Peter Orszag's not alone: A brief history of the political "love child"
Good news for Peter Orszag: He's not the first American politician to father a child out of wedlock -- and it's not always a career-killer.
Grover Cleveland acknowledged paying support for a child who may or may not have been his. The story dogged the Democrat through his 1884 presidential campaign -- opponents jeered "Ma, Ma, where's my Pa?" -- but he won. Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) admitted in 1998 that he had fathered a child in a 1983 adulterous affair. He's still in Congress. In 2001, Jesse Jackson withdrew briefly from activism after acknowledging a child by a former aide, but he's back on the scene now.
Still, there's nothing like a love child to propel a sex scandal. It can be next to impossible to prove that somebody's fooling around, said George Washington University journalism professor Mark Feldstein, now writing a book on how the media cover Washington scandals, but a baby "is the walking, living embodiment of the indiscretion."
Assuming, of course, there's an indiscretion. In 2008, Rep. Vito Fossella (R-N.Y.) decided not to run again after the revelation that he had a 3-year-old daughter with a girlfriend -- but he was also married at the time. (Exacerbating matter: the DWI arrest that led reporters to discover his secret family.) And don't forget John Edwards, who slept with Rielle Hunter during his wife's illness and his high-stakes race for the Democratic presidential nomination -- a career-ender for sure, though we still don't know if he fathered Hunter's child.
Orszag, though, is single. (Even if the timing of ex-girlfriend Claire Milonas's pregnancy and his courtship of new fiancee Bianna Golodryga has raised eyebrows.) As OMB director, he doesn't have to face voters. And he's lucky to be procreating in the era of Brangelina. "If people give it a collective shrug, it will be because Hollywood has paved the way, with so many stars openly having children out of wedlock," Feldstein said. "It's not quite the shameful subject it once was."
The Reliable Source
January 11, 2010; 1:03 AM ET
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