There is a right to Privacy. There is no right to Hypocrisy.
-Congressman Barney Frank
Everyone has a right to their own privacy. Nobody deserves to have their personal lives, personality, character, and morals judged and analyzed by people who either don’t know them, have never met them, or hardly know them.
Politicians are people. As people, they also deserve that basic right. When choosing to vote for them, most Americans have never met them, and the journalists who cover their campaigns, policies, and careers have also either never met them or hardly know them.
A majority of Americans do want their leaders to be decent people. An American voter votes on a candidate on faith, because they believe that candidate will do everything within their power to make their lives better. American voters, for the most part, want their leaders to be in Politics as Public Servants who believe in Public Service and Social Advocacy as a way to help others. It is, in fact, about “Putting People First.” The same can perhaps be said of Police officers, Surgeons, and others whose professions affect people’s lives. A Surgeon saves lives, and a Police officer protects lives. A politician can affect lives in many different ways, depending on what policies they implement, bills they sign into law, legislation they write, or what message they publicly send to the world.
Politicians are supposed to be Public Servants. And a person who serves the people tries to help those people. By extension, a person who helps others is generally considered to be a good person.
That being said, people, and most especially good people, can be complicated people with successes and failures. It is unfair to judge them solely on their failures and foolish to judge them only on their successes. And sometimes, good people can make mistakes and have problems in their personal lives. In case you haven’t noticed, shit happens.
That is why a politician’s personal life should never be aired in public. That is why there should be a basic right to privacy and that right should not be violated.
The examination of Politician’s personal lives started in the late eighties, with the emergence of reactionary right wing “values voters” that picked and chose Bible Verses to advance bigotry against women, gays, racial minorities, joy, laughter, and other blasphemous ungodly characters. They found a home with Movement Conservatives in the early 1990’s. And, as David Brock writes in his memoir, Blinded By the Right:
their judgments consisted of, “…making accusations with no proof, and of using ill-defined issues of ‘judgment’ and ‘character’ to discredit opponents based solely on alleged personal behavior. Sexual McCarthyism had been introduced into modern right-wing politics.”
These “Family Values” nutjobs and their allies in the media have an interesting way of judging elected officials’ personal lives. As John at LR states:
The bible literalists who spend many a happy hour bashing gays because of a few bible verses are mighty forgiving of Conservative adulterers as Joe Conason rightly points out. The biblical punishment for adultery is death by stoning. I have yet to see a right winger pitch at stone at Newt, Sanford, or Ensign. But say “Lewinsky” to one of them and watch them froth. I guess I don’t have the translation of the bible that includes the phrase “Forgive the Republicans but keep on trashing the Democrats with all the invective at your command.”
And maybe I am just being immature and completely juvenile about this (okay, I am) but the Big Dawg just got a couple of bl*wj*bs (granted, the Big Dawg’s sex scandal was a lot more fun, because there were characters like Linda Tripp and Lucciane Goldberg and Kenn Starr and other weirdos involved. Like a soap opera!). Sanford has recently been caught in a one-year affair with a chick from Argentina, and after lying about it to his wife, she caught him, and he actually asked her permission to go see his Mistress. Newt Gingrich, the coolest Conservative evah who will totally run for President and beat Palin in the Primaries! gave his wife divorce papers while she was on her death bed, then cheated on his second wife while he was calling Liberals “decadent” and “sick” and routinely sniffing through the Clintons’ panty drawers. Vitter, another Clinton Condemner, was caught with prostitutes. Larry Craig voted for the Federal Marriage Amendment, and he tried to boink a guy in a bathroom stall. The list goes on. In fact, I have a list!
Since 1998 there has been an average of two sex scandals a year. There are twenty four in my list. Fourteen involve Republicans and ten involve Democrats. And, as Joe Conason says
the worst that a conservative must anticipate is a stern scolding, followed by warm assurances of God’s forgiveness and a swift return to business as usual.
The hilarious thing is that Right Wingers don’t even notice the double standard or the blatant hypocrisy. Just spend a few minutes reading the comments at Hillbuzz, which has pretty much been taken over by Reactionary Republicans, and you would come away believing that all Democrats are the most lewd, immoral, promiscuous cretins in the Universe. But mention Vitter, Sanford, or Ewing and you will get nothing but crickets.
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