I’ve been teaching The Crucible to my American Lit students. Last week we discussed the sullied hero, John Proctor and his struggle with guilt over his extramarital affair. It seems that an inordinate number of powerful men have engaged in adulterous liaisons. Bill Clinton was not the first American president to commit adultery. Many historians suspect founding father, George Washington was an adulterer. And we know FDR, JFK, LBJ, and Ronnie Reagan, just to name a few American presidents, were adulterers. We’re relatively sure hundred dollar Ben Franklin had plenty of action on the side.Winston Churchill and Albert Einstein fooled around on their wives too.
I find it troublesome to accept the fact that Martin Luther King was a cheater. I just can’t seem to wrap my brain around the fact that Martin Luther King, a man who sacrificed his life for others, was an adulterer. Worse yet, the history books tell me that Gandhi was a member of the cheatin’ husbands club. Gandhi? GANDHI? I mean how did that work? I’m trying to visualize Gandhi fasting away in his loin cloth, proving to the world that change can come through nonviolence, eyeballing some hot young number as she slinks by.
“Hey sweetie, wanna meet me up in my room for a night cap after the nonviolent protest?”
A few years ago I was sitting in an educational leadership class toward my master’s degree. It was a cohort class hosted by the Tempe School District and was taught by the superintendent of Tempe schools. I was the only teacher in the room who didn’t work for Tempe. We were discussing common flaws in leaders and I brought up the tendency of powerful men to engage in extramarital brouhahas. Baby, you could have heard a pin drop. Nobody said a word for what seemed like forever and a day. Finally the instructor said something about all men being flawed and moved uncomfortably to another topic.
As I walked to my car one of my classmates asked,” You ever read the paper?”
“Not lately.” I replied, “It’s been a busy week.”
“You might want to check out the front page of today’s Republic.” he said before climbing into his car and abruptly slamming the door.
I stopped at the Gas and Gulp on the way home to pick up a copy of the paper. And plastered on the front page was a photograph of none other than the instructor of the leadership class, a.k.a. the superintendent of the Tempe School District. It seemed that he had gotten himself into a messy affair with a younger woman. The angry woman had made public some embarrassing emails and the superintendent’s wife wasn’t very happy him.