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Peter Orszag's not alone: A brief history of the political "love child"

Vito Fossella (Rich A. Lipski/The Washington Post); Grover Cleveland (NYPL Picture Collection/AP); Jesse Jackson (Russel A. Daniels/AP)

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.

Peter Orszag. (Jason Reed/Reuters)

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."

By The Reliable Source  |  January 11, 2010; 1:03 AM ET
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The point of the story is what? The others who had children were married - Orszag is/was not married.

No mention of Jefferson.

Posted by: rlj1 | January 11, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Well, we know what Orszag was doing, and it wasn't the job he was being paid for by taxpayer. He is a complete failure, and has misled this country for the last 360 days. Maybe if he stopped trying so hard to prove he is heterosexual, he might have done a better job. He helped in destroying this economy, increasing unemployment by 3%, and wasting $1 trillion in stimulus. This fellow barhoppers at Goldman Sachs may love him while they count their average $700,000 in bonus money, but the American People would like him to seek help for his misogyny and have Obama find someone qualified for the position.

Now that Orszag has 3 children, one has to wonder how he finds time to be a father, gigilo, government worker, and a full-time idiot.

Posted by: Cornell1984 | January 11, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Yes, what was the point of this story?

Any story is only evaluated in context. The context is that this administration campaigned on responsibility, transparency and accountability. Apparently that was a load of cow manure.

Also, they we are supposed to trust them -as they negotiate the reform of the largest sector of the economy (health care)in secret - becuase they are better and smarter than us. Well, apparently that is not the case.

Posted by: mellwood1 | January 11, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

When did Jesse Jackson become a politician? He's never been elected for any position. He is as much a politician as Lyndon LaRouche.

Posted by: tannerwi | January 11, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Orszag is not a politician. He works for a politician, but he is not one. You even say it here: "As OMB director, he doesn't have to face voters." Politicians face voters by definition.

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | January 11, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Um...isn't Orszag practising transparency by allowing everyone access to his private life? Hasn't he taken responsibility for being the kid's father? Isn't that accountability? Isn't he owning up to paying child support, etc.? Isn't he pretty much doing everything some of you people accuse him of NOT doing? Is anybody hiding anything? Even TRYING to hide anything?

At least he isn't hiking the Appalachian trail, taking a wide stance, denying paternity, having an adulterous affair with anyone while (being a married) Speaker of the House, or otherwise having a thoroughly Republican sex life.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 11, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

By the way, Cornell, perhaps you could explain how you find the time to be a full-time idiot. We could all take notes and learn from your experience.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 11, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

orszag is hardly the first dc placeholder to practice sexual self-interest in a way to make ayn rand and adam smith proud. he found a wealthy and stupid girlfriend to offset the child support costs of a marriage he betrayed and now he finds a younger high profile social status fiance to replace her. we need joe wilson in the audience when orszag tells congress or some group to trust his good judgement. this could only be topped by his moving in with a gay couple like mayor rudy did, but opposing their desire for a recognized same sex marriage as undermining family values. and then moving out to marry his press secretary.

Posted by: george32 | January 11, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

What about the rumors floating about town that Vito Fossella also kept company with a mega-wealthy former Hollywood agent/ Saudi Aramco deal broker at his Pennsylvania Avenue love nest?

Posted by: ManOpener | January 11, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

You forgot the Congressman from the John Birch Society, I mean Orange County, California, John Schmitz, who had a secret second family. When it all became public he was utterly unrepentant, contending that it was his masculine prerogative. But it cost him his career and private life.

Coincidentally or (more likely) not, one of his children by his first wife grew up to become the infamous, and equally unrepentant, child-molesting 6th grade teacher Mary Kay Letourneau.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | January 11, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I gotta say... having a "love child" is a heck of a lot better than having a "hate child."

(Think Strom Thurmond here...)

Posted by: roblimo | January 11, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Two words: Strom Thurman

Posted by: Tamberg | January 11, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Honestly, I think the only real scandal surrounding Orszag is that there are multiple women willing to do him. He is one of the weirdest looking dudes I have ever seen, with that plasticky hair and a nose that's shaped like a pyramid. Surely there are hotter economists out there?

Posted by: dkp01 | January 11, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

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