India maybe a late starter when it comes to catching politicians with their pants down, elsewhere in the world it’s as common as eating ice cream. Here’s a look at some political figures who ruined their careers and legacy by “flying too close to the sun”
By Geeta Singh
“IF women would only realize their dignity and privilege, and utilise it for mankind, this world will certainly be better than now. But man has delighted in enslaving you and you have proved willing slaves … the slaves and the slave-holders have become one in the crime of
In 15th century Romania, a ruler by the name of Vlad was a byword for the cruelties he inflicted on his enemies. It is said that he used to impale them with hooks, spears and stakes. Thus was born the sobriquet of Vlad the Impaler
He’s got a 21st century British counterpart whom the festive local press has labeled Vaz the Impaler!
The name hardly fits the man. In fact, he’s rather portly, balding, with a reasonable paunch and addicted, it seems, to sober suits. Labour MP Keith Vaz is the man so named, but he’s no killer, rather he’s the height of respectability being a Labour party MP and chairman of the Home Affairs select committee. The impaler probably derives from his recent adventures with two East European male prostitutes caught on video by the Sunday Mirror. It was a shocking comedown for a man who, it was widely believed, would fall not because of his libido but his shady record in public life.
As the Independent described it: “… for 26 years in the corridors of power, (Vaz) was mired in near-scandals, actual scandals, watchdog scrutinies, leaks, accusations, investigations, complaints, even a suspension … he glided through it all in his serene, elaborately polite way… he seems to slide past trouble lubricated against failure.”
It earned Vaz the other sobriquet of “Teflon Vaz” and “Keith Vazeline.”
But the sex charge was impossible to paper over with the local press full of graphic reports about Vaz talking to the East European male prostitutes at his London home, giving his name as “Jim” and describing himself as a washing machine salesman. Sample this from The Daily Mail: “The married father of two casually discussed drugs, unprotected sex and money with the male escorts …
“As an MP, Mr Vaz took part in a safe sex campaign in his constituency last year. But in his flat, he apparently admitted he did not practise what he preached. “He told the pair to bring along poppers, a legal sex-enhancing substance which he defended in Parliament when it faced a ban.”
He even offered to pay for cocaine if it was brought to his flat.
Clearly, Vaz led a murky double life and the encounter with the two male prostitutes would not have been the first of its kind. There are also allegations that Vaz may have connived in breaching security as the man who paid for his male escorts, Daniel Dragusin, was granted a pass to the House of Lords. Dragusin, local reports said, left large portions of the application form blank.
Allegations about him receiving money and gifts and his evident wealth are now doing the rounds. Vaz is lying low for the moment, perhaps comforted by the fact that his wife says she will stand by him. But his political career is probably over, all because he couldn’t keep his pants on.
His sexual adventures with a young woman intern nearly cost him the presidency of the United States over 20 years ago. The worry is will Republican nominee for president Donald Trump, go hammer and tongs at Bill Clinton’s sexual indiscretions in the White House in order to torpedo Hillary’s chances? Trump did go public with some remarks three months ago: “There certainly were a lot of abuse of women, you look at whether it’s Monica Lewinsky or Paula Jones, or any of them, and that certainly will be fair game.”
Clinton’s sexual adventures with a young woman intern nearly cost him the presidency over 20 years ago. The worry is still Republican nominee for president Donal Trump, go hammer and tongs at Bill Clinton’s sexual indiscretions in order to torpedo Hillary’s chances?
But a recent book Crisis of Character by former secret service officer Gary Byrne who served in the White House during the Clinton years, could do more damage.
It has revived memories of 1998 when Monica Lewinsky exploded in America’s face. The American people got to know of the affair their president (then 51) had been having since the last three years with an intern 30 years younger. The affair was passionate, they were always looking for places in the White House where they could get together. “We wondered how he got any work done and joked that he would have been better at running a brothel in a red-light district than the White House,” Byrne wrote.
Lewinsky had his number – the ‘secret number’ that enabled her to dial his direct line without going through anyone. The number was one few people had.
In an interview to Time magazine in 1999, Lewinsky admitted their relationship was “definitely inappropriate. And the way he was flirting with me was inappropriate. So I think was the eye contact. And the way he looks at women he’s attracted to. He undresses you with his eyes.”
The affair ended in 1997 when a sexual harassment case filed by a former Clinton worker Paula Jones, got underway. Unfortunately for Lewinsky (and Clinton), she had confided all the details (nine sexual encounters) to a co-worker Linda Tripp, who secretly recorded every detail and handed them over to investigators.
When legal proceedings to impeach Clinton got underway, Lewinsky denied everything. But Tripp’s revelations exposed her lie. As for Clinton, after that infamous lie: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” he later admitted on nationwide television to “inappropriate intimate contact” with the intern.
Lewinsky went through a low phase, trying to keep away from the media and sought to rebuild her life. In 1999 she struck a deal with English journalist Andrew Morton to write her biography, Monica’s Story which was her version of the affair with Clinton. She made a reported $500,000 from the sales of the book plus another $1 million from an interview to television talk show host Barbara Walters. As for Clinton, if all goes well in November, he could piggyback on Hillary and return to the familiar environs of the White House. Whether he’s overcome his “woman problem” is not clear, there have been no public reports of further indiscretions.
