Follow me for a minute: Infidelity is immoral (not inevitable - that's a different post). Immorality reeks of poor judgment. Poor judgment hints at flawed character. Flawed character is not a desired trait in a great leader... right?
I watched Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer on Bio Channel the other night and it was... illuminating. There were so many machinations and subplots going on in the back drop of that scandal. There's no getting around the grimy 'married but paying for cocoa' element but the determination of pissy entitled old guard billionaires to bring him down seriously got my dander up.
Now I'm not in any way saying that Spitzer wasn't a damn fool for all the hooker shenanigans. But it made me wonder, does swimming knee deep in heaux shiggity really impact his ability to lead the state of New York? Was Clinton not an effective President because of the Lewinsky (et al) of it all? Do we think less of Kennedy's public service knowing he was a complete and total hound dog? Would Gary Hart have made a good president?
These questions confound me because I believe that Eliot Spitzer was doing some good things. Admittedly some bad things as well. Does his bad outweigh the good that he could have done? I'm just not sure. What do high profile trailblazers do after they piss on their own trail? Can we trust men who trip over their own d**ks to lead us? Is sexual impropriety as tragic a flaw as embezzling? Or is dishonesty and weakness in any form unacceptable for men in leadership positions?
I don't know... it sort of becomes a slippery slope when you start thinking: well, there are worst things they could have done. Hmm, would their wives agree? Sure, these men owe their wives apologies but do they owe us the same thing?
The other fascinating aspect? The varying levels of disdain for the Cheaty McCheatersons. Some of these guys are reviled, some are still revered. Most everyone agrees it's especially heinous to cheat on your dying wife. Sneaking out for quickies while your wife is getting her chemo treatment just speaks to a callousness that makes John Edwards the least sympathetic of the group. I believe azzhole behavior was expected of Arnie but to impregnate the wife and the side chick (who works in your home) at the same time adds an 'eww ick' element that is hard to get around.
Spitzer came across as such a Dudley Do Right that his fall from grace was shocking on a visceral level. Mark Sanford was just so whacktastic with his cheating. I mean his affair was a bad Lifetime Movie of the Week written by meth addicts. My goodness with the Latina lover, the long cheesy emails, the Appalachian trail? Dude, stop.
Clinton, well, his Oval Office slap-n-tickle was tragic because he lied about it (convincingly). One wonders what would have happened if he just said yeah, I did it, so what? What if Andrew Weiner had come forward and said that in a tequila-induced fugue state he twit-pic'd his privates to a random broad? Might he still be in office.
The downfall of these guys is no longer shocking. In fact, it's almost expected. One of the best shows on TV right now, The Good Wife, is centered around these very scenarios. These events are so commonplace, I wonder if we'll get to the point where we don't even care anymore. And what will that say about us?
I guess my question is - Should cheating on your wife automatically disqualify you for running for (or staying in) public office? [squinting hard at Newt] Or is it the lying that really does it? What makes one situation worse than the others? Do these public figures owe the public an apology? Should they step down? And what in the world do they do next? I'm curious to know your thoughts. The floor is yours...