I have spent that last few days skipping back and forth between The Expats by Chris Pavone and news about 21 prostitutes brought to a beach side Colombian hotel by two Secret Service supervisors and three counter-assault team members.
Eleven Secret Service members in all are alleged to have participated in the orgy. All were part of the advance team for President Obama’s trip to the area as part of the Summit of the Americas. There is some question, from what little I could bring myself to read, as to whether or not the President’s itinerary, as classified a document as you can get, was locked in the hotel room where the prostitutes were brought or kept safely somewhere else. It does seem that the secret service members were talking loudly in the brothel about just who they were and why they were there.
In Pavone’s novel, a housewife and mother, who is really an undercover CIA agent, ends up investigating her husband, a bank fraud expert with a deep secret involving fifty million euros in a Luxembourg bank account. Some of the action occurs in Amsterdam where the protagonist has to strip inside a legal brothel to prove she isn’t wearing a wire before buying a gun from one of the proprietors.
As you might imagine I enjoyed reading the novel a lot more than the real life reports from South America. The good guys win in the end and despite the appearance of betrayal there is a reason for everything, even between husband and wife keeping the worst secrets from each other.
The issue with the Secret Service story isn’t just the potential breach of national security, not just the bad behavior on its face, or the embarrassment to our President or our country. It’s just so damned cliched. In a world beset by real issues do we really need another story of male sexual impropriety on the front page of the newspaper?
I kind of got a sick chuckle out of Dominque Strauss Kahn’s lawyer defending his participation in an orgy with hookers by saying they were all naked so his client was unable to tell which was which. But only because the parody of men behaving badly had reached yet another nadir…until now.
Was what these guys did wrong? Of course. Should they be punished? Absolutely. Should it wake us up to a deeper problem with how we think about manhood in the United States? I sure hope so.
But in the meantime I am going to keep reading novels with female CIA agents who kick ass just to titrate the assault of news about guys who can’t keep it in their pants.
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