An individual’s sexual misdeeds have never caused a greater shock and disappointment in living memory than the alleged sexual assault attributed to Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the French managing director of the International Monetary Fund who is under arrest in New York after a hotel maid reported to police a case of attempted rape Sunday.
Bill Clinton managed to survive the Monica Lewinsky scandal with a candid apology to Americans and Tiger Woods is back on the green after a costly divorce settlement. Gary Hart’s presidential ambition in the 1980s sank when his extramarital affair with a model was exposed. But unlike the allegations cited by the New York authorities against the IMF chief, these were not criminal sex acts. France is known for greater social tolerance of private lives, yet few doubt the incident at Sofitel Hotel in Manhattan spells an end to Strauss-Kahn’s public career.
Few at the moment would extend the generosity of assuming innocence until proven guilty and thousands of Internet users across the world wrote in their revulsion at the way financial elites do their surreptitious business through recurring global economic crises and enjoy the luxury of sleeping in a $3,000-per-night room, attacking a maid for sexual gratification.
The IMF will have to find a new leader and the French Socialist Party should search for a new torchbearer for the presidential election barely a year away. The shockwaves will go beyond the caf tables in Paris and the board rooms of Wall Street to the campaign centers of the seekers of high offices everywhere with fresh warnings for moral uprightness.
Here, we have seen some rising political figures facing disgrace over complaints of sexual harassment but the political arena has fortunately been saved from serious sexual scandals of late. We are afraid that, after all these years of corruption scandals and consumptive internal feuds, anything remotely akin to the misbehavior of the IMF chief would drag our political community’s social credibility as low as it can go.