Question: Should Chavez, an ambitious woman, have known back in the early '90s that this charitable act could create the appearance of public impropriety in any future confirmation hearing? Should she really have refused to shelter Marta Mercado and/or helped deport her? Answer: Is the kind of person who would do that, in the interests of furthering his or her political career, really the kind of person we want in high public office?
There are dangers, obviously, in allowing ourselves to be too gullible. But there are dangers, too, in an aggressive cynicism that does not even entertain the possibility that some who aspire to high office might actually act from motives of charity, compassion and personal service. The dangers of being "taken in" by Chavez's explanations are really less than the risk of ruling out as unfit for public office some of the best people in public life.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.