In as many weeks, two successful, well-positioned (no pun intended—really!) politicians have been forced to admit to extramarital affairs which now threaten to end their careers, embarrass their families and supporters, and drive up the already high cynicism Americans have about politicians. These two, one a Senator the other a Governor are both Republicans, but the GOP does not have a monopoly on this self destructive behavior. Democrats too at high levels have had the same “what was I thinking” moment of truth after it was too late.
Why can’t our politicians keep their pants zipped?
Perhaps, they think they can get away with it. Maybe no one will notice. Those close to them probably won’t tell. The wife will never find out. All that denial stuff that never works but continues to be tried over and over and almost always results in tragedy.
Perhaps it’s a feeling of power and the higher up the ladder they climb the more insulated they get from the values that got them there. Perhaps it happens because in the rare air of leadership no one tells them to their face that they are about to get themselves in really big trouble—and they think they are too powerful to get caught.
Perhaps it is some complex psychological death wish—living close to the fire believing you won’t get burned. Maybe it’s a way of putting an end to the shallow life they live in Washington, or Charleston or Albany or wherever— a kind of political suicide by adultery.
America needs leaders we can trust and look up to right now in the worst way. We need people who have their wits about them and put their responsibilities to family, duty to country, and honor first. The firestorm of political gossip will have their way with each of them, they may deserve this trial by fire, but the Nation is poorer for it. We should take no joy in their downfall, but behavior has consequences and bad behavior like theirs often hurts others as much or more as it does the guilty.
We may forgive them their bad behavior, but it isn’t sufficient recompense for the harm done.