March 18, 2008

When did it become the rule...

... that politicians must confess to their extramarital affairs?

36 comments:

rhhardin said...

Soap opera need. It sells. The media will hype the rumor forever.

Confession forces the media to move on to another politician.

MadisonMan said...

TMI!

Yachira said...

...when the media started devoting almost all of their resources and attention to the issue.

Kevin said...

Perhaps we could make them send their confessions to Penthouse Letters?

AllenS said...

Surprisingly enough, it all started with a cigar.

SteveR said...

At one time the media would keep certain secrets, things like presidential affairs, undercover spy activities, invasion plans, etc. Now if you don't dig for it, and report it, someone else will. If you don't confess it, someone will reveal it.

Matt Brown said...

Even though he's blind, can it still be said that he has a "wandering eye?"

AllenS said...

Good point, Matt. He could have used the excuse that he couldn't see who it was.

joe said...

A smart move by Paterson. Since the other participants in the affairs may decide they could profit by the revelation, this preempts any damage.

Middle Class Guy said...

When it benefits them. He got an open secret out of the way. It happened, supposedly while he was separatd from his wife. They supposedly worked through it. Yada, yada, yada. No scandal there. Let's move on.

Pogo said...

Personal scandals have long been grist for the media and political mills.

Gail Collins details similar stories dating back to the founding of the Republic in in her book Scorpion Tongues, part of which you can read here.

An excerpt:
"If political gossip's impact on the target was measured only in votes, the roll call of victims would be relatively short. On the presidential level, it might start with failed candidate John Fremont, rumored to be everything from a Catholic to a cannibal. (The Catholic gossip was more harmful.) It would hit a peak with Grover Cleveland, who came within fourteen hundred votes of losing an election he should have won easily, because of rather improbable rumors about his sex life. It might touch upon Woodrow Wilson, who expected to do better in 1916 than a last-moment squeaker against an inept opponent. It would end (so far) with Gary Hart's ruined presidential campaign. But the more lasting effect has been in the way it changes the targets of the rumors. A politician whose private life is subjected to whispering campaigns or media debate almost always emerges wounded, whether he or she is president or the humblest member of a city council. Some late-nineteenth-century scholars thought the effects of gossip on Andrew Jackson led directly to the Civil War. Grover Cleveland, who was not a warm public figure before his great gossip ordeal, became even less so afterward. "Made a victim of slander, the butt of scandal, his life belied, his character assailed, his habits misrepresented, his life explored even into the corners and accounts of it distorted, the iron had entered the soul and it rankled," wrote a friend.

In 1993, Hillary Clinton had been through a campaign in which her own marriage had been explored even into the corners, and she came to Washington with an intense distrust of the press and other outsiders. The fact that the newspapers had published the lamp story, the suspicion that the rumors had been started by members of the Secret Service assigned to guard her, the general feeling that everyone was talking about her private affairs, must have increased her sense of being surrounded by enemies. Soon, her concern for privacy would help propel the White House into its series of first-term disasters, like Whitewater and Travelgate, that often appeared to be cover-ups in search of a scandal.

As President Clinton was preparing for what then looked like a tough reelection campaign in 1996, his beleaguered wife went back on television to talk about what was by then a three-year-old rumor. "I mean, you know I have a pretty good arm," she told Barbara Walters. "If I'd thrown a lamp at somebody, I think you would have known about it."



That's because it was a candy dish, but you get the point.

Rich Beckman said...

Confess preemptively or live in daily fear that today is the day someone will expose your actions to the world.

Perfection is the enemy of the good. As we insist on leaders with flawless histories, we discourage people who would otherwise be great leaders but who's personal resumes don't measure up.

Meade said...

With love, comes risk... with obsession, comes Damage...

With damage, comes damage control.

Michael_H said...

It's because having extra-marital affairs polls well among east and west coast voters.

Trooper York said...

David Patterson is a good man. I don't think we agree on anything, but he is a normal guy with normal problems who is reasonable. He had problems in his marriage, but they worked it out. It's much better to admit it and get past it. He is the kind of guy everyone can work with and get stuff done. As a politican, he is very honorable. He will stay bought. We can do bidness if you know what I mean.

Middle Class Guy said...

Trooper York said...
As a politican, he is very honorable. He will stay bought. We can do bidness if you know what I mean.


He would fit in real well here in Chicago!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

downtownlad said...

When they're Democrats. Republicans like Vitter are allowed to use hookers and people like Craig are allowed to disturb people's privacy in bathrooms.

