeated. When John Edwards‘ affair and love child with his videographer — the very woman in charge of documenting his career — became known, Democrats were confounded that he had ever imagined he could run for office again.

As for Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s latest revelation, it was agony to imagine what must have run through Maria Shriver‘s head when she discovered the truth. Here she was, daughter of a great political dynasty with its own zipper issues, who had drawn on her feminist capital to save her husband’s career at a crucial moment in his gubernatorial campaign. In 2003, more than a dozen women accused him of harassing and groping them through the years, including on the set of his film Predator. Shriver testified to his character in words that voters believed: “You can listen to all the negativity, and you can listen to people who have never met Arnold, who met him for five seconds 30 years ago,” she said. “Or you can listen to me.”

Now it emerges that even as she was defending his honor, he was deceiving both her and the voters. Confronted by the Los Angeles Times, he admitted that all along he had been supporting the child he had with an employee more than a decade ago. That finally explained why, back in January, Shriver moved out of the house.

Rise and Risk

Anne Sinclair, on the other hand, is standing by her man. “I do not believe for one second the accusations brought against my husband,” she said. “I have no doubt his innocence will be established.” But he has not made her faith in him come easy. Through his years as a top economics professor, Finance Minister and Socialist superstar, not to mention three marriages, Dominique Strauss-Kahn acquired the reputation of a serial seducer. French newspapers reported that Nicolas Sarkozy had warned him, upon his taking the IMF job in 2007, to “avoid taking the elevator alone with interns. France cannot permit a scandal.”

A year after taking the job, in a very public scandal, Strauss-Kahn was rebuked by the IMF for “a serious error of judgment” for his affair with Piroska Nagy, a Hungarian-born economist who worked for him. He was not charged with abusing his position, but he apologized publicly and in an e-mail to IMF staff. She warned at the time that he had put her in an impossible position, fearful of the fallout if she were to resist his advances. That followed even-more-serious yet undisclosed allegations from a young journalist named Tristane Banon, now 31, the goddaughter of DSK’s second wife. She claims that when she came to interview DSK in 2002, the encounter turned into a violent attack. “We ended up fighting, since I clearly said, ‘No, no,’ ” she said in a TV interview five years later. “It was more than a couple of slaps. I kicked him. He undid my bra, tried to remove my jeans … It finished very badly.” As soon as she fled, she said, he sent her a text: “So, are you scared of me?”

She didn’t press charges, in part because her mother, Anne Mansouret, a local Socialist official, talked her out of it. Other women with similar experiences say they were afraid that challenging a man so powerful in a culture so tolerant would bring them only ridicule and pain. Paris lawyer Emmanuel Pierrat recalls a young woman who told him of a violent encounter with Strauss-Kahn. “She wanted to know whether I thought what I heard would form the basis for a solid legal case,” Pierrat says. “I told her I did.” In the end she decided to drop the complaint, fearing the media circus, the very good chance she’d be accused of being a liar or worse. “In addition to my client, I also have a personal friend who came to me and described an unwanted, forceful sexual advance by Strauss-Kahn that she was forced to literally fight off,” Pierrat says. “They’re all essentially the same account, the same kind of behavior, with only the places changed.” Yet once again, no charges were ever filed, and Strauss-Kahn was never investigated for any misconduct.

Who’s Puritanical Now?

To those critics who were quick to accuse the U.S. of a reflexive Anglo-Saxon puritanism: it is well past time to retire that charge. Americans have a long history of electing and venerating the morally compromised, whether Thomas Jefferson, who is thought to have fathered children by a slave, or John F. Kennedy, with hot-and-cold-running girlfriends, including the one he reputedly shared with a Mob boss. There was, to be sure, a period of awkward adjustment in the 1990s, when the shadow world of rumored indiscretions found a public home on cable TV and in the nascent blogosphere; once Matt Drudge arrived, there would be no looking the other way, and it was no fun spending months on end watching a President lie with great conviction about his sex life.

But that was not the end of the story. Bill Clinton left office with a more than 60% approval rating. In 2008, neither John McCain nor Rudy Giuliani considered a gothic personal past disqualifying. Senator David Vitter was re-elected in a landslide last year despite having shown up in the phone records of the D.C. Madam. And now Gingrich is back, with third wife Callista by his side — a better man, he argues, for the soul-searching journey prompted by his past mistakes. There is no privacy anymore, nor an expectation of it, and Americans may seem all too eager to catch the high and mighty in the act — but almost always with the tacit understanding that there will be a second act, and a third. What cultural DNA remains from those first Puritan forays onto American soil may be our love of a fresh start. So the tales of half-naked Congressmen posting personal ads on Craigslist or a governor pretending to walk the Appalachian Trail while actually rendezvousing with his mistress just fold into the great pageant of sin and redemption that is American politics and American life. If Tiger Woods is having trouble rehabilitating himself in the eyes of the public, it’s not because of his appetite for escorts. It’s because of the pathetic state of his golf game.

What matters is not prudishness — we’ve left that far behind — but prudence, a sense that public figures should be discouraged from destroying themselves and their families, even if we gawk at the results when they do. And principle: that power is a privilege not to be abused. The cases that involve a lawmaker chasing pages around the cloakroom or a boss cornering a junior employee or a professor pressuring a student for sex all deserve to be taken seriously. And in cases that involve actual violence, they need to be treated like the crimes they are.<<

I don’t know–this just smacks of “boys will be boys” kind of reasoning. We know we can be better than our lower impulses. To me, the question is, Will we?

This is the only song that fits this subject to me:

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