Mike the Mad Biologist

Commenting on John Edwards, Joe Klein makes two excellent points:

–Just about anyone under the age of 60 who has lived in this permissive society during the past 40 years, has done something that might be unfit for a Hallmark Greeting Card. In fact, I have profound qualms about any would-be politician who hasn’t allowed him- or herself a moment of untrammeled human or chemical exploration. I fear that the media have driven an awful lot of interesting people away from public service for reasons that would have seemed extreme to the second generation of New England Puritans.

–These sort of crapulous stories are next-door neighbors to the sleazy negative advertising that, well, John McCain has been accosting us with. They feed the notion that politicians are just a bunch of soulless, egomaniacal dolts without a high-minded–whoa, almost said bone in their bodies–pick your allusion. One of the worst results of the past 30 years of the Reagan pendulum swing is that the politicians-as-perverts meme fits quite neatly into the government-as-problem-not-solution meme. Given the problems we’re facing now, this is not where we want our national discourse to be.

Related to the first point, political puritanism also means that the only way to be scandal-proof is to have spent your entire life planning a run for office. This self-selects a very bizarre and dysfunctional group of people.

Of course, if we only elected unmarried politicians, this wouldn’t be an issue…


  1. #1 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    August 11, 2008

    So now that I am divorced, I am in the clear for run for office, right?

    Except that there are too many people who remember doing drugs with me.

  2. #2 llewelly
    August 11, 2008

    Actually, Klein misses the most important part of the story. I’ll quote commenter trifecta:

    The fact that McCain screwed around repeatedly on his crippled wife, then married a young rich heiress isn’t a big deal. He is a mavericky straight talker now and all. This would have killed a democrat. We know it.

    Recall that Newt’s affair was casually ignored by the media, while Bill was being prosecuted. I could go on and on all year.

    I really, really wish I could live my life without ever knowing anything about the sex lives of celebrities. But that’s a fantasyland attitude that ignores the fact that media will make every possible effort to crucify a democrat for an affair, and practically ignore any Republican affair that doesn’t involve homosexuality. It’s one of the many devices the media uses to help the Republicans win elections – and to remove democrats from office. (Note that Larry Craig still has his spot.)

  3. #3 Pierce R. Butler
    August 11, 2008

    So just about the only candidate “clean” enough to be elected is… Ralph Nader?

  4. #4 khefera
    August 12, 2008

    larry craig has his office because he hasn’t had to face reelection since the scandal broke and he refuses to resign you ignorant jackass. and last i checked, “the media,” whoever the fuck they are, don’t appoint or demote idaho senators by the same methods cardinals name popes.

  5. #5 llewelly
    August 12, 2008

    khefera, your strawman is missing a beat-up leather glove.

  6. #6 Joe
    August 13, 2008

    Keep in mind that with all the huffing and puffing about Bill Clinton’s sexual misbehavior he still left office with a high approval rating.

    The public isn’t quite as clueless as the press is about personal matters.

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