On the morning of Rudy Giuliani’s resignation from the New York Senate
race due to prostate cancer, the “Wall Street Journal” ran an editorial by
William Bennett calling for Rudy to drop out due to his extramarital
relationship with Judy Nathan. Despite Giuliani’s accomplishments as mayor
of New York City, which even Mr. Bennett acknowledges are “among the most
impressive governing achievements of modern times,” Giuliani, advised the
Virtue Czar, should hang a scarlet “A” around his neck and slouch off into
the sunset.

Bennett dismissed the real problem, Giuliani’s health, which happens to
be cancer, a mere blip on the radiology screen next to the more important
problem as Bennett sees it — searching out and destroying sexual sinners. I
could not help but compare Bennett’s uncharitable reaction to Giuliani’s
troubles to the announcement by Bennett’s other chosen pariahs, the Log
Cabin Republicans, who offered Giuliani heartfelt compassion.

After the Clinton uproar, one would have hoped that the sexual scandal
hounds would have finally had enough, that their appetite for sexual purges
would have finally been sated. But no. Who else in this country, I wondered,
besides William Bennett and a few social conservatives, and maybe Catherine
MacKinnon and an assorted feminist or two, could relish another such
episode?

Bennett, who is currently writing a book on marriage and the family,
believes that the Gary Hart brouhaha, in which the candidate was chased
through the streets like a common witch by citizens of Salem posing as
reporters, was a good thing. Hart, finally nabbed red-handed on a yacht
known as the Monkey Business, was forced to withdraw, “affirming an
important public standard,” says Bennett. Well, I can understand that. After
all, Hart was a Democrat.

But Rudy is a Republican, a member of Bennett’s own party, and one who
turned the worm-infested Big Apple back into a thriving metropolis, causing
one to wonder what “public standard” it is that Mr. Bennett would like to
affirm. That witch-hunts are high points in the cultural life of a nation?
That we consider hanging out with Judith Nathan more important than beating
back the mob? That we are arrogant and presumptuous enough to understand the
inner workings of the Giuliani-Hanover marriage? And that micro-managing
this marriage is more important than say, revitalizing Times Square or
civilizing the subways?

Does Mr. Bennett believe we should continue careening hell-bent down the
road of making ourselves into a nation of sexual hysterics? That we continue
to look upon sexual transgressions as a litmus test and the biggest
blackball gotcha game in town for presidential candidates, military officers
and CEOs? That we reaffirm a sexual standard that causes Supreme Court
nominees to have their garbage cans ransacked and their videotape rentals
scoped for pornography? That we elevate sexually questionable jokes to the
level of thought crimes that can destroy one’s career? I have a thesaurus,
but the only word I can come up with that describes America’s recent
preoccupation with sexual minutiae is “insane.” It’s not only that we remain
so focused on these witch-hunts, but that the penalty for any transgression
is so excessive.

I was horrified by the televised spectacle of a black man, Clarence
Thomas, working his entire life to attain a judgeship, reduced to lying on
the floor of his home in the fetal position, crying, due to the insanity of
his nomination process. Even assuming that Anita Hill, dragged out of her
private existence by the anointed politicos, told the truth and Thomas had,
in fact, told her a couple dirty jokes, is that enough to cancel out a
lifetime of work? To kill a career? Off with his head!

Shall we reaffirm the “public standard” that caused the first female
bomber pilot, Kelly Flinn, to have her career reduced to rubble because she
dated a man she thought was separated from his wife and then lied about it
to her commanding officer? This woman lied about an affair, she’ll lie about
anything, bellowed the Rush Limbaughs and Bill Bennetts. This woman
disobeyed orders, she’ll disobey them again, they gloated, as they
blackballed a woman from the “feminized” military. “What’s a woman doing
flying a B-52 bomber anyway?” roared Patrick Buchanan. This slutty loose
cannon, went the right-wing scuttlebutt, is liable to do anything. This nut
might drop a 20-megaton bomb on Chicago!

And so, Bill Bennett wants us to reaffirm a “public standard” that says
we are single-minded and simple-minded enough, yea stupid enough, to expunge
Rudy Giuliani from public life due to our disapproval of his marital
situation, possibly ceding the New York Senate race to a Hillary Clinton?

It seems almost preposterous now, but I remember a time, back in the days
before the puritanical right and the feminist left joined forces, before the
joint triumph of Catherine MacKinnon and William Bennett, before the sexual
juggernaut had given us sexual litmus tests and sexual harassment laws, when
America was so outrageously laissez faire that I could actually do something
as mundane as hiring chefs for our restaurant because they were the best
cook. There was a time in America, I will tell my grandchildren, when I
could hire someone without contemplating whether or not he was a Romeo, but
because he made the best soup. There was a short time in America, I will
tell my granddaughter, when women were free. I’ll tell her there was a time,
sometime between the Victorian era and the ’90s, when I could
enthusiastically hire a female bartender and not worry that she was so
delicate and offended that she might hear herself called “Honey” and bring
down the house.

Insane as it may seem, there was a time in America, I’ll say to my
grandchildren, when privacy existed, when people’s career accomplishments
were actually separated from their sexual lives, when you knew that your
heart surgeon was there because of his surgical skills rather than because
of the state of his marriage or on the basis of some jokes he told to some
nurses. Think of it. Suppose you go for heart surgery and get the guy whose
number four in line? Number one was eliminated due to an affirmative action
quota, two was a sexual harasser and three was an adulterer. The more litmus
tests, the less quality job performance, whether it’s heart surgery or
public service.

If lust shall be a litmus test, I’d like to ask Bill Bennett about the
other deadly sins. What about lack of charity, which Christ said was the
most important virtue? Or how about gluttony, pride and sloth? It’s fair, I
think, to ask William Bennett in the full regalia of his unbearable
smugness, if he thinks fat guys should be barred from publishing books.

Yes, it is time this overstuffed turkey be asked some serious questions
about the state of his own soul, and if he, with all that excessive girth,
should be still cluck, cluck, clucking about who should resign due to their
sins.

As for Rudy Giuliani, I don’t care if he’s too sexy for the slow lane,
too sexy for William Bennett or too sexy for the church guys. I don’t care
if he has a whole harem tucked away behind the pantry door. The only one who
needs to be concerned with that is Donna Hanover.

And speaking of the church guys setting sexual standards, didn’t the
original church guy, Jesus, do just that a long time ago? When an adulteress
was brought before him by an angry mob, didn’t he ask who among them would
like to cast the first stone? Well, Jesus, we finally have a volunteer! Bill
Bennett has just stepped up to the plate with a truckload of rocks.

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