Cain, Infidelity and the Right

It has been pretty difficult to get the slumbering media masses to do in-depth reporting on sexual indiscretions of Democrats such as President Clinton, Jesse Jackson, Barney Frank, Alcee Hastings, John Edwards and others. Digging up licentiousness on liberals can be tough. A guy pretty much has to sext nude photos of himself before the media will take notice. But even then it takes a bit of coaxing.

And maybe the women who target Democrats are gold diggers and don't deserve to have their stories heard. Maybe this is what you get when you "drag a hundred-dollar bill through a trailer park." (Why the leaders of the party of compassion and nuance are dragging hundred-dollar bills through trailer parks is another question for another day.)

Although, when you have allegations against a Republican, you need to run with the story - no matter how vague it is. Even if you don't feel you are on firm ground. As James Taranto noted:
Anonymous sources told Politico that unnamed women alleged that Cain said unspecified things and made unspecified gestures to them sometime before the turn of the century. The only available fact is that the complaints led to a legal settlement, which included a confidentiality agreement, so its details are unknown.
Of course the media is biased. Only unquestioning zealots and manipulators feign shock at the idea. But, the media would not make a big deal out of these allegations if there wasn't an audience. And the audience they are playing to is the religious right.

When those on the right ask questions like "If a man cannot keep his marital vow, then how can we be sure he'll keep his oath of office?", the left leaning media knows it has lethiferous gold in a story like Cain's.

The question posed above presumes that infidelity is indicative of governing. It is a silly notion, but many on the right believe that dalliance is the litmus test that precludes any good or decent governing. The trouble is, reality just doesn't comport with this test.

It would be hard to argue that all the good that was done by Martin Luther King, Jr. should be dismissed because he had extramarital affairs. To dismiss all of his goodness because he was - shock of all shocks - human, is stupid. As noted at thegrio:
A great man is not defined by his weaknesses, but by his strengths. Regardless of what Dr. King may have done during the course of his marriage, those actions are almost completely disconnected from the manner through which he inspired billions with his courage and led people of color to the life we share today. It is our fault, not his, that Dr. King has been placed on a pedestal so high that we've forgotten that he was human.
(Of course, this is a generalized statement and there are "weaknesses" that are so significant as to overwhelm any "strengths" a person may have. A man who kidnaps, rapes and kills a 9 year-old girl and buries neighbors alive can spend as much time as he wishes at the soup kitchen. His actions are so reprehensible that they cannot be undone by random acts of kindness. These are all matters of degree. A serial philanderer is quite different than a person who is flirtatious or who had a one night stand.)

Clearly, philandering did not affect MLK's moral compass on matters of racism. Can we be happy that in spite of his own humanity he lifted the rest of mankind on his shoulders and carried them to a better place?

Similarly, did Rudy Giuliani handle the tragedy of 9/11 expertly in spite of his wolfishness? Should Jews have refused Oskar Schindler's help because he moonlighted?

The idea is preposterous and those on the right do a disservice by using this as a litmus test. All adultery tells us is that these men were sinners and far from perfect. However, they did some pretty good things in spite of their fallen nature. Even God allowed King David to continue after his Bathsheba episode where he even went so far as to send her husband off to war to be killed.

It fails in the other direction as well. By all accounts, President Carter was a sterling husband. However, his leadership and policy decisions were about as far removed from the religious right's values as one can imagine. And his post-Presidential behavior has been boorish at best and borders on racist.

And where does this stop? Should a candidate be eliminated because he didn't honor the Sabbath or his mother and father? How about coveting the neighbor's house? If a Jew should eat bacon, does that render him an economic imbecile and therefore unfit to be President? Clearly smoking marijuana no longer precludes presidential aspirations. (Again, a matter of degree. A nightly doobie roast is rightly judged differently than a college foray. And whether marijuana is a gateway drug or not, it is not heroine or meth. Nobody worries whether their airline pilot smoked pot in college. Irresponsible behavior in the past does not necessarily prevent critical thinking, decision making or responsible behavior when one is older.)

The religious right needs to realize that they are not voting for pastor, rabbi, monk, priest or pope. They should be voting for a man or woman to govern the nation in accordance with its Constitution, certain values and with a particular economic vision.

Of course we all expect decent and honorable behavior and nobody is asking to throw out all expectations. But there is no reason to demand that a presidential candidate be as pure as the wind driven snow. Many good and decent people have stumbled or engaged in youthful or imprudent pursuits. And this moral myopia will only prevent many good people from seeking the nation's highest office and will result in a far worse nation for all.

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