Billy Snedden, John Gorton, Harold Holt and Robert Menzies were adulterers, yet none of them resigned because of it, nor did any newspaper suggest an early election because of it. Sir James Killen committed adultery with a fellow minister, Bob Hawke with his biographer Blanche d ‘Alpuget, Ben Chifley with his secretary, John Curtin with his landlady if we are to believe David Day. Sir Henry Parkes was a notorious fondler and swiver. Don Dunstan’s multiple homosexual affairs were known at the time.
It is hard to think of a leader, state or federal, who has not strayed from the marital bed. Joh Bjelke Petersen kept his girlfriend Beryl. Jack Lang had children by another woman, known to the neighbourhood.
Yet no one seems to mind much. It seems to be regarded by many Australians as part of the package of energetic leadership. And by many Americans too, whose Presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush senior, Ronald Reagan, Lyndon Johnson, John Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower, FD Roosevelt, Warren Harding, Woodrow Wilson, Grover Cleveland, Abraham Lincoln (who caught syphilis and gave it to his wife) and Thomas Jefferson (who sired several bastard sons on his black slave) were known to be adulterers at the time, as was the wise hero and founding father Benjamin Franklin.
And many English too, who fondly forgave the “Welsh Ram” David Lloyd George, the bisexual Hugh Gaitskell, the cuckolded bisexual Harold Macmillan (whose wife bore, it is said, Lord Boothby’s child), the quietly promiscuous Harold Wilson, the blatantly homos-xual Ted Heath, the genial John Major who had an affair with fellow minister Edwina Curry, the haughty Margaret Thatcher who displaced a previous Margaret Thatcher in her eventual husband’s bed. Queen Victoria’s favourite Prime Minister Lord Melbourne shared his wife with Lord Byron, Benjamin Disraeli his mistress with several flat-mates, and Henry VIII, of course, who gave syphilis to his six wives and beheaded two of them.
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And the French don’t mind it either, but that goes without saying.
Yet The Daily Telegraph finds John Della Bosca’s affair with a young scriptwriter shocking, and a reason for the Governor to overturn the constitution and sack Nathan Rees as her predecessor did Jack Lang. Della took a holiday from his famously stroppy wife and then went back to her. Shocking.
The government must fall.
Can it be The Daily Telegraph has a double standard? Or a boss who is frantic to bring down Nathan Rees, as he did Gough Whitlam with a constitutional coup d’etat? Or is it just a coincidence that splenetic puritans cluster in that newspaper and nowhere else?
What is really distressing is how the Australian public has copped all this. They don’t themselves feel affronted by what Della did. Yet they don’t mind seeing him ruined by a targeted campaign from whoever it is who wants Labor out in New South Wales bloody soon and don’t care how they achieve this unconstitutional goal.
How pathetic we have all become, putty it would seem.
What a sorrow and a pity. What a shame.