Now, back to sex. Culture promotes all sorts of pre- and extramarital activity as exciting, even commonplace. So how is a high-profile public official to know what is tolerable and what is an offense that can lead to resignation, firing, or impeachment? Divorce is another matter, as most spouses don't tolerate adultery well.
Wouldn't it be helpful to have a guidebook? Are there separate guidelines for military and civilian personnel? Should it be tied to one's security clearance? If the secretary of agriculture, say, is engaged in an adulterous relationship, would that be a lesser offense than adultery by the CIA director, or the secretary of defense? Should one stay in office and the others resign?
What would Carrie Bradshaw advise?
WTOP radio in Washington has compiled a partial list of notorious Washington sex scandals for those interested (and you know you are).
My favorite is the story of Major General Daniel Sickles, a colorful antebellum politician and later Union general during the Civil War. In 1859, when he became aware of his wife's affair with Philip Barton Key, U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, Sickles ambushed Key in Lafayette Square, across from the White House, shooting and killing him in broad daylight in front of a dozen witnesses.
Sickles' attorney argued for acquittal based on "temporary aberration of mind." The jury agreed, Sickles was acquitted and went on to serve the Union bravely, winning a Medal of Honor.
Apparently, standards were a lot different then.