Sam Adams and the Double Standard: Part 2
This commentary is the opinion of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.
January 24th, 2009
There’s a lot of confusion over Portland Mayor Sam Adams’ tryst with Beau Breedlove, the intern who Adams admitted to having a sexual relationship with. It’s time to bust some of these myths.
Myth: Because Breedlove was an intern, Adams abused his position of authority when he entered into a sexual relationship with Breedlove.
Fact: Beau Breedlove was a legislative intern in Eugene, not a Portland city intern. They met when Breedlove was interning in the Oregon House for state Rep. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer). Adams did not hold a position of professional authority over Breedlove.
Myth: Breedlove was just a 17-year-old boy.
Fact: According to Adams’ admission, Breedlove was an 18-year-old man when they initiated their sexual affair. At eighteen, Breedlove was old enough to sign contracts, join the army and go to war, and be tried as an adult for any crimes he might feel like committing.
Breedlove, because he is a legal, consenting adult, bears equal responsibility for the affair. What’s more, he appears to have an affinity for older men. Mark Merkle, 39, was Breedlove’s boyfriend for two years until last August.
This was a man, not a boy. Yet we have all sorts of people — gay and straight, Democratic and Republican — screaming for Mayor Adam’s resignation because he lied about having had perfectly legal sex with a perfectly legal consenting adult.
Hold that thought while we look at another set of myths swirling around another politician of note:
Myth: Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) admitted to have had perfectly illegal sex with a prostitute.
Fact: Oh, sorry. That was true. Vitter broke the law, but he didn’t admit to it until the statute of limitations had passed.
Myth: Sen. Vitter apologized to the Republican caucus in the Senate, and received a standing ovation.
Fact: Oh yeah. That part’s true also. Even though Vitter broke the law — something that Adams has apparently not done — he got a standing ovation.
But hey, Vitter’s admission of having engaged in an illegal sex act did come in at number five of Time magazine’s top ten awkward moments.
Let’s re-cap: Illegal sex? Awkward. Legal sex? Give him the heave-ho.
And what about the lying part?
Let’s cross the political aisle and consider Bill Clinton. After all, he lied under oath about a sexual encounter with an intern who really was his subordinate. But Clinton defenders said, well yeah, what do you expect? After all, his sex life is private, they said. He didn’t want his wife to find out, they said. He was protecting his daughter, they said. Who wouldn’t lie under those circumstances, they said. Besides, it was all a political witch hunt, they said.
That rallying cry that went “When Clinton lied, nobody died”? Gee, why don’t I see a similar call for perspective here among progressives?
Adams didn’t lie under oath. Instead, he told a very stupid lie about a very private matter that was none of anyone’s business while running for political office. Goodness! That’s never happened before!
So let’s re-cap again. Lies about gay sex with a consenting adult you have no authority over? Even liberals will call for your resignation. Lies about straight sex under oath with an intern you actually have authority over? You not only get to stay in office, but when your term finally reaches its natural conclusion, you get to enjoy the highest approval ratings of any president in history.
Nice presidential library you got there, Bill.