Consider the example of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. He had been expelled from college for paying someone to take his exams. His role in the death of a woman with whom he spent an evening would have sent almost anyone without his family name to prison -- or would have at least resulted in prosecution for negligent homicide. And he spent decades using so many women in so public a way that stories about his sex life were routinely told in Washington. Read the 9,000-word 1990 article in GQ by Michael Kelly, who a few years later became the editor of the New Republic.
When this unimpressive man started espousing liberal positions, speaking passionately about the downtrodden in society, it recalled the unimpressive students who marched on behalf of civil rights, peace and love.
It is quite likely that Ted Kennedy came to believe in the positions that he took. But I also suspect that he found espousing those positions invaluable to his self-image and to his public image: "Look at what a moral man I am after all." And liberal positions were all that mattered to the left and to the liberal media that largely ignored such lecherous behavior as the "waitress sandwich" he made in a Washington, D.C. restaurant with another prominent liberal, former Senator Chris Dodd.
In addition to knowing that liberal positions provide moral cover for immoral personal behavior, liberals know that their immoral behavior will be given more of pass than exactly the same behavior would if done by a conservative.
Women's groups provided Bill Clinton with enormous moral capital because he supported their feminist agenda. One leading feminist famously said she would be happy to get on her knees and pleasure Clinton thanks to his pro-choice position on abortion.
Conservative politicians have the same sex drive as liberal politicians, the same marital problems and the same ubiquitous temptations and opportunities. And some will therefore engage in extramarital sex. But every conservative politician knows that should he be caught, his positions on issues not only do not provide moral cover for his conduct, those very positions condemn it. There is no benefit to the conservative sinner in being a conservative. There is great benefit to the liberal sinner in being a liberal.
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”