Carol Platt Liebau

Must everything be about sex – or at least have a sexual component – these days? Remarkably, in the course of an interview for “60 Minutes,” Mike Wallace actually had the nerve to ask presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney whether he and his wife had engaged in premarital sex.

What with the Iraq war and Islamofascist terrorism, the twin threats of North Korean and Iranian nukes, health care, federal spending, and a host of other issues, one might think that Wallace would have other preoccupations than finding out what Mitt and Ann Romney did – or, more accurately, didn’t do – before they were married. In any case, the inappropriateness of the question boggles the mind.

Underlying the nature of the entire inquiry seems to be a “gotcha” game of the worst sort.

On the one hand, if it had turned out that the Romneys had, indeed, engaged in premarital sex, the Governor would be revealed as someone who is less-than-faithful to the tenets of his own religion – a hypocrite, in the eyes of some. And in a country where liberal groups like the Guttmacher Institute release studies assuring Americans that 95% of their countrymen engaged in premarital sex, sadly, a candidate who has chosen to follow a different course risks being perceived as slightly weird, perhaps even in thrall to some sort of alien doctrine.

It’s ludicrous to assert that Mormonism’s strict prohibition on premarital sex brought the question “in bounds,” given that Romney is the first Mormon to run for President. The Catholic Church likewise frowns on premarital sex. Is anyone planning to ask the Giulianis the same question? Of course not. And the United Methodist Church decrees that “sexual relations are only clearly affirmed in the marriage bond” – but would anyone quiz Methodist Hillary Rodham Clinton about her pre-wedding sexual escapades with (or without) Bill? Not a chance. And that’s in part because it’s understood (for better or worse) that many Catholics or Methodists will fall short of their churches’ teachings in certain areas. Why would, or should, a different standard obtain for Mormons, simply because Mike Wallace may not be as familiar with them and their beliefs?

Carol Platt Liebau

Carol Platt Liebau is an attorney, political commentator and guest radio talk show host based near New York. Learn more about her new book, "Prude: How the Sex-Obsessed Culture Hurts Young Women (and America, Too!)" here.