Politics is now about sex. Not just scandalous sex, not just who is having what kind of sex, but what we think about the sex each politician is having, or not having. Sex (sex, not gender) in politics is as significant a subtext as race.
X. told me that, the whole night, all Maureen could talk about was which women Bill Clinton was sleeping with. Literally. "Do you think he's having an affair with B.? I think he is. But maybe they did and it's over now and he's moved onto someone else. Ya think? Maybe he's messing around with C. -- she seems more his type. I'd bet he'd love to have an affair with D., but I'm not sure she'd fool around with a married man." And on and on and on and on and ON in this vein. The whole night long. X tried to engage her on other topics. The world, after all, is full of a number of things: Books. Movies. Theater. Travel. Music. Food. And how about, not what Bill Clinton was doing with his penis, but what he was doing with his policies?
But alas, in spite of my friend's ministrations, he could not get the lady off Topic A.
The Hillary story is—and how could it not be?—largely a sexual one. This is not so much a sexist view as a sexualist view: What’s up here? What’s the unsaid saying? What’s the vibe? Although it’s not discussed in reputable commentary, it’s discussed by everyone else: so what exactly is the thing with Hillary and sex, with the consensus being that she simply must not have it (at least not with her husband; there are, on the other hand, the various conspiracy scenarios of whom else she might have had it with). It’s partly around this consensus view of her not having sex that people support her or resist her. She’s the special-interest candidate of older women—the post-sexual set. She’s resisted by others (including older women who don’t see themselves as part of the post-sexual set) who see her as either frigid or sexually shunned—they turn from her inhibitions and her pain.
Mannion sees the implications in Wolff's bizarre take on Obama's marriage too:
We want our politicians to represent us but that's far from saying we want them to stand in for us as surrogate selves. We hire them to do a job and our interest in them is in how well they do that job and that's why, to the consternation of the professional scolding class in the Media, we often don't care at all about their personal oddnesses.
Wolff, though, believes otherwise. Stranger than this, however, is Wolff's contention that while we're all imagining our political leaders naked we're creeped out by what we're imagining and what creeps us out is the fact that all these naked politicians are middle-aged.
Middle-agedness is in itself creepy. To be middle-aged is to be grotesque, repulsive, and ridiculous, and all of this creepiness, grotesquery, repulsiveness, and ridiculousness is, tautologically, both caused by middle-aged sexuality and makes sex in middle-age creepy, grotesque, repulsive, and ridiculous.
Which, according to Wolff, is why folks like Barack Obama so much. He's not middle-aged.
There is next to no speculation about Barack Obama’s sexual secrets. This is a seismic shift in racial subtext. The white men are the sexual reprobates and loose cannons (while Mitt and Hillary are just strange birds) and the black man the figure of robust middle-class family warmth.
Against these middle-aged people, he’s the naturalist, the credible and hopeful figure of a man who actually might be having sex with his smiling, energetic, and oomphy wife. (During the Spitzer affair, a friend of mine, a middle-aged white doctor and an active Obama supporter, curiously dropped into something like street talk to say Obama would never have the sex problems of middle-aged politicians, “because Michelle would whip his skinny ass.” A good man, in other words, is a controlled man.) He’s the only one in the entire field who doesn’t suggest sexual desperation. He represents our ideal of what a good liberal’s sex life ought to be.
A couple more paragraphs for Wolff to talk over with a professional, but note that, besides the strange racial and marital hang-ups, Wolff is saying that we don't have to worry about Obama making himself ridiculous or creepy in our dirty minds' eyes because he and his wife are young and good looking, as if no one with an "oomphy" spouse would ever be tempted to anything besides healthy, uncreepy, monogamous and conjugal sex.
Actually, look over his description of the Obama marriage and you'll see that he doesn't seem to think that even a young woman like Michelle Obama has a real interest in sex for the sake of pleasure or love---young women use sex to keep their men in line; older women, having lost all sexual desire, no longer have control over their men, and that's why those men make fools of themselves in the beds of younger women or men, which would seem to imply that Mrs Senator Larry Craig could have kept her husband out of airport bathrooms if she'd still been willing to get nasty with him.