Habemus Papam. That's what the Vatican says when it elects a new pope. It also should be what delegates scream at the Republican convention when the party's presidential candidate is chosen, because not even papal candidates' personal lives are subjected to the kind of scrutiny reserved for GOP hopefuls. The puritan blade-sharpening officially began with an Austin Chronicle newspaper advertisement targeting primary front-runner Rick Perry, the governor of Texas.
"Have you ever had sex with Rick Perry?" asks the ad, placed by the Ron Paul-backing "Committee Against Sexual Hypocrisy" -- a "group" consisting of a single guy by the name of Robert Morrow. Morrow encourages the public to call or e-mail him so he can "help you publicize" your experience if you are a "stripper, an escort, or just a 'young hottie.'"
The American and world economies are circling the drain, and already some are suiting up to play "Indiana Jones on the Trail of the Family Jewels." Before the expedition moves any further along -- and you can be sure that it will -- I'd like to provide some handy guidelines for political sex-life vetting.
First, can we acknowledge that a person can refrain from sleeping with anyone other than his wife and still have absolutely no problem screwing the country? The person who arguably screwed the country longest and hardest recent times was an FBI agent named Robert Hanssen. A member of Opus Dei and faithfully married to a religion teacher, Hanssen was convicted of cheating on America for 22 years by selling secrets to the Russians. It's unlikely that any presidential candidate could match Hanssen's commitment to his wife or religious devotion, but equally unlikely that any of them could do nearly as much damage to the country.
And does anyone remember Ronald Reagan? The greatest president America has ever known was also indeed the only divorced one. Maybe if divorced candidates weren't dismissed or denounced these days by the party faithful we'd see an overall improvement in the talent pool?