Friday, June 10, 2011

Perhaps the Word "Sexual" Doesn't Belong In The Question

I asked, "Do Sexual Ethics Matter in Politics" but, despite the tawdry details, when we're talking consensual acts between adults the voters seem to be pretty forgiving. Chase staffers around the office, solicit underage pages, pay for sex with minors, that sort of stuff? Often career-ending. The "I've made mistakes in my marriage"-level of misconduct? Despite the media interest in (presumably responding to a public appetite for) the tawdry details, on the whole voters seem to excuse it and move on.

Had Clinton said "I've made more mistakes in my marriage, am sorry for the pain I've caused, and the rest is between me and my wife," instead of "I did not have sexual relations with that woman", he would have saved himself and the country a great deal of turmoil. Had Mark Sanford announced that he was leaving his wife, instead of taking off with her to Argentina while having his aides cover up with a lie about his hiking the Appalachian trail, perhaps he would have survived his scandal. When you think about it, that makes sense: Your political career suffers the greatest harm when you lose your supporters, and the best way to do that is to lie to them, put them in the position of defending you, and having those who do come to your defense end up looking at best naive. And really, why should your supporters be expected to shrug off that treatment based upon the subject matter of your lie.

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