Yes, this has been done to death. And it would be easy enough just to say that I agree with quite a bit of what Megan McArdle has to say.
But I can't resist a few points:
1. A scandal, however petty and stupid, is a crisis. If a politician demonstrates utter incompetence in handling even a petty and stupid crisis, it's reasonable to question whether he'd be able to handle a more important one competently.
2. With political power comes vast temptation. Politicians have opportunities to do bad things for bad reasons in their official capacity, and their bad choices can have an impact on millions rather than just their family. If a politician demonstrates an inability to resist personal temptation — even when yielding to that temptation poses obvious and disproportionate dangers to his reputation and family — then I question whether he can resist temptations brought to bear in his official capacity.
3. If Anthony Weiner and his wife had an open relationship, I wouldn't criticize it. If Anthony Weiner and his wife had an understanding that he could send pics of his dick to coeds, I wouldn't care. However, if Anthony Weiner betrays his wife, then I don't trust him. I don't buy the notion that private and public fidelity are separate; I think it's reasonable to question whether someone who breaks his word to his wife may also break his oath of office. Does that make me judgmental? Maybe. I'm not saying I would shun anyone who committed adultery (of whatever sort). I'm not saying I'd stop being their friend. I'm not saying that I'd judge them evil. I'm certainly not saying I'd assert that because they committed adultery and I didn't that I'm a better human being than they are. I'm just saying that not everybody has to be given the launch codes or the Treasury's purse strings. Significant political power carries with it significant temptation and significant occasion for dishonesty, and that dishonesty can impact the many rather than the few. I'd rather people without a proven record of oath-breaking exercise it.
Last 5 posts by Ken White
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