July 02, 2009
Your candidate's adultery is worse than mine!
Speaking of adultery (which almost everyone agrees is bad) I'm wondering whose adultery is worse -- Mark Sanford's or Newt Gingrich's. I realize that I'm not the only one asking, but the question was just sort of thrown in my face earlier as I read yet another strong online moral condemnation of the eminently condemnable Mark Sanford, only to see Newt's mug staring at me from an ad placed right smack in the middle of the text I was reading.
Hey wait a second! I wondered. Newt had an affair, right? How come he gets to run for president and Mark Sanford not only shouldn't, but the latter should be kicked to the curb?
Are some adulteries more immoral than others? Actually, yes. When Tom Delay discussed his adulterous affair in his book, he specifically said it was less immoral than that of Newt Gingrich:
The difference between his own adultery and Gingrich's, he said, "is that I was no longer committing adultery by that time, the impeachment trial. There's a big difference." He added, "Also, I had returned to Christ and repented my sins by that time."So because Mark Sanford's affair is more recent (even if he has cut it off), he's still a lot guiltier than Tom or Newt.
While there is a certain logic to the proximity in time argument, 2012 is still a ways off. But the problem I'm having is with the argument that adultery should be a disqualification from office, but only for some candidates.
MORE: Commenting below, TigerHawk raises an interesting point about prostitution:
Eliot Spitzer tried to claim that routinely patronizing prostitutes was less bad than what Sanford did, because he did not fall in love. We took a light-hearted poll on the subject, and our readers see it quite the other way.Unfortunately for the purpose of polling, this issue is so hopelessly contaminated by the partisan political considerations (as well as Spitzer's personal dishonesty and his background in prosecuting prostitutes) that it's tough to get a reading of how people might feel if polled in a politically neutral manner.
As I observed in reply to TigerHawk, many Victorian women used to consider prostitution a necessary evil. Have evolved in our thinking to a better, cleaner world in which loveless sexual cheating is more evil than sexual cheating with someone who is loved? Has sex ceased to be a matter of getting one's rocks off? Common sense would suggest to me that while cheating on a spouse is bad, loveless cheating would be less of a threat, and thus better.
But that's just me. How about a poll?
If you don't like being polled on this issue, don't blame me! It was TigerHawk's fault -- for being a bad influence and creating a light-hearted poll climate!
AFTERTHOUGHT: Looking at that poll, it occurs to me that women and men might answer the questions very differently.
Also, I revised the poll to change "It would make no difference at all" to "It would make no difference at all as both are equally wrong."
posted by Eric on 07.02.09 at 08:35 AM
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