The XX Factor

Abstinence, All Night Long

For those who have observed that there is no place more throbbing with sexuality and longing than a True Love Waits conference, here is your best example. Republican Rep. Mark Souder, who announced his resignation today after admitting to an affair with staffer Tracy Jackson, had earlier recorded this Web video with her (embedded below, with thanks to Talking Points Memo for unearthing it). In it, a very poised and lovely Jackson interviews a very animated and wonky Souder. The subject is-God help us-abstinence. Only pop-up videos could do justice to the experience of watching this five-minute clip. Maybe it’s my imagination, but it seems to me that Souder looks away every time he says the phrase “abstain from sex.” He looks up again when he says, “Guess what? Nothing works very well,” meaning works to prevent sex. At one point, watching him, Jackson says “No! No!” in a way my overheated imagination translated as lustily. The phrase “Put the condom on correctly” elicits a slight smile. Or maybe that’s intense discomfort?

Elsewhere on Slate , my husband asks, comparing Souder to the recently disgraced Connecticut Senate hopeful Richard Blumenthal, is lying about your military record worse than lying about an affair ? Here is one reason why the affair is worse: With a military record, you are harming your own reputation and then distantly, those who did actually serve. With an affair you are very directly dragging down a host of people you love-mistress, wife, children, etc. Now poor Tracy Jackson has to duck out of the country for a few weeks and find a new job. While poor Mrs. Souder, like many a good political wife before her, has to endure the indignity of her husband assuring the world that she is indeed “more than willing to stand here with me.”