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Where’s the line between private life and public office?

Categories: Career, Working? Living?

1 comment

The news of Herman Cain’s latest sexual scandal has caused the candidate to “reevaluate” his campaign and split the internet into three main groups: those who think he cheated on his wife with Ginger White for 13 years, those who think White is out for a little quick cash, and those who are so sick of politics that they’ve tuned out of the 2012 election race even before it’s really begun.

Personally, I’m… starting to wonder where the line is between a possible politician’s private life and his (or her) bid for public office.

Before anyone makes this a Democrat-vs.-Republican issue by pointing out that Clinton was impeached for his personal indiscretions, a quick reminder: He was impeached for perjury and for obstruction of justice, not for dallying with his intern, and he was still a candidate when Gennifer Flowers started talking about their decade-plus-long affair. It didn’t stop him from winning the Oval Office.

John F. Kennedy was famous for his extramarital activities. Franklin D. Roosevelt had a longstanding love affair with his wife’s social secretary, Lucy Mercer. Lyndon Johnson supposedly had a harem-like group of girlfriends on the side. Our founding fathers were no saints, and even Reagan, who was famously faithful to Nancy, still had a bit of controversy clinging to him, since he was the first President of the United States to have been divorced.

And yet… for the most part, they’re seen as good men and strong politicians, in spite of the fact that some of their flings would clearly be called sexual harassment today.

So do Cain’s encounters indicate ineptitude in political office? Or are they a private matter between him and his wife, unrelated to his run for office?

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One comment so far...

  • Well, I could (of course) go on and on about the political aspects of this. I will restrain myself (unless someone else starts, LOL).

    I really am not well plugged into what’s going on nowadays. Too busy to read up on most news. But from what I have seen, it seems that these matters are all “allegations” at this point.

    To me, the question is, do Americans know how to think about how to choose the best candidate for President? I know the media (both sides) has a pattern of digging up dirt on whoever is rising in the polls. Hopefully everyone knows, at least intellectually, that just because someone makes an allegation doesn’t mean it’s true. And just because a politician denies it sure doesn’t prove it’s false. And hopefully most folks understand that a relatively minor incident that occurred decades ago is irrelevant to the election, unless the candidate is proven to be lying about it. But honestly, I think a lot of Americans are swayed by stuff that they know intellectually does not impact how a president does his job.

    To me, honesty is big. I don’t really care what the allegation is - if the politician is caught in a lie, he’s a liar, and he’ll lie about anything for gain. Or, he’s a fool and insults our intelligence as well as our morals. Such a person is pretty much guaranteed to break campaign promises and have a hidden agenda. I don’t care how charismatic he sounds.

    Marital indiscretions - the question is whether he would let that affect his work. BC was proven to be on a national security call while receiving unpaid services from ML. I don’t see how that could not be said to be relevant to the job! Anyone else caught doing that at work would be packing up his personal items post haste. Same comment about JJ paying hush money to the mother of his illegitimate kid, not out of his own money. But having had an affair outside of work and, when the press brings it up, admitting it, or saying it’s none of their business? That would not distract me from the big campaign issues. I would not see that as a reason why the politician could not be trusted to manage US national security, tell the truth, and follow the political principles on which he’s campaigning.

    SKL  |  December 1st, 2011 at 8:01 pm