Falls from grace are a familiar trope in American political life. Even still, I’m surprised that Boy Scout-y Al Gore, crusading environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, turned out to be a lecherous dog. But the bigger, and sadder surprise is that he forced himself on a massage therapist. Suddenly Bill Clinton’s consensual nooky with an intern doesn’t sound so bad.
Massage therapists have waged a long battle for respectability. They are highly trained professionals who must complete years of study, depending on the state, and hundreds of practical hours before getting licensed. They are experts in musculature, tissue, fascia, and joints. They can help arthritics stand up straight, athletes recover from injury, and the rest of us feel less stressed. If you ever need a reminder about the miracle of massage therapy, log onto the Touch Institute’s website and learn about the medical research going on around massage therapy.
So the allegations that almost-president Gore forced himself on 54-year-old massage therapist Molly Hagerty are especially troubling. Gore allegedly groped her, tried to kiss her, and demanded a “happy ending,” before getting angry that Hagerty wouldn’t comply. How ironic that the man America proclaimed the ultimate Sensitive New Age Guy is likely guilty of unwanted sexual advances—and of demeaning a nurturing profession that was finally getting respect on a national stage.