After voting for Republican presidential candidates eight times in a row, this is the year I've been listening to Democrats. Sadly, though, every Democratic candidate supports the killing of unborn children and the massive killing of Iraqis that would take place if the U.S. gives up now. So it looks as if I reluctantly will deliver a ninth straight GOP ballot.
I'm not supporting any particular candidate and won't decide which to support merely by examining voting records. Such evidence is important, but an American history book I wrote nine years ago, in the heat of the Clinton controversy, argued (among other things) that voters should take stock of the religious beliefs of leaders and also their personal conduct.
One controversial conclusion of "The American Leadership Tradition" was that leaders who are unfaithful to their spouses are likely to be unfaithful to the country. That rule of thumb has many exceptions, but I still would call unrepentant serial adultery a leading indicator of potential trouble.
A reviewer from The New York Times castigated me for that contention, but in subsequent years, I've received supportive notes from professional opposition researchers -- those who ferret out weaknesses of opposing candidates
Last year, for example, one researcher wrote me, "I personally know about a dozen cases of candidates in which adultery was either widely rumored or established by domestic incident reports or divorce court case files. Contrary to common belief, such material is not politically useful in itself -- but it is a reliable indicator that other moral, legal, professional, or character faults are likely to be found."
This researcher gave examples. In a mayoral race, rumors of sexual misconduct hung around one candidate, but nothing could be proved. Suspicion, though, led to a close examination of financial indiscretions that ending up sinking the candidate. It turned out he played fast and loose with not only women, but cash. He was willing to deviate from "conventional" norms and then lie to protect himself.
Spy novelists and biographers often write that adulterous situations are opportunities to recruit spies and traitors. Similarly, special interests looking for an advantage seek out character flaws as a way to develop relationships that then can be mined for favors at the right time. Those who justify their abuse of trust in one key area are likely to do it in another.