By Nathan Rieder
The President of the United States of America, the most powerful man in the most powerful nation, the leader of the free world, the…philanderer?
In recent decades the American public has become increasingly concerned with the personal lives of our political leaders: caring more about what they do in their own homes than how they vote on important issues. It is part of a larger voyeuristic trend towards prying into the private lives of those in the public eye and holding them accountable – oftentimes unfairly so – for what we view to be their shortcomings. However, it is especially pernicious as applied to politics because it distracts the attention of elected officials and voters alike from issues that are of actual importance.
In my view, it started with Clinton. But that’s likely a product of my age rather than the actual facts. Nevertheless, he makes a good example. Some argue that extramarital affairs are indicative of larger moral lapses that are important for us to consider in a larger context. I’d argue that Bill’s obligations to Hillary have nothing to do with us, and it’s absurd that the American public seemed to care more about him straying from the bounds of his marriage than they did about any actual political issues.
Haven’t presidents been screwing around since the office was first created? And not even the bad one’s, either. Some of our most revered presidents had some pretty ridiculous affairs, but somehow they’re remembered for their accomplishments and charisma rather than a stain on a blue dress.
Good old TJ had interracial love children with Sally Hemmings, and that was before this sort of thing was fashionable. Benjamin Franklin was a notorious alcoholic and womanizer, but during the day he invented and delegated and helped to found our nation, so people remained unconcerned with his nighttime debauchery. And we can’t forget JFK; he had an extramarital affair with the hottest actress in Hollywood. She even sang him a sexy happy birthday at the White House while his family and friends stood by and watched. But somehow these men’s legacies remain relatively untarnished, as their constituents cared more about what they did for their country than who they did in their country.
Since the Clinton days, things have just gotten more sensational. The media loves outing politicians, whether it be for their secret homosexual orientation or extramarital affairs. Edwards, Gingrich, Gibbons, Guiliani, Newsome, Villaraigosa, McGreevey, Spitzer. Need I go on? Let’s stop worrying about what politicians are doing in the bedroom, and instead try to keep them in check in terms of their duties to the people and the offices they hold.