The private lives of public men

Posted: Aug 17, 2007 12:01 AM

Lately, there have been a lot of nasty rumors floating around about Rudy and Judith Giuliani. I’ve heard, for instance, that he’s been having an affair. I’ve also heard that she, wife number three, is a royal pain in the butt who goes berserk if anyone dares call her Judy.

Now, I enjoy gossip as much as the next fellow. Maybe even more, depending on whom that fellow happens to be. But when it comes to electing a president, I don’t really care about his personal life or his wife’s idiosyncrasies. I don’t care, believe it or not, if Fred Thompson and Dennis Kucinich are married to women decades younger than themselves. Frankly, I didn’t even care that Bill Clinton dallied with Monica Lewinsky. I took his perjury seriously, but not his philandering. I did figure he could have done better than Ms. Lewinsky, being commander in chief and all, but that’s neither here nor there. I simply don’t expect politicians to be saintly. Besides, a lot of saints weren’t the least bit saintly before they had their epiphanies.

I’m not taking this position because I have had two divorces of my own, although that does give me a perspective that others might lack. The fact is, in many cases, there are probably better, more rational, reasons for people to get divorced than they had for getting married in the first place.

It stands to reason that people who share my politics might not share my point of view. After all, conservatives tend to put a premium on morals and so-called family values. I happen to believe that I am an honorable man of sterling character. I am, after all, friendly, loyal and extremely dependable. Is it any wonder that, if the Hindus are right and that reincarnation really exists, I’d like to come back as a dog? Who wouldn’t want to have all of his virtues cherished, while being fed, bathed and having his tummy rubbed, on a regular basis?

I realize that a fair number of Americans could never bring themselves to vote for a man who’s gone through one or two divorces. They’d view him as a deeply flawed individual. On the other hand, there might be something to be said for electing such a man. After all, it shows that he is able to acknowledge that he’s made a mistake, but that he has an optimistic spirit and is ready to pick up the pieces and move on. He is the sort who can say, and mean, better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Although even I can see where there is such a thing as saying it too often.

For those who believe that divorce is reason enough to write off a presidential candidate, let me remind you that Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan were divorced men, and that FDR and LBJ weren’t, and Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton aren’t!

We should all keep in mind that politics is not the clergy, and being president is not a sacred calling. All I ask of the man in the Oval Office isn’t that he be my moral superior, but that he has the courage of my convictions.