Bernd Debusmann

Power, sex and conventional wisdom

Bernd Debusmann
May 20, 2011 14:41 UTC

Would there be fewer sex scandals if the world were run by women?

The question comes to mind in the wake of scandals that involve two powerful men, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and came to light almost simultaneously. Strauss-Kahn resigned as head of the International Monetary Fund four days after being arrested in New York for allegedly trying to rape a hotel maid. Schwarzenegger, the former governor of California, admitted having fathered a child with a woman on his household staff.

The two cases are in a different league – Strauss-Kahn is accused of a violent crime, while Schwarzenegger betrayed his wife, Maria Shriver, who stood by him when he campaigned for the governorship under a cloud of accusations that he had groped women during his rise to action movie superstardom.

One of the first public comments on the Schwarzenegger affair came from a prominent woman, former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm, who suggested it showed that the United States needed more female politicians. “Another guy guv admits 2 cheating on his wife. Maybe we need more women governors. Guys: keep ur pants zipped,” she tweeted.

The message reflects conventional wisdom – men are more prone to sexual misbehavior and adultery than women. “I’m confident predicting there would be fewer sex scandals if women were in power,” former White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers wrote in her 2008 book “Why Women Should Rule the World.”

Such predictions are based in large part on the long list of men caught up in scandal at the pinnacle of power, both in politics and business, by adulterous affairs, sexual harassment or rape.

Pakistan and questions over foreign aid

Bernd Debusmann
May 13, 2011 14:38 UTC

In the flurry of statements on the killing of Osama bin Laden, a remark from Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, Husain Haqqani, spoke volumes about how U.S. foreign aid tends to be perceived by its recipients. It’s not enough.

“The United States spent much more money in Iraq than it did in Afghanistan,” Haqqani said in a television interview. “And then it spent much more in Afghanistan than it did in Pakistan. So were there cracks through which things fell through? Absolutely.”

That twisted logic suggests that if only Washington had given Pakistan a few billion more than the $20.7 billion it provided over the past decade, bin Laden, a man with a $27 million bounty on his head, would not have “fallen through the cracks.” Those cracks were wide enough to swallow bin Laden’s one-acre walled compound with a three-storey building in a garrison town near the Pakistani capital.

Obama and the vexed issue of immigration

Bernd Debusmann
May 6, 2011 16:22 UTC

Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

WASHINGTON, May 6 (Reuters) — It was a pledge that helped Barack Obama win the presidency. “I cannot guarantee that it is going to be in the first 100 days. But what I can guarantee is that we will have in the first year an immigration bill that I strongly support and that I’m promoting.”

That was on May 28, 2008, and it went down well with the largest and fastest growing minority in the United States, Americans of Latin American descent. Of the around 10 million Latinos who went to the polls in November 2008, more than two thirds voted for Obama. For many of them, he has been a disappointment. Once in office, he put immigration on the back burner. He did not push the issue when Democrats had solid majorities in both houses of Congress.

Instead, in the first two years of the Obama presidency, around 1,100 illegal immigrants were deported every day, on average, a pace without precedent. According to the Department of Homeland Security, deportations totaled 387,790 in 2009 and 392,000 in 2010. These are not figures that have endeared Obama to immigrant communities.