Eric Greitens mugshot

You probably think you don’t know anyone from Missouri. Well, check it out: I’m from Missouri! And I’m guessing there are two things you want to know about my home state: Where it is, and what the deal is with our governor.

As to the location of Missouri, it is a secret. But as to our governor, please allow me to answer your hypothetical questions. And a warning: like everything in the Show-Me State, this gets a little racy!

First things first. How do you pronounce “Greitens”?

It rhymes with “tightens.” Or “frightens.”

Greitens tightens, freightens. Got it. So, how did Missouri end up with such a handsome, well-muscled governor? Are you guys just lucky?

I can’t say we feel lucky. Here’s the backstory: Eric Greitens is a Navy SEAL, Rhodes scholar, Oxford PhD…

Wait, can I interrupt you right there and write a note reminding myself to vote for him for president in 2020?

He also started a non-profit to help fellow veterans, published his memoirs, and appeared on The Daily Show. And, finally, he ran for governor of Missouri, on the Republican ticket. The campaign made national news, since his ads featured him shooting a Gatling gun at a pond.

What did that pond ever do to Eric Greitens?

The ad seems to imply that it was “trying to steal another Missouri election.”

Eric Greitens campaign ad

If you prefer politics-with-machine-guns over politics-as-usual, might I suggest that you’d be happier moving to a different sort of country?

I’m not from Missouri. Do your state politics involve a lot of people shooting giant machine guns?

Not typically. But the ad helped him achieve a few things. First, it referenced his military background. Second, in a statewide political environment heavily influenced by the 2015 racial unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, it implied that he would use the national guard more aggressively than his predecessor. And finally, since he’d been a Democrat for nearly all his life, he might have been using that gun as a sort of cultural marker.

Wait, he was a Democrat?

Yes. Until literally the previous year. You see, sometimes Democrats with lots of ambition but few core values decide that their best strategy is to switch parties and run as a Republican.

I can’t think of anyone like that, except maybe the president. Anyhoo, how is Greitens doing as governor? I noticed that this piece opens with his mugshot, so I guess it’s not going that well.

The very short version is that he has been arrested and indicted on two separate criminal counts: One involving revenge porn, and the other involving campaign fundraising violations. Which one do you want to hear about?

I think you know the answer to that question.

So, shortly before the 2016 election, Greitens began having an affair with his hairdresser. He has admitted this and said that since his wife has forgiven him, it’s no one else’s business.

Well, sure. Having an affair with your hairdresser isn’t against the law. Or at least, that’s what my hairdresser keeps telling me.

Fair enough. But that’s not where this sordid tale ends. His hairdresser has also said that their affair began when he offered to take her down to his basement to show her “how to do a proper pull-up,” which involved binding her hands to pull-up rings, and then blindfolding and undressing her.

Wait…is that how you do a pull-up correctly? Because if so, I’ve been doing them wrong.

You should probably check your gym’s rules before trying it. In any event, she has further said that once he had her tied-up, undressed and blindfolded, he snapped a picture without her permission and threatened to release it if she didn’t keep their encounter secret.

Two decades ago, that probably could have been a plot twist in a rom com.

After her estranged husband secretly recorded her telling him this story and then gave the recording to the local media, Greitens was indicted for felony invasion of privacy. The Republican-controlled Missouri House of Representatives launched an investigation, and released a report on Greitens’ behavior so dripping with stomach-churning vileness that I almost hesitate to link to it. And, following that investigation, it scheduled a special legislative session to consider impeachment.

Well, it sounds like his goose is cooked. Multiple criminal indictments and a GOP-led impeachment proceeding? How can he possibly slip out of this one?

He has very good lawyers defending him, and they got the first indictment dismissed by threatening to call the prosecutor as a witness.

Wait, what? Is that an option? If so, then I know how I can become a hugely successful criminal defense attorney.

It’s rarely an option. But in this case, one of the investigators on the prosecutor’s team had been credibly accused of perjury, so the judge allowed it. Rather than pursue a case in which she herself would be a witness, the prosecutor dropped the invasion-of-privacy charges but indicated that she intends to have another prosecutor refile them.

That was pretty confusing.

Sorry. Kate said I had to add it.

Are there any other factors helping Greitens?

There is an inherent he said/she said element to the allegations that may not convince a jury, especially since prosecutors do not have the alleged photo. Greitens remains popular among Republican voters in the state. And finally, while many Republican elected officials have called for his resignation or impeachment, others have adopted his narrative that the whole thing is a witch hunt—“exactly like what’s happening with the witch hunts in Washington, D.C.”

There sure are a lot of witch hunts going on against powerful men these days!

It really would have troubled the original 17th century witch hunters.

Needless to say, complaining about witch hunts is quite presidential. But don’t these scandals mean Greitens will never be president?

It should be clear by now that literally any white man has a shot at becoming president.

Last question: You mentioned that Greitens authored a memoir. Does it have a title so ridiculously over-the-top that you start to wonder whether we’re all living in a computer simulation?


The Heart and the Fist