Sunday, August 28, 2005

Sexing up the election - Sydney Morning Herald - Radar

As appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald

Kissing babies is so five minutes ago. With this election, the accessory for the debonair pollie is not a screaming rugrat to plant a wet one on, but a secret sordid past, writes Georgia Lewis.

Why risk catching a day-care centre cold when you can tell the world how you kissed someone other than your wife instead?

The member for Parramatta, Ross Cameron, apparently tired of the hypocrisy of his Mr Family Values persona, thought confession might be good for the soul - and the poll - and admitted to an affair with "an exotic solicitor". Whether the voters are as forgiving as his wife remains to be seen, but maybe he thought he'd catch some Bill Clinton-style charisma as a result. Like the revelations of former prime minister John Major's affair in Britain, it does make one look at a seemingly boring guy in a new light.

Mark Latham copped a mouthful from his former wife about what a terrible husband he was. There was tittle-tat about whether the relationships with his first and second wives overlapped and others came out of the woodwork with claims about a raunchy buck's night video. Latham made a tearful plea to leave his family alone, but maybe wasn't that embarrassed when he said: "Can I give you the breaking news? I had an active love life before marriage."

There was a certain swagger about him as he went on to say that it'd be big news if he didn't have an active love life as a single man. Especially as John Howard lived at home until his wedding day at age 32. It was Latham's big chance to win the blokes' vote by coming across as a skirt-chasing legend, a connoisseur of western suburbs strippers and a wearer of breast-festooned barbecue aprons.

Whether this will work for Latham remains to be seen. It's just another one to add to their list of differences. Will Aussies go for a bloke who put it about a bit? Or will we stick with a bloke who probably tucks his singlet into his freshly ironed underpants?

Whatever the case, pollies' secret pasts at least make this already tedious campaign a little bit more interesting. If only we were allowed to enjoy the skeletons in the closet of female politicians in the same way, instead of seeing them burned at the stake a la Cheryl Kernot. Seriously, folks, we haven't evolved that much at all.

Greg Tingle's (that's me) published comments...

Sex sells...even in politics. The exception proves the rule, and the exception is this case in John Howard. Look at what happened in the California Recall election. When the Arnold "scandal" broke re : Oiu Magazine interview, his popularity went up. Some other sexy and entrepreneurial candidates also got a decent media guernsey including Abner Zurd (Lori Fontanes, film maker), Mary Carey (adult actor) and Larry Flint (adult industry entrepreneur). Arnold Schwarzenegger proved to be the complete package. It appears that Ronald Regan had the formula of charisma, acting, sexy charm and smarts, right all along, and others have followed.