Thursday, June 25, 2009
I've been busy, which accounts for the transporting superficiality of my posts recently, so I have not bothered with Mark Sanford's cry for Argentina (massive blog round-up). I am, however, newly sensitive to this point: In matters of the heart, acts that others might judge as immoral or foolish do not necessarily reflect fundamental or pervasive defects in character or intelligence. Perhaps they usually do not. So, yes, I agree with Andy McCarthy, both on the morality of the matter and in the utilitarian consequences, to wit:
If the Colson standard is going to be the standard, two things — both bad — happen. First, good people are going to refrain from public life because they are not going to put their loved ones through the ringer the Colson standard invites (the standard that encourages the media and our ideological adversaries to scorch the earth since a single flaw is sure to derail the career of a talented conservative). Second, the people who will be most wounded by this state of things are conservatives: The Left does not impose the same standards and its most talented people needn't fear being marginalized by their human flaws. We will be ensuring that they get their best team on the field and we don't.
Of course, your results may differ.
The political game has been rigged against conservatives for a very long time. The last thing the liberals want is an free and open debate based on issues. If Sanford had gotten the same protection from the media that John Edwards got for years we wouldn't be having this conversation.
"In matters of the heart, acts that others might judge as immoral or foolish do not necessarily reflect fundamental or pervasive defects in character or intelligence. Perhaps they usually do not."
Is this your personal opinion or is this view sustained by some evidence?
Sounds like "I cheated, but I'm not a cheater"
A wealthy man invites a woman to sleep with him and offers her $1,000,000 as inducement. She overcomes her initial surprise and begins to think about what this inducement could provide for her. She sheepishly agrees.
The wealthy man then asks if she will sleep with him for $10. The insulted woman replies "what do you think I am"
To which the propsoer replies "we have already established what you are, we are now simply haggling over price"
The Republicans have set themselves up for this. People of faith certainly have a place in government, and while not religious myself I actually give bonus points to those who are. But the Republicans say that being religious makes them better as our representatives. When they fail to meet that standard they're exposed as hypocrites. At least in Sanford's case it was over a woman and a genuine affair of the heart.
When I see a Protestant televangelist, I say an even bet that he's a closet whoremonger or worse. I now put the same odds on Republican candidates who put their religion front and center. Render unto Caesar, indeed.
Elements of the Republican party make faith a litmus test for national office. You've got to pretend to be the right kind of Protestant -- or "close enough" -- genuflect and kiss the ring. Our founding fathers would be appalled.
Sanford actually seems like a genuine stand up guy, and not a closet freak. I don't really know from the guy, but we may have a lost a good one.
I think there is a basic political reality that if a good chunk of your party is made up of people who take the issue of marital fidelity very seriously (based at least partly on religious belief), then leaders of that party should understand that infidelity has career consequences.
The fact that those in the other party delight when affairs of the heart are brought to light and leaders are hoisted on their own petard is at once an understandable (if juvenile) reaction to perceived hypocrisy and an expression of relief that the same standards do not apply to them (unless it involves hookers that have previously been prosecuted).
I do think it is possible to step out on your marriage and still be honest in your professional life (this is the Clinton compartmentalization defense). The parctical problem is that if you are an elected politician and an important executive officeholder, having that secret leaves you open to blackmail.
If your underlying point is that we are all fallen, and that one mistake does not doom us to live a bad life or to have a bad eternity, then it is likely that you have read some of the New Testament.
Anon 11:18 -
I suppose the point is that certain things are more useful touchstones for character generally than other things. I am far more willing to generalize about the character of somebody who lies in his business dealings than who decieves others, or himself, in matters of the heart. I think that history reveals that people who fall in love will do things that would surprise even themselves So, yes, moral relativism, if that's the tag you want to hang on it.
Tyree writes: "If Sanford had gotten the same protection from the media that John Edwards got...."
well, actually he did get a pass from the media. His homestate paper received copies of the personal e-mails between him and his paramour in December and chose to do nothing with them. It was only after he confessed to having the affair that they published them.
