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05.18.11

Arnold's Divorce Scandal: 7 Basic Tips for Horny Politicians

Feeling soiled by the news of Arnold Schwarzenegger's secret child? It’s time we accepted that politicians cheat—and offered some basic rules for avoiding total humiliation, from vasectomies to financial trails.

Feeling soiled by the news of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s secret child? It’s time we accepted that politicians cheat—and offered some basic rules for avoiding total humiliation, from vasectomies to financial trails. Plus, Maria Shriver reportedly hires a divorce lawyer and more updates.

Upon learning that Arnold and Maria were splitting, I had a reaction similar to when I heard Al and Tipper had called it quits: OK. Fair enough. After a quarter-century, they’d probably grown unbearably tired of each other’s bullshit.

It’s true that in Arnold’s case I assumed the marital baggage contained a heavy load of sexual chicanery. But I also assumed that Maria long ago understood what she was buying and had more or less made peace with her man’s widely rumored tendency to treat women like squeezy toys.

But then came the love child news, and all I could think was: What a fricking idiot.

Honestly. We’re talking about a man who is absurdly rich and famous, not to mention hitched to a celebrity princess from America’s premier political dynasty, and he doesn’t have the self-preservation instinct to take double—no, triple!—precautions when he starts diddling the help? Forget governor of California. This man is too dense to be night manager of the local Gas ’n Gulp.

The last dozen or so political and celebrity sex scandals have left me with a strange reservoir of cynicism mixed with astonishment: No longer am I remotely surprised when these masters of the universe cheat, but I continue to be amazed by the sloppy, self-destructive, often moronic manner in which they do so. Giving one’s phone number to a D.C. escort service? Trolling for action in the Minneapolis airport men’s room? Looking for love on Craigslist using your real name (and shirtless photo)? Hiring your mistress as a videographer for your presidential run, impregnating her, then claiming the child is the progeny of a political aide? Harvard B-School could spotlight any one of these as a case study in how not to conduct an extramarital affair.

(Here is where I’m required to put in the disclaimer about how not all politicians cheat. Not all cheaters are pigs. Not all political moralists are closeted sexual deviants. Yadda, yadda, yadda. I grant you all of this, and I maintain that it is entirely beside the point.)

Ordinarily in politics, a highly specialized, highly paid breed of consultant pops up to help aspirants master the trickier aspects of the job (media sit-downs, debates, policy speeches, maintaining one’s balance while bending double to smooch the backsides of donors…). Today’s scandal gurus, however, focus overwhelmingly on helping clients survive the fallout from a tryst that has already made Letterman’s Top 10 list. I say, Why wait? Clearly the time has come to stop hoping/praying/pretending that our public officials will stop behaving like horny adolescents and, instead, start strategizing ways to prevent their ingrained sluttiness from destroying friends and families, not to mention provoking the political eruptions that leave we the people feeling thoroughly soiled.

Looking back on some of the more colorful scandals of recent years, a handful of basic tips for inconstant pols leaps immediately to mind:

1. Stick with your own kind. Not to promote class warfare here, but, whenever possible, you should try to cat around with someone who has as much to lose—professionally, socially, or economically—as you do. This will dramatically reduce your chances of being blackmailed or otherwise exposed by your carnal co-conspirator.

One simple in-office procedure can ensure that a pol will never find himself struggling to explain to his wife why the housekeeper’s kid is the spitting image of the pol’s first-grade photo.

2. In the event you do get hit up for cash, do not ask your parents to pay off your lover’s family. This not only makes you look like a louse, it makes you look like a helpless, bed-wetting man-child.

3. For those who cannot resist the lure of prostitutes, avoid frequenting such expensive working girls that you leave a financial trail to rival Newt and Callista’s tab at Tiffany’s. Someone will eventually notice the cash outflow, and you will wind up out of office, disgraced, and hosting a poorly rated chat show on CNN.

4. Never, ever, ever send a woman cellphone pics of yourself in any state of undress.

5. OK. If you absolutely must, at least don’t photograph yourself while flexing feebly in front of your bathroom mirror. Have your personal trainer help with the shoot. Or your chiropractor. Or the gal who waxes your back on Thursdays. Better yet, call Rep. Aaron Schock for tips on how to get your abs featured on the cover of Men’s Health. Abs not cover-worthy? Refer again to No. 4.

6. Stay away from interns and pages of any gender. Please.

Finally—and perhaps most vitally:

7. Avoid knocking up your on-the-side honey. This sounds like a no-brainer, especially for wealthy, high-profile men with so much to lose. Yet just a few years after the John Edwards circus, Americans are now agog over Arnold’s secret love child. Who knows how many other illicit bundles of joy are out there just waiting for daddy to come clean? Clearly, the abstinence message needs massaging.

As with any adolescent coupling, it’s not hard to see how this sort of accident happens: Hormones rage, no one is careful 100 percent of the time, condoms break, women forget—or even “forget”—to take care of things themselves. And, let’s face it, the recklessness of an affair is often part of the thrill, and worrying about birth control is a total buzz kill.

But carelessness is no answer when the stakes are this high. As such, let me take this opportunity to vigorously advocate vasectomies—at least for older, more mature politicians who’ve had all the kids they and their wives plan to have. Even for those who don’t intend to stray, why risk it? One simple in-office procedure can virtually ensure that a pol will never find himself struggling to explain to his wife why the housekeeper’s kid is the spitting image of the pol’s first-grade class photo. Is it a big, scary step for many men? Yes. But think of all the pain and suffering it could save us.

Do it for you families, do it for yourselves, if nothing else, do it for your country.

Michelle Cottle is a Washington reporter for The Daily Beast.