Although the sexual habits of those in power tend to reflect the broader population, they are amplified to some extent. In order to understand it, one has to consider that many men seek power, wealth and social status in order to ultimately win the affection of women. Men know that women desire a mate who’s well suited to fathering and protecting a family. Some of that obviously comes down to genes. Men with certain physical characteristics are obviously highly desirable. But in modern society, wealth and status also come into play. Men who can afford to send their kids to the most exclusive schools and have the social connections to give their children better opportunities are also highly valued by the opposite gender. It is perhaps the very drive for successful procreation that drives men to achieve greatness, which also accounts for the seemingly illogical and risky behavior they display while in power. The thrill of the chase doesn’t always wear off once a man has gotten married and settled.
But this brings up a real question about leadership. Some would question whether a man who has cheated on his spouse and lied about it to the public the way Congressman Weiner did is really fit for leadership. My question is, given what we know now about men in power, are they any less qualified once their indiscretions have surfaced than they were before? The answer is tricky: yes and no.
On the one hand men with strong desire for leadership are generally someone you want in a position of power. They will usually display surprising level of loyalty, they are highly concerned about how the public views them, and they are generally willing to withstand the usual slings and arrows that lesser men may tend to avoid. On the other hand, when their private lives become such a distraction that it makes them susceptible to their political enemies, they become a liability to those who depend on them – constituents, employees and their political colleagues. Those upon whom they rely for support and other members of their coalitions of power do not want to be painted with the broad scarlet brush. At that point they can no longer lead effectively.
One last thing needs to be said about Twitter though. It has become the pool upon which so many young narcissists now reflect themselves. But there has not yet developed a meaningful social etiquette for using it. Twitter, like most social networking tools, was designed by some of the least socially adept people in the society. Think of a college age Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs hanging in a corner at a frat party twittering instead of talking to any of the real girls in front of them. Social networking, in this sense, tends to mask rather than erase a sense of social distance that many people feel. It was supposed to be the nerd getting one over on the frat boy. But in the end leadership and popularity still comes down to developing social graces and acting in a certain acceptable way….no matter how many Facebook stock options you might hold.