BTW, the e-mails were forwarded to the newsapaper from Sanford's own e-mail address so someobody inside his office knew about the affair last year and wanted to expose him.
Rudy Giuliani was a bad father and an even worse husband (to second wife Donna Hanover). Wife #3 is a horrorshow gold digger. Rudy got his first marriage annulled by the Catholic Church because he was shocked to learn that wife #1 was his cousin. Rudy's dad was a felon and a Mob enforcer.
Rudy never ran as a paragon of personal virtue, and no one in NYC cared -- that's the way it should be, within reason.
Last comment on Rudy from Link, don't meant to be Anon
Also a clarification. In my experience, genuinely religious people usually have a sense of humility about their goodness. I don't mean to imply that professed people of faith are often closet weirdos -- quite the contrary. For me, it's just the televanglists and politicians who are suspect.
"Rudy got his first marriage annulled by the Catholic Church because he was shocked to learn that wife #1 was his cousin."
LOL. Oh please. Rudy may have told the Catholic Church he was shocked but he knew his first wife was his second cousin. They grew up together.
FWIW, Rudy was the laughing stock of NYC his last year in office. His wife threw him out of Gracie Mansion, he was living with two gay guys and details of his divorce proceeding belonged on the front page of the National Enquirere. Before 9/11 he couldn't have been elected dog catcher.
You miss my point. Of course Rudy knew wife #1 was his cousin. Rumor has it he was a big philanderer all along. But Rudy never ran on being a great Christian. No one in NYC cared about hise personal peccadilloes the first two times he got elected.
Having watched up close the toll this type of thing took on my sister and her children when my ex-brother-in-law ran off with his secretary, I really don't have much patience with a guy who spent Father's Day with his mistress.
It _is_ interesting to watch the difference in media response between this and Edwards, however.
Having the leaders of one's party be self-righteous about the immorality of marital infidelity sets up their compatriots for a fall; it's not a double standard (usually) being employed when liberals delight in such downfalls, it's pointing out the hypocrisy of pretending to be holier-than-thou. Chill out about sex and sexuality, stop acting like the party known (rightly or wrongly) for trying to impeach over marital infidelity, and perhaps we can get somewhere.
"trying to impeach over marital infidelity"
The myth that will never die.
Clinton was impeached for obstruction of justice and perjury. Not for marital infidelity.
Not to defend the eventually assinine Republican crusade, but we should treat with the facts.
"True, he (Edwards) was merely a former Senator and serious candidate for President. I don't see much difference, actually."
Well, for starters the taxpayers weren't paying John Edwards salary at the time of his infidelity, nor was the government paying for his boondoggles to get laid.
Edwards was worse -- he put himself in the national spotlight by running for President while simultaneoulsy spawning a two-headed love child. He affected the course of the campaign and may even have influenced the outcome -- it could have played even worse had he been a contender until the end. What if he had gotten the nomination? Edwards had to know that revelation was always near.
And Sanford didn't put himself in the national spotlight? Pppffttt. Mark Sanford was under consideration for VP slot with McCain. He even told his lover in one of his e-mails in July 08 that he was spending the weekend with MCain on "the VP thing again." Sanford had to know too that "revelation was always near" yet he didn't take himself out of the running.
Why do you feel the need to measure Sanford's indiscretion against Edwards? Or anyone else's for that matter? Does it make Sanford's action less egregious in your mind? Interesting. I'm sure Sanford's wife views the same way. Not.
Not making excuses for Sanford -- just reacting to the idea that Edwards wasn't technically "in office" and should get a pass.
Which begs the question -- do you have to be fundamentally mentally unsound to be Presidential timber?
do you have to be fundamentally mentally unsound to be Presidential timber?
No, but you do have to have an ego bigger than Texas. It's pretty easy for an ego that size to slide over into delusions of omnipotence (heh) in terms of what you're entitled to do and what you can get away with.