Bunga Bunga Prime Minister
“I am the Jesus Christ of politics. I am a patient victim, I put up with everyone, I sacrifice myself for everyone.”
Nobody could ever accuse Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s former prime minister, of modesty. In office and out of it, he maintains a bombastic persona, is known to be incredibly vain and flaunts his $6 billion dollar business empire as perhaps, a ticket to do whatever he wants.
And he did. Berlusconi hit the headlines with his “bunga bunga” parties, a euphemism for bashes that he threw featuring young women in costumes disrobing themselves to the rapturous applause of guests (mostly men).
A cursory glance through Berlusconi’s record is mind boggling: The trials and allegations against him range from abuse of office to extortion, perjury, collusion with the criminal mafia, witness tampering and bribery (in addition to the sexual abuse charges).
His supporters say he is a much maligned man. Lawyer Annalisa Amicucci argues that Berlusconi has every right to hold whatever types of private parties he wants and “neither journalists nor magistrates should try to stop that.”
According to her, Berlusconi “gives gifts to women because he is generous, he is generous with everybody. Women adore him, including myself, for the man he is, for what he has achieved and does for our country. He does not need to pay for sex.”
But his long suffering second wife of many years had had enough, divorcing him in 2009 for “consorting with minors”. It wasn’t long before the law caught up with Berlusconi. He was hauled up on charges of having sexual relations with a 17 year old girl. In Italy, the age of consent is 14 but paying for sex with a woman below 18 years is underage prostitution punishable by three years in prison.
Berlusconi and the girl in question Karima El Mahroug have denied the allegations. But after his conviction last year in a case of bribery involving an Italian senator for which he was sentenced to three years in prison (sentence never served as the statute of limitations expired even before his appeal came up), Berlusconi has been under legal pressure.
As he says, “(I am the most) “legally persecuted man of all times, in the whole history of mankind, worldwide.”
A cursory glance through Berlusconi’s record is mind boggling: The trials and allegations against him range from abuse of office to extortion, perjury, collusion with the criminal mafia, witness tampering and bribery (in addition to the sexual abuse charges). But this man is unfazed: “I am, and not only in my own opinion, the best prime minister who could be found today. I believe there is no one in history to whom I should feel inferior. Quite the opposite.”
Reports say Berlusconi, 77, married a 28 year old showgirl Francesca Pascale in 2013, who is rumoured to be gay. The buzz is he wanted to escape further scrutiny about his personal life by the public and press. Clearly, as long as there is a Berlusconi, Bunga Bunga and all the rest will continue.
‘Lust trumping brains’
He’s a little over five feet five inches, bespectacled, slightly rotund and balding. Many in France say President Francois Hollande’s sex appeal is as low as his public opinion ratings. He’s described as “flanby” (after a wobbly dessert) and “pere” (granddaddy).
Holland’s relationship with Gayet is an odd one: they are never seen together in public, nor are there any official photographs of them together. She has not moved into the Elysee Palace and therefore France has no official first lady.
But something about Francois Hollande drew actress Julie Gayet to him, to the extent that her paramour would sneak out of the Elysee Palace at night, get on a moped and ride to a love nest nearby minus security.
The story goes that the presidential bodyguard brought croissants to the love nest in the morning. Why on earth would the president of a country behave like this? Psychiatrists say it’s about lust trumping brains. It’s also about youth.
According to the French celebrity tracking magazine Closer, Hollande’s affair with Gayet began in 2011 when he was well past middle age (around 56-57) and she would have been in her late thirties. The affair continued after he moved into the Elysee Palace the next year with his then “official” companion Valerie Trierweiler in her late 40s. They separated in 2014 after the affair became public knowledge. Mind you, before the women mentioned above there was Segolene Royal, his companion of 30 years with whom he has four children. Hollande appointed her minister for environment shortly after the relationship with Trierweiler ended.
But it’s important to note that Hollande is not an adulterer, because he never married. An article in the Spectator said: “That gives him, you’d think, a bit of leeway on the sexual front; the fact he’s never made any vows to anyone and so hasn’t broken any.”
On Twitter, British blogger Willard Foxton was even more cutting. “I can’t help but feel Segolene Royal, Valerie Trierweiler and Julie Gayet could do better than Hollande, who looks like a sweaty potato.’’ In fact, the relationship with Gayet is an odd one: they are never seen together in public, nor are there any official photographs of them together. She has not moved into the Elysee Palace and therefore France has no official first lady. This may have been Hollande’s doing: the word is he was so traumatized by the drama surrounding Trierweiler’s reported suicide attempt after their breakup, that he does not want any woman in the Elysee.
Gayet lifted some of the mystery about her relationship with Hollande in her biography L’Intermittente de L’Elysee released earlier this year. It carried text messages she had sent to Hollande after a holiday in the south of France. It quotes her saying ‘My boyfriend is a greedy eater and badly dressed.” The book did not say what attracted her to Hollande and what keeps them together. Others like journalist Anne Elisabeth Moutet, says Hollande’s success with women is no mystery. “It is the Woody Allen method: he makes them laugh and he listens to them.’’