Friday, August 08, 2008

Adultery and the Presidency

Yesterday, as most of you probably know, Edwards finally admitted to adultery after repeatedly lying and denying it.

The two most interesting lines from his statement:

1. "When a supermarket tabloid told a version of the story, I used the fact that the story contained many falsities to deny it. But being 99% honest is no longer enough." Most public apologies contain cringe-worthy moments, but the line about 99% honesty is sad and tops all that I've seen. It illustrates the natural tendency in all of us to make things sound much better than they really are.

2. On the other hand, Edwards had a refreshing line of candor: "In the course of several campaigns, I started to believe that I was special and became increasingly egocentric and narcissistic." Few public apologies pinpoint pride as the source of the sin.

I don't think John Edwards ever had much chance of being elected President--but he was the VP candidate last time around, and he may have been on Obama's list.

It's somewhat commonplace to hear that marital fidelity or infidelity is essentially irrelevant as a qualificaiton for leading well as President. Marvin Olasky, however, disagrees. In World Magazine (published before Edwards's public admission), Olasky reminds us that we are nearing the 10-year annivesary of Bill Clinton's admission of adultery with Monica Lewinsky (Aug. 17, 1998).

Olasky believes that "adultery is generally a leading indicator of faithlessness to the nation. Throughout the 20th century small betrayals in marriage generally led to larger betrayals, and leaders who broke a large vow to one person found it easy to break relatively small vows to millions." Read the whole thing.