But Democrats are not allowed to have affairs, or it will be blasted on Drudge as the biggest story of the day.

Me thinks it is time to start asking McCain if he's every had an affair. Fair is fair.

Pogo said...

people like Craig are allowed to disturb...

Except for that resignation stuff, and the guilty plea and the televised humiliation night after night, I suppose that statement might be true, but only if 'true' means 'false'.

DTL serves to remind me how frail is the human mind, and how easily it becomes blinded by ideology.

Trooper York said...

"He would fit in real well here in Chicago!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

That's why I am not so worried if Obama wins. He knows how to go along to get along. Business as usual. It will be big surprise for the Koz kids and the nutty professors and the rest of the "reality based community."

Mortimer Brezny said...

He was blinded by passion.

downtownlad said...

Oh right Pogo - that's why Craig is an EX-senator.

NOT.

That's why Republicans have removed him from the party.

NOT.

Meanwhile - every right wing blog today is acting shocked, SHOCKED that a politician had an affair.

Name me ONE Republican senator who called on Vitter to resign. Name me ONE prominent right-wing blogger who called for Vitter to resign.

You're a pompous ignoramous doufus Pogo. And still an anti-gay bigot.

downtownlad said...

Vitter had sex with a prostitute while he was in diapers.

Pogo thinks having sex with prostitutes while in diapers is cool.

To each his own.

downtownlad said...

Here's Glenn Instapundit (my wife thinks gay people are sickos who need to be cured) Reynolds on this topic.

http://instapundit.com/archives2/016665.php

Yup - Craig and Vitter are so "conveniently" omitted from his comment.

Pogo proved wrong again.

former law student said...

Was I the only one who looked at their picture and thought, "How did the Gov know he was getting a hot chick?"?

Nowadays, people in the public eye do need to dig up their own dirt. That way they can control the time of the revelation (as far before the next election, etc., as possible), and that way they control the spin placed on it (insofar as that is possible. A Mark Foley's texting teenage boys about how hot they look in their underpants is pretty much unspinnable.)

Pogo said...

DTL, it demostrates how unimportant Craig is when I thought he had in fact resigned. He's still there? Ha! How can you tell?

His decision I suppose. I don't think Spitzer is being forced to resign either, so why is he doing so? More, since Craig was seeking a gay rendezvous while Spitzer stuck with the home team, why aren't you decrying the illegalization of gay sex trolling? Seriously, I would have thought you'd be all "they're after Craig 'cause he's gay" but you're all "he propositions guys!!!! (ick!!!)" instead.

I don't get it.

Zeb Quinn said...

"When did it become the rule..."

Since Gary Hart. Before Gary Hart it didn't seem to matter too much unless the pol killed the mistress, and even then not so much.

And DTL seems to be dialed into an inside source that keeps him fully informed and really up to date on the detailed minutia of the sex lives of the repubs. You go boy!

Middle Class Guy said...

Gee, DTL is in full throttle, foaming at the mouth, rabies, hatred mode today. He is blinded by reality and his overblown obsession with “gay rights”.

There is a diference and it has nothing to do with Republicans or Democrats. Eliot Spitzer, unlike the others, used and abused his positions to persecute and destroy the lives of people. He also prosecuted major prostitution rings. He was an absolute moral crusader and like most of that ilk, he had no morals. He received the same treatment he dished out to others. What is fair is fair. He was treated equally and equitably.

Take some meds dude and see the reality of the situation.

dick said...

I think it is a smart move. He takes the option right off the table and there is nothing that can be tied to him about it at all. Anytime anyone tries to bring up the issue, he can say already discussed that, next??

I also like that he is a reasonable man. He will make a pretty good governor if he has good advisors. I just hope people don't try to trade on his blindness to get him to support things he really doesn't by manipulating him.

Ann Althouse said...

dtl: "Here's Glenn Instapundit (my wife thinks gay people are sickos who need to be cured) Reynolds..."

You know that's completely dishonest yet you still say it. We've been through that before, and you were plainly shown to be wrong. How dare you say that here again? You are flaunting your dishonesty and disrespecting ME for the effort I made demonstrating that you were wrong the last time you said that. You are wasting my time and slandering Helen. Shame on you. I don't feel like looking up the old thread where I took the time to go through all this with you. How dare you impose on me like this? You are a dishonest, disreputable person, dtl.

Ann Althouse said...

