Topic: Government & Politics
Thank you, Senator Ensign!
Thank you, Senator Ensign, for
so vividly illustrating to all (all who are willing to think about it,
that is) why adultery by elected officials is not “personal conduct,”
and thus only the concern of prudes, scolds, hypocrites, Republicans and
Ken Starr. The reason can be summed up in one word, and the word is “blackmail.”
Adultery and other supposedly private misconduct is devastating to families
and reputations, and the official who engages in these things risks giving
unscrupulous individual power over the official. The power may be used
to acquire money, or the power might be used to extract favors, political,
financial, regulatory or legislative.
It has been revealed that Ensign
paid out nearly $100,000 to the family of his mistress out of his private
funds. In a statement that must have been hard to craft with a straight
face, Ensign’s lawyers released this:
In April 2008, Senator John
Ensign’s parents each made gifts to Doug Hampton, Cindy Hampton, and two
of their children in the form of a check totaling $96,000. Each gift was
limited to $12,000. The payments were made as gifts, accepted as gifts
and complied with tax rules governing gifts.
Professionals of all kinds are
obligated to maintain independent judgement: they are supposed to make
decisions without influence from third parties, personal interests, and
those who do not have the best interests of their constituencies at heart.
Adultery, gambling debts, drug addiction, and kinky habits behind closed
doors create a two-stage threat to that independent judgement. All it
takes is for the secret to get out. Then that personal, private conduct
can have very public consequences.
It’s a simple standard. While you are an elected official with duties to the public, do not engage in any private conduct that you would not be willing to have made public. If you aren’t willing to sacrifice your love for dressing in diapers, or participating in orgies, or taking in cock fights, or romping with interns, fine: then don’t run for office. It can’t be such an ordeal to live the life of a Boy Scout for four years, or six, or eight, can it? If it’s such an ordeal, maybe this rule can help encourage term limits. But please---please!---let’s drop the fiction that extramarital sexual affairs are “private” when they involve our leaders. They have the potential of affecting us all, and are nothing of the sort.