Why sex scandals should not bar politicians from seeking office
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I believe sexual behavior should not bar a man or woman from high office once it is between consenting adults.
I’m not saying that Anthony Weiner’s sexual indiscretions should not count against him, but they should not be the only disqualifying factor.
If we denied office to every man or woman who displayed aberrant sexual behavior we would have lost out on some great leaders.
When you consider some of the great politicians of our times, mature sexual behavior was not high on the list.
Need I mention John F. Kennedy, who was reckless to the point of shamefulness, sleeping with mobsters molls, alleged spies and every pretty young thing he could get his hands on?
Yet as president, as he proved in the Cuban missile crisis, he was cool, calculating and not at all impulsive.
Ronald Reagan commenced an affair with Jane Wyman, his first wife, when she was still married and she later divorced her husband to be with him. Reagan rarely played the hypocritical card about sexuality that so many GOP leaders do today. (Remember Bob Livingston and Newt Gingrich carrying on affairs while leading the charge to impeach Clinton for the same activity?)
Then there’s Bill Clinton who looks better and better in the rear view mirror these days.
Like Kennedy he seemed to have an insatiable appetite for dubious women but governed very much from the center and was cool and calm in a crisis.
Then consider FDR, by any measure one of the greatest presidents, who had at least two mistresses and imbibed about eight to ten martinis a day. Yet he managed the New Deal, took America out of the depression, and helped win the Second World War among other accomplishments.
Consider that his adversary Adolf Hitler was vegetarian, conducted no affairs outside his relationship with Eva Braun and never imbibed.
On a far less notorious scale consider Jimmy Carter, arguably the most morally upright of all our presidents who was also one of the worst by most historians’ opinions.
So the moral of the story is do not draw any moral conclusions about leadership from politicians and their sex lives. Even Anthony Weiner looks better when judged by that standard.
Former presidential candidate for the GOP Texas senator Phil Gramm said it best in 1996.
Told by Focus on the Family president James Dobson to deliver on moral values, Gramm retorted: “I’m not running for preacher. I’m running for president.” How right he was.
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