The following youtube video is a recorded conversation between Congressman Tim Mahoney and Patricia Allen, a former female staffer, whom we learned yesterday has been, ahem, serving the good congressman in more ways than one. Even for a viewing public inured to the shocking truth of infidelity and betrayal as portrayed on countless reality TV shows, this conversation sounds especially ugly.
To be fair, neither party represents themselves well in this exchange. Ms. Allen sounds , greedy, and shrill, and Mr. Mahoney sounds arrogant and abusive. Still, Mr. Mahoney’s constituents will probably find his conduct more disappointing than hers. Perhaps I am hopelessly old fashioned, but it I have always believed that there is an appropriate way to talk to a woman, and this is definitely not it.
For example, Mahoney’s “you work at my pleasure” line would be insulting even if it were directed toward a man, but for a woman (and a woman who shared his bed to boot) it must come across as particularly demeaning. Technically, it’s true that Mr. Mahoney has the right to hire and fire members of his own staff as he pleases. But common decency requires the employer to give a reason, and whatever reasons he gave her were clearly not very convincing. She is probably correct in saying that he wasn’t “man enough” to tell her the real reason for her dismissal.
Furthermore, I find the general tenor of this conversation disturbing. To my way of thinking (again, I’m very old fashioned) sex really should be something that accompanies some sort of emotional bond, or at least a sense of respect, between the participants. No one can listen to this conversation and come away with the impression that Mr. Mahoney respects Ms. Allen. Certainly he has no affection for her. The fact that he carried on a two year affair with a woman he neither likes nor respects tells us something about Mahoney himself, and that something is not pretty.