Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Sally Quinn Drops a Daisy Cutter

Rogers Cadenhead posts a fine piece on Sally Quinn's revelation of alleged sexual assault by late Republican senator John Tower. Quinn writes that "Tower, who was a friend of my father, had attempted to sexually assault me when I was 18 and a college freshman. Embarrassed and ashamed, I had kept this story a closely guarded secret for years." Rogers digs deeper:

Tower, who died in a 1991 plane crash, had a reputation as a drunken womanizer that helped defeat his nomination by the first President Bush to be Defense Secretary -- the first Cabinet choice rejected by the Senate in 30 years.

Tower's never been accused of attempted rape before, based on my search of news accounts. When his treatment of women was scrutinized during the 1989 confirmation process, the public only heard about Benny Hill-style shenanigans like chasing a secretary around a desk. In 1998, Washington Times columnist Suzanne Fields even wrote that he was rejected "because he was seen putting a hand on the knee of a woman under the table at a restaurant."

And I love this bit:

The Senate has had its share of notorious horndogs in recent decades, including Bob Packwood, Strom Thurmond, Gary Hart, and Ted Kennedy. Tower once said of Thurmond, imagining his future funeral, "they'll have to beat his pecker down with a baseball bat to close the coffin lid."

I'm not a fan of decades-later revelations about improper behavior by dead people. Quinn may be entirely justified, but it's impossible to rebut such a claim now, and the ones who suffer are family members and friends, not the accused. And what does "attempted to sexually assault" mean, exactly? If what I gather from movies of the era is at all accurate, men of Tower's generation were a little more forceful about expressing their affections. That certainly doesn't make it OK to rape people, but misinterpreting sexual signals doesn't necessarily mean sexual assault. How many times have you seen a woman in a '40s, '50s or '60s film slap a man who tries to kiss her, only to melt into his arms seconds later when he forces her to do it anyway? Creepy as hell, but apparently common enough to make movies about it. Hell, even The Graduate communicated a clear message that if you just stalk your beloved long enough, she'll come around.

I never had a problem with Bill Clinton being a horndog, I just didn't like that he wasted our time, and especially his, with it. I would have been perfectly happy if he had brought in a sixpack of whores every Thursday and shipped them out Monday, I just didn't want to hear about him fondling civilians. JFK found a way to do it with class, why can't anyone else?

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