It set a bad precedent when Blunkett gave first-class train passes to his well-heeled mistress. Leaks that seemed to come from Quinn's friends suggested that Blunkett claimed paternity not so much to ensure access to the children but to hurt Quinn. Other stories reported that Blunkett drafted aides into the drama to negotiate with Quinn.
"Given that Blunkett's blind, besides his guide dog, he uses a lot of employees to do a lot of things," a sympathetic Mulholland noted. Certainly Blunkett's disability -- and his overcoming it -- makes him a more sympathetic figure. I saw him in Parliament with his dog Sophie and watched as fellow politicians went out of their way to show their support. Who wants to see a man who could conquer a serious disability be undone by a lonely heart?
Some political figures -- Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton -- invite glee when their peccadilloes spill out. Blunkett's story, on the other hand, is the stuff of unending discomfort.
On the one hand, no one wants to judge an accomplished man based on stupid things he did out of a desperate longing for love. And it's wrong to judge a man by one mistake.
But I'm not sure that the public should ignore the immorality of this episode. There is an ugly narcissism to the relationship, including Blunkett's fight to establish paternity.
Instead, many critics heaped scorn on cuckolded husband Stephen Quinn, who recently learned that the boy whose "nappies" he had been changing for two years may not be his biological son. For the rest of Quinn's life, snickers will trail him as he walks down the hall. There is no knowing how the lives of Quinn's children may change.
In a country obsessed with legislating kindness -- with rules to protect burglars from overzealous homeowners and inhibit "hate speech" -- voters ought to prefer politicians who recognize the human fallout of their actions.
Which makes me now wonder if there is too much sympathy for Blunkett. I don't want his scalp but wonder if it's healthy to hand him a halo.
Oddly, a new rash of stories could undermine predictions that Blunkett will survive as home secretary -- thanks to man's most dangerous organ, his big mouth. Blunkett made the mistake of dissing fellow Labor members of Parliament to his biographer and had to apologize when the remarks were aired. The criticism, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott told the BBC, revealed "an element of personal arrogance." Too true. It's the stuff of tragedy, personal and public.
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