What makes sex and politics such constant companions? How is it that one part of human life, so associated with passion, lust, excitement, sensual pleasures and primal, irresistible urges, so frequently gets mixed up with the rather dull and prosaic business of sex? And why are we so interested? Why are we fascinated by the sexual escapades of our political leaders, so gripped by the thought of their naked sweaty couplings?
To take a recent specific example, what is it about the mental image of ex-NSW Health Minister John Della Bosca heaving and grunting and panting over the willing body of a bright young comedy writer, thwapping away in a fleshy, red-faced morass of illicit parliamentary penetration, that so captures our imagination, and causes us to pore over the details for days on end, rather than, for example, projectile vomiting for a few minutes and the applying a vacuum cleaner directly to the surface of our brains? In short, why is it so?
Perhaps it is because in sex and politics, we find the two most consuming issues of most of our lives. For what else is there? I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that pretty much every action I take in life is directed towards either accumulating political power, or getting laid.
But the problem that we find is that when one achieves real success in one of these spheres, there is a certain expectation that we pull back on our pursuit of the other — thus we see elected officials pressured to stop having casual sex, and adult film actors discouraged from running for office. But why should this be so? How can we reasonably expect a man like John "Italian Stallion" Della Bosca to give full rein to his passion for partisan politics, but restrain his equally enormous appetite for sexual indiscretion? It’s like expecting Wayne Swan to steer the economy on a steady course without constantly repeating himself, or expecting Tony Abbott to provide effective alternative policy options without appearing frighteningly psychotic — it goes against nature.
But with Della Bosca, the story goes deeper. We all remember the Iguanagate affair, wherein John Della Bosca and his wife, federal MP Belinda "Smokin’ Joe" Neal, were dining at a Gosford club when Neal, enraged by club staff’s unreasonable requests and intolerably loud breathing, exploded in a conflagration of verbal abuse and berserk physical violence that ended with her standing on top of the bar swiping at anyone in range with a hockey stick, according to certain eyewitness accounts the source of which I can’t presently think of.
After the Iguana incident, the Australian public was filled with many deep and contemplative thoughts. These varied from "Wow" to "Jesus Christ!" in their depth and insight. However, one thought which I’m pretty sure did not occur to them in the aftermath of that scandal was, "Hmm, Belinda Neal — now THERE’S a woman you’d be pretty comfortable cheating on." Let’s not forget that this is a woman who keeps the names of her enemies in her freezer, putting them metaphorically "on ice" until she is ready to open her mighty jaws and consume them. I think it’s safe to say that right now there’s a note reading "John Della Bosca" between the Home Brand Neapolitan and the McCain’s Potato Gems. Then again, we have to consider the more sinister possibility that the name-in-the-freezer gag was simply Neal’s way of dealing with those enemies to whom she did not have sufficient access to place actual body parts in cold storage — a problem that would not arise, obviously, with her own husband.
So we have established that John Della Bosca, besides being a man of indefatigable energy and, according to his erstwhile mistress, a "spunk", possesses enormous physical courage. But what sort of politician is he? Have his skills been sapped by his extra-curricular activities? Has he found that his ability to forge a meaningful public career has been hampered by his focus on mesmerising innocent young ladies with his irresistible sexual magnetism?
Well, the answer is clearly no. To the contrary, Della Bosca has managed to establish himself as one of the country’s leading political animals, a man whom Police Minister Tony Kelly describes as "too talented to lose", a man who was instrumental in Paul Keating’s successful challenge to Bob Hawke, and who was all set to bring down NSW Premier Nathan Rees before this scandal hit. In fact, few men have done more to foster the vibrant, exciting culture of governance-paralysing, back-stabbing intrigue that has made the Australian polity the ever-changing, never-boring kaleidoscope of stagnation it is today than John Della Bosca.
