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06.24.09

Time for a Male Anti-Sex Pill

In the wake of the Sanford scandal, the only hope for American public life not becoming an endlessly embarrassing comic opera now lies with Big Pharma. The nation needs a new Manhattan Project—and this one should have bipartisan support.

Plus, read more Daily Beast contributors' reactions to Mark Sanford's flameout.

The most practical idea I recall hearing during the whole sordid Monica Lewinsky scandal came from Warren Beatty. Why couldn’t Clinton have taken some pill, Beatty mused, according to a mutual friend, so that this whole arena of human activity would have been of no interest to him, at least while he was in office?

Rush research on a pill that zaps the male sex drive while leaving the other seemingly testosterone-related aspects of a man’s charms intact is now an urgent national priority.

At the time, I thought it was pithy. Now I realize it’s the next moonshot for the pharmaceutical industry. Which brings me to Mark Sanford’s legacy for health-care reform.

I don’t know about you, but Sanford feels like the last straw. I can’t stomach hearing another alpha male pol who just days earlier was offering boring soliloquies on Social Security or the economy suddenly moaning softly about the “healing” or “forgiveness” “process” on which they’re embarking. It’s riveting and repellant at the same time. There’s only so much self-parody a culture can take before we’re swallowed up by our own ridiculousness.

A Manhattan Project to develop the sexual disinterest pill for men (call it the anti-Viagra) should have bipartisan support, because it’s not obvious in advance who would benefit most from the end of these implosions. For every John Edwards or Eliot Spitzer, there’s a John Ensign or Mark Sanford.

I know the drugmakers feel like they’ve already done their civic duty this week, what with coughing up $80 billion over 10 years to help pay for health reform. But health costs will only kill us in the long run. Rush research on a pill that zaps the male sex drive while leaving the other seemingly testosterone-related aspects of a man’s charms intact is now an urgent national priority. Since it’s obviously too late to revive any sense of discretion, the only hope for American public life not becoming an endlessly embarrassing comic opera now lies with Big Pharma.

At dinner Tuesday night, when my wife and I were discussing the likely enough denouement to The Sanford Disappearance, our 12-year-old daughter asked, “How come all male politicians cheat on their wives?”

Her wiser 15-year-old older cousin replied, “It’s not just politicians—they’re just the ones that get in the news.”

With modern medicine, we have the power to end this premature loss of innocence. And the beauty part is it only requires men to give up seven or so minutes of pleasure on rare occasions—occasions around which so many seem impelled to organize their lives, and around which empires (or at least governorships) rise and fall.

Matt Miller is a management consultant, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and the host of public radio’s popular political week-in-review, Left, Right & Center. His new book is The Tyranny of Dead Ideas.