June 25, 2009 at 8:06 pm (By Miles Lascaux)

Politics. Morality. Ambition. Marriage. Legality. Power. Responsibility. Hypocrisy. Religion.

The one thing our pundits lack the language to speak of is the one thing that would have mattered, in this story, to human beings from Sophocles to Stendhal: Passionate Erotic Love.


  1. Rod said,

    I assume you are talking about the latest Republican politician to fall into scandal. It brought to mind the first scandal I was old enough to notice in which the British Secretary of War, John Profumo, lied in Commons about his affair with a pretty showgirl, Christine Keeler. He had to resign.

    Now we have had so many revelations about politicians and their affairs that we are probably becoming numb to it. Knowing of Presidents Kennedy and Clinton’s infidelities in the White House and the more unusual stories about former Sen. Craig, Elliot Spitzer, et al, does anybody really care anymore?

    Should we care about the personal morality of our elected representatives?

    Most of us take a sacred vow in a marriage ceremony at some point. Probably half of us, or more, break it at some point. Not living up to our ideals is certainly common, but what does it have to do with the ability to govern?

    Perhaps we should look the other way and assume that marital fidelity is strictly a matter between husband and wife? I have to confess that, as a voter, I can’t quite bring myself to be totally unaffected by somebody’s personal indiscretions. These affairs never start out in broad daylight. They are concealed, and with concealment comes deception, and possibly blackmail.

  2. callimachus said,

    “That inspiring virtue preached in the beautiful prose of the Génie du christianisme is therefore merely abstention from truffles for fear of stomach-ache. This is a very reasonable proposition if one believes in hell-fire, but it is a proposition based on the most egotistical and prosaic self-interest. … It was simply to avoid being fried in a cauldron of burning oil in the next world that Madame de Tourvel resisted Valmont. I cannot imagine why the idea of being the rival of a cauldron of boiling oil did not turn Valmont away in disdain.

    … One of the most entertaining deluusions of men is the belief that they always know everything which it is unquestionably necessary for them to know. Listen to them talking politics, that complex science, or discussing marriage and society.”

    Stendhal, de l’amour, Chapter LVII

  3. Randy said,

    The most interesting thing about this latest personal scandal is this one is obviously still in love / infatuated with the other woman. Kudos to the wife not getting heavily sedated and standing next to him at the podium at his press conference.

  4. PatHMV said,

    We turn on politicians who fail our ideals because it’s human nature, Rod, and every bit as inherent in us, I think, as the passionate erotic love which gave rise (sorry) to this post. We’re social animals, not that different from our cousin apes and chimpanzees. We put alphas in position of dominance over us, because we need some sort of leadership structure to help us live together.

    But at the same time that we put those people there, we also resent it, at some level. We are jealous of their position and power, we are envious that they have what we don’t. So when we spot a weakness in the person we elevated, we attack, and very savagely. Then we put somebody else up, and the cycle starts all over again.

    It’s not necessarily a bad thing, either. If we didn’t make such strong attacks on the character defects we spot in those politicians, they would likely develop even more of a God complex than they already have.

    It’s not necessarily very rational (you’re right that it implies very little about their skills as a politician), but it’s very human.

  5. amba said,

    Stendhal made me LOL! For real! Right across the centuries!

  6. Rod said,


    George Stephanopoulos titled his book about the Clinton years, “All too Human.”

    The other thing that these scandals reveal is the expediency of our moralistic judgments. Whenever a politician has such a personal lapse, there is the tendency of his opponents to exploit it for partisan purposes. Hence, some Democrats are noting the hypocrisy of the most recent cheaters, Ensign and Sanford, given their prior moral posturing about Clinton’s affair. Feminists defend Ted Kennedy because they agree with his legislative agenda on their issues, even though his personal life is a prime example of the “objectification” of women.

  7. karen said,

    You know, Rod- i just figure that if a spouse will lie to their mate– chosen, sworn and for life(supposedly)– then who will they NOT lie to? I felt that about Clinton and his groping self and his dishonesty when confronted w/it. I feel that way now, too.

    That doesn’t mean that, if the people of SC(isn’t that his state?)decide to keep him as their Gov, then he shouldn’t stay. Ultimately, i feel it should be up to the people. They chose him to begin w/, not the partisan heavies who have much to gain from his departure. They won’t get a say, though.

    Life is pretty freaking depressing for a Conservative me, these days. I’m beginning to think t’would be wise to disconnect from all things non-farm and become an ignorant red-neck-ed hick again. Kinda like ~sins of omission~. What i don’t know can’t hurt me– and all that.

    I wish, but then- i’ve seen the view from this side of the info cycle. I cannot go back.

  8. rodjean said,

    My home state is Nevada. At the moment, we have a philandering Senator (Ensign) and a philandering Governor. (The stories on that are pretty wild, because he just went through a messy divorce while holding office.)

    Personally, I think the shabbiest actor in any of the recent infidelity scandals has been John Edwards. He was cheating on his dying wife while using her as a prop for his campaign.

    I am of two minds about cheating politicians. First, affairs are always accompanied by deception. Most people realize that cheating on their spouses will bring condemnation, and it is our human nature to hide things which make us look bad. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t have any higher opinion of somebody who humiliated his or her spouse by brazenly having an affair in public.

    Second, I believe the point you made that somebody who lies about one important thing will lie about other things, as well. However, I may be little more cynical than you. I believe most politicians lie routinely about all sorts of things. Politics is about saying what people want to hear, not speaking the truth.

    So, I assume my elected representatives are prevaricators, and the ones who are exposed are simply liars who have been caught.

    As for your Conservative depression, don’t give up hope. The massive stimulus boondoggles of the last few months by those who are lying to us about the economy will lead to either runaway inflation or stunning tax hikes in a couple of years. At that point, we will sour on the present administration and hand over the cookie jar to those who will lie to us about their commitment to family values.

    As it was 2000 years ago and will be until the last syllable of recorded time, if you seek the truth, don’t follow the side of the coin with Caesar on it.

  9. karen said,

    LOL!!! I’m not cheered by your honest evaluation… (Word) … but, i’m sure in a better mood for you delivery!!

    I wonder why we ~do~ this to ourselves: why do we choose these types of people to represent our best interests when it comes to big $$$$ and livable laws?? Where did we make that turn?

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