Which just goes to show the truth of the old proverb, "secret illicit sexual affairs are very good for your professional development". Only last week, of course, I wrote an article demonstrating this very fact. Is it not possible that the factor that transformed John F. Kennedy from a sickly, pill-popping, chipmunk-faced plagiarist to the greatest president most Americans think they remember was in fact his predilection for almost constant infidelity? Consider the possibility, nay probability, that JFK was only given the emotional fortitude and intellectual heft to inspire a generation and change the world via the constitutional sustenance that can only come from sexually using and then discarding an endless torrent of naïve young women dazzled by his wealth and power. Consider the same pattern is repeated through history and the world today. Think of Silvio Berlusconi, ruling Italy with an iron fist, fuelled by determination, megalomania, and prostitutes. Convincing, is it not? Has there been an effective world leader who was not an insatiable lecher? From Kennedy, to Berlusconi, to Angela Merkel, they’re all champion pants-men.
So we’ve established that if we want the best in political personnel, we should encourage as much sex with as many people as possible — looking at you, Kevin — but there are other benefits to political sex scandals. NSW is a perfect case study. This is not the first scandal of a carnal nature to strike that wacky bunch up Sydney way. There was, of course, "Titty-F*cking Your Mothergate", when then-Police Minister Matt Brown had to resign because of the moral hysteria that attached itself to his playful colleague-humping. Of course, this incident, like Della Bosca’s virile romping, attracted much vitriol and outrage from the Moral Majority, which is currently made up of seven lobotomised pensioners chained to typewriters in Bill Muehlenberg’s basement.
How shocking, the wowsers tut. What a way to behave! How can we have confidence in these people to exercise responsible power over our lives when they are in thrall to these uncontrollable urges?
But let’s look at the alternative. In Victoria, the state to which I am currently shackled, we have a different kind of politician. The kind of politician that doesn’t cheat on his wife, or mount the chest of a fellow parliamentarian, or lick absinthe off the Speaker’s bare belly, like they do in NSW. No, what do we have in Victoria? The kind of politician who wanders off in the mountains and falls over. Wow. How wonderful for the people of Victoria. There’s something to be proud of. Oh no, we don’t have any rutting Della Boscas, we don’t have any gyrating Matt Browns, we don’t even have any Troy "smell that upholstery" Buswells — who made WA fun again — to spice up our lives.
And you know what? Victoria sucks. It’s depressing. Everyone just mopes about, staggering aimlessly through the grey, windswept streets, wrapping their ugly black clothes tight around them and rushing off the footpath every five minutes to take refuge from the horrible intermittent drizzle in a claustrophobic café where you can sit and drink coffee out of a chipped World War Two-vintage mug while you stick your elbow in someone’s minestrone every time you shift your seat because the entire place is only three square metres but still has 25 tables in it so the owner can make up for the razor-thin margins on his $4.50 bottles of Coke that you only bought so you’d have somewhere warm to sit before squeezing yourself back out into the city again so you can weave in and out of the homeless people asking for money outside McDonald’s on your way to the station where you’ll catch a train with ripped seats and broken air-conditioning and stand cheek to cheek with a bunch of sweaty bogans in hoodies until you get to Dandenong, where most of them get off and you can sit and stretch your legs because you’re now sharing the carriage with three angry teenage boys with knives who are about to steal your iPhone and leave you bleeding to death in a field under some powerlines because civilisation in Victoria only extends to a radius of 18 feet around the perimeter of Flinders Street Station.
And you know what we’re saying as we go through this? We’re saying, "If only we had political leaders with a bit of guts, things would be better. If only our government had some gumption, some dash, some imagination. If only our government did something more interesting than sitting in the snow crying." To be blunt, we’re living in a state where a look at the houses of parliament reveals not a single MP who you’d believe could pull a chick with an eight-metre lasso, and therein lies the source of the malaise that squats over our state like a great black cloud of smoke from a coal-fired power plant, which in fact it is.
So please, NSW, be grateful for what you’ve got. You’ve got the government that brought sexy back. You’ve got the government that knows how to party. You’ve got the government that takes its pants off and shakes its money-maker all the way down the corridors of power. For God’s sake, appreciate it. Because they won’t be there forever. And the day the desktops of Macquarie Street no longer shake with the weight of bumping uglies, you’ll realise just what you’ll be missing.
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