Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Power of Recklessness

A high school classmate's Facebook status read simply, "Arnold You are a jackass."

That could have beautifully summed up any sentiment anyone outside the Schwarzenegger-Shriver family is allowed to have. This morning I made the mistake of reading an AP account of the story. I also dipped into an NPR analysis of politicians and affairs, which was disappointingly cliched. I never ever want to hear another news analyst describe power as an aphrodisiac.

It's about power, all right, but it's also about recklessness. Ahnold is in the same club as John Edwards, Tiger Woods, Hugh Grant and possibly IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kohn. Recklessness usually describes someone who's completely out of control. Perhaps the only thing out of these guys' control is their sex drives. They were willing to risk everything, even their self-respect, on sex. It's possible these guys get off on being naughty boys, and their wickedness is even more scintillating because they get away with it for so long, maybe even forever. Getting away with it feeds their sense of their power and reinforces the idea that they're a law unto themselves. That they're able to compel the silence of those who know about it is another sign of their power.

As someone who has had my fair share of doubt and pain, it's hard for me to imagine that these guys didn't occasionally suffer through sleepless nights, wondering what would happen when their covers blew. They had to have known that their wives or girlfriends, and the public who thinks they know them, were not going to take kindly to betrayal of this magnitude. They must have thought they could control it forever.

I almost wish they had. The suffering this has created for everyone involved is unspeakable. I'm thinking particularly of the son Schwarzenegger bore with a staff member. All of Arnold's money and power can't buy that boy the trust of his parents.

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