Here's the old thread I'm referring to. I took the time to look it up out of respect for Helen Smith, who actually participated in the thread and defended herself. Downtownlad was completely proved to be wrong in that old thread, so I encourage anyone who doesn't already know to go back and read that.

Beth said...

Last week, the Republican National Congressional Committee called on Democrats who'd received contributions from Spitzer to return them. This same committee did not issue a similar call to the congresspeople (Collins, Coleman, Domenici) who received money from Larry Craig or the much longer list of GOP recipients of Vitter's PAC largesse (including the so-called ethics golden boy, our new governor Bobby Jindal.)

There are, however, Republicans calling for Vitter's resignation, at least here in the state, but so far, none of them are high-ranking, just some of the talk radio and political pundits. Meanwhile, we pay the price. The guy's useless in the Senate.

Hey said...

DTL is seriously deranged on this. Beyond going after Glenn's wife - never mind that he regularly reaffirms his support for gay marriage - he insinuates that Insta is in the tank for the Republican Senate. Yeah, Mr. I got Trent Lott kicked and I go after all of the pork barreling crooks that prefer their pork to winning elections, is a huge supporter of disgraced Republican Senators.

Look here, how he supports Larry Craig http://instapundit.com/archives2/009831.php "PRE-GAMING TOMORROW'S Larry Craig hearing. Can't he just resign?" Don't you see how that is a Rovian plot to ensure that Craig keep his seat?

He the demonstrated how much he loved Vitter by saying that rather than apologizing, he should change the law in DC to make prostitution legal.

As for Republican support of Craig, let's see Michelle Malkin. OK DTL finish getting your garlic and crucifix. She just looooves Craig so much and supported him through thic and thin. Why look here http://michellemalkin.com/2007/10/04/larry-e-craig-will-you-please-go-now/
note how she uses such saccharine term of endearments "Here’s the crapweasel’s statement on his website." I could only wish for such staunch defenders.

Or maybe the fact is that DTL is a delusional, prevaricating leftist who won't even acknowledge when others agree with him. The VRWC doesn't want these idiots in office - the vast majority are from the corrupt go-along-get-along wing of Congress, while the few with decent principles make themselves useless as agents of change by their pecadilloes.

I despised Spitzer and all his works, though I loved his attacks on the corrupt entrenched system of Albany and was hoping for mutual annihilation. Any chance of him making any change evaporated when the Feds called him and his supporters should have been (and mostly are) the most vociferous in their denunciations.

Leaders don't need to be perfect, they just need to be saints while in office. It's not exactly hard (or at least it shouldn't be) to keep your exploits locked down for the few years where you are in an executive position. Legislators have longer careers, but if they can't hew to the very laws that they make, then what use are they? Legislators get free passes on moral transgressions (well, mostly, Gingrich went away after his affair, but he was in a quasi executive position anyways) and just need to not break the law. If that's too hard for them, then they should just go into drug dealing or some other honest crime.

Middle Class Guy said...

Dr. Helen is a forensic psychologist. DTL is?

Pogo said...

DTL is?

DTL
1. n. [cf "downtownlad"] A mendacious and irrational loon, not worth reading. Sprays his "Gay Hater" epithet everywhere regardless of merit. synonym see 'Moron'

2. Mathematical symbol.
DTL + empathy + intellect - blind hatred = [0.0001 x √(Palladian - Wit - Verve - Wisdom - Love)]

reader_iam said...

When did it become the rule...
... that politicians must confess to their extramarital affairs?


I blame Jimmy Carter and his confessing the adultery of his heart. Ever since, it seems as if the lustgates have been stuck wide open, with all sorts of muddy waters churning through, ceaselessly whipped up by mighty winds.

reader_iam said...

Remember that Playboy interview? The relevant excerpt:

Because I'm just human and I'm tempted and Christ set some almost impossible standards for us. The Bible says, "Thou shalt not commit adultery." Christ said, I tell you that anyone who looks on a woman with lust has in his heart already committed adultery. I've looked on a lot of women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times.... This is something that God recognizes, that I will do and have done, and God forgives me for it. But that doesn't mean that I condemn someone who not only looks on a woman with lust but who leaves his wife and shacks up with somebody out of wedlock. Christ says, don't consider yourself better than someone else because one guy screws a whole bunch of women while the other guy is loyal to his wife. The guy who's loyal to his wife ought not to be condescending or proud because of the relative degree of sinfulness.

See?!?

; )