Oh, how quaint it now seems. Back in 1978, detractors of the disgraced President Richard Nixon urged people to boycott the former president's memoirs, touting the catchy slogan "Don't buy books from crooks."
Sadly, notoriety and general bad behavior virtually guarantees that someone will be able to get a book deal or some other media reward. Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer could have done the decent thing after the indecency of patronizing prostitutes, a particularly distasteful act given that he had been the chief law enforcement officer for the state and prosecuted prostitution rings. But instead of retreating from the public eye, Spitzer was rewarded with TV political chat-host jobs. Accused murderer and convicted criminal OJ Simpson managed to have it both ways, beating a murder rap but penning the book If I Did It, spelling out what might have happened, even though officially, it didn't.
So is it any surprise that we have a current and a forthcoming book, respectively, from two people whose notoriety stems from their sex lives?
Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is out with Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story which would have been an iffy sell if Schwarzenegger hadn't ended his gubernatorial career with the disclosure that he had fathered a son with the family housekeeper. If body-building and flexing one's oiled-up body for photos isn't vain enough on its own, this book seals it. Fathering a child with a family employee (did the concept of using a condom never occur to him, one wonders?) is humiliating enough for Schwarzenegger's soon-to-be ex-wife, Maria Shriver. Confessing it in a book—and getting paid to do it—is the ultimate in self-centeredness, since his public confession serves only to cleanse whatever is left of his conscience.
And Monica Lewinsky has reportedly been given a $12 million advance for her memoirs, which one assumes will include more detail than the biography by Andrew Morton of her. Lewinsky, who had a sexual relationship with former President Bill Clinton, was neither victim nor evil seductress—she exercised poor judgment (as did Clinton) and paid dearly for it. Most of us would merely suffer a broken heart or limited embarrassment. Lewinsky's relationship will forever be the dominant description of her life, and that's unfair. But she's making it worse by escalating the issue by writing a book. Revealing details of one's private sex life, as both the former governor and Lewinsky are doing, is distasteful and self-centered. Getting paid for it is abhorrent.