Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sex, Lies, and Mayor Adams

Portland's newest mayor, Sam Adams, seems sure to become Portland's newest former mayor:

Adams admitted that he had a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old Oregon legislative intern in the summer of 2005, that he repeatedly lied about the relationship and asked the young man to lie to help him get elected mayor.

Adams and Beau Breedlove, now 21, initially said that they became friends when Breedlove sought Adams' advice on how to be gay in political life. In truth, Adams said, he and Breedlove expressed some romantic attraction to each other from the very beginning -- though he said they waited until a few weeks after Breedlove turned 18, the age of consent, to have sex. The "mentoring part of it" was largely a lie, Adams has said.
That he "repeatedly lied" indicates that he was repeatedly asked, and I have to wonder why that is. Why was Sam Adams repeatedly asked about this?

Under Oregon law, Sam Adams cannot legally marry anyone to whom he is sexually attracted, so this leaves him with just a few options: (a) engage in extra-marital sex; (b) be entirely celibate -- and of course, everyone would take one look at Sam Adams and rest easy knowing that life-long abstinence would come easily and naturally to such a hideous creature; or (c) enter a sham marriage with a woman, which would raise concerns over his troubling lack of candor about his sex life, and gawd knows we can't have a mayor with a troubling lack of candor about his or her sex life, the best proof of which is all the detailed knowledge that we Portlanders carry around about the sex lives of former mayors Potter, Katz, Clark, and all the rest -- certainly former mayor Ladd, about whose sexual exploits, well, don't get me started! We all know how it was back in the 1850s with Mayor Ladd, am I right!?

With his support dwindling rapidly, Mayor Adams is expected to resign soon. It's a shame.

If you're reading this, it's none of your goddamn business whether or with whom or the next mayor has sex, so long as consenting adults are involved. If you're not reading this, same goes for you.


Anonymous said...

Of course what he did is not technically wrong, but his lying about it does raise questions about what else he may be lying about and lengths he would go to to cover up a lie. It leaves him open to blackmail or other pressures that ultimately result in him not being an effective mayor.

For better or worse, this is the nature of the occupation he has chosen and he knows it. He did something very stupid and handed many people playing the same game ammunition to destroy him or at least make him much less effective in that role.

I am more angry with him than the system that would destroy him over something like this.


Brian Moon said...

Brilliant, Dale. Perfect. I had not considered the "gays can't marry" angle.

And to "Andrew", if that is, indeed, your real internet handle, how very brave of you to stick up for the lofty principle of "character" in our elected officials by posting an angry comment on someone else's blog.

It's only because of puritanical judgments about our elected officials' private lives that would cause them to lose political clout. If more people wouldn't judge harshly, then Sam Adams and others wouldn't have any reason to lie.

Sam Adams earned my vote last year on the basis of policy, and he is still my mayor.

Anonymous said...

Brian - my response was based on the system we have not some idealistic vision of what it should be. From that perspective, he did something very stupid and now he'll resign or at least be much less effective as mayor. If he would have just said "it's none of your business" this would not be an issue. That's what every politician should say to a question like that.

Also, while I may be too lazy to sign up for my very infrequent responses to this blog, I'm not anonymous to my friend Dale. And I happily voted for Sam Adams. And gay or straight has nothing to do with it. It's about being stupid.


Dale said...

Brian, Andrew: thanks for the comments.

YMMV, but I didn't see anything objectionable in Andrew's comment. I don't agree, but I thought it was totally in bounds.

As to the question at hand ...

Obviously, Adams knew what he was getting into by getting into politics. That's not in dispute. But I reject the validity of what is asked of him.

Gay men can't get married under law. To ask a gay man questions about his sex life is equivalent to asking a straight man about his sex life before he was married. And then to demand that the answers be true -- totally, completely true.

These are illegitimate questions. It is absurd to expect adult human beings to be scrupulously accurate and truthful about such things in this context -- between friends or between family, then we're on a different plane. But with the newspaper in the course of a mayoral campaign? Puleez.

To ask is to fish around for reasons to reject the person, and the fishing around is bound to succeed.

If the question is "did Adams have sex with an under-age person and thus break the law" -- and it does not seem to be the question here -- then there's something possibly worth following. But that gets also to the question of "statutory rape" versus the actual reality of 17-year-old males, which is another matter for another time ....

We're asking for lies and then being shocked, SHOCKED, when we get lies.

The point is, not all lies are consequential. And not all questions are valid.

Dale said...

Andrew, re: your second comment.

I agree this creates a lot of drama that no one needs. Definitely so!

I wish it could have been dismissed from the get-go with a mighty "none of your business!"

But I don't know the exact circumstances under which it became A Big Issue. Did he try saying "none of your beeswax, move on"? I honestly don't know.

I do know it's not always easy or even possible to get away with giving that answer. If specific charges are thrown around and you simply refuse to answer, that can be politically deadly.

Can't we all just get along?

Domestically Challenged said...

Dale, as usual, I completely agree with your views on this (type of) situation. Sam Adams had the potential to do great things for our fair city, it's an out right shame he will likely be kicked to the curb for something that has NOTHING to do with the job he was hired to accomplish. Idiots.

I can't help but wonder... what if Beau were a Betty?

Zoe said...

Wow, is your new mayor cute! No big mystery about why the serendipitously-named Beau Breedlove would fall for him, is there?

But to DC, I suspect that if a handsome 30-something mayor was found to have been lying about having sex with an 18-year-old intern, there'd have been hell to pay, too. Honestly, America's Puritan streak runs deep, and it applies to heterosexual sex as much as homosexual sex.

I have to agree with Andrew, lying about sex is stupid. On the other hand, politicians shouldn't be interrogated about their sex lives. They should be *able* to say "none of your goddamn business."

Honestly, I don't care if my mayor, senator, governor, or President is screwing around on his wife, unless I'm his wife.