Tuesday, March 13

America: Proudly Facing Whatever Portion Of Its Moral Quandries It Chooses Not To Ignore Since 1981!

Joyce Purnick, Voters Accept Divorced Candidates, but They Have Limits." New York Times, March 11
ALREADY in this pre-presidential year, the question is out and about: How judgmental will the public be of candidates, how demanding of idealized personal lives and vintage family values?

Well, it's curious: the headline already answered that question. I'm sorry, the Moose should have told you!

But the thing that's really curious is how the matter is now up to the public to decide. Or, better put, the matter is again up to the public.

As always, I'm happy to accept the news judgment of seasoned journalistic professionals. You say the public had no interest in whether serial monogamist Ronald Wilson Reagan lived up to the old fashioned morality he claimed was a cure for everyone else's ills, and I believe it. An unexpected benefit of this non-interest was that when the 1981 release of Trivial Pursuit proved so popular the question about Nancy "Mommy" Reagan being knocked-up at the altar was just that much more competitive.

But this new, more flexible approach to the Inviolate Code of Marital Morality set down by an angry God did not include philandering, at least not in 1988 or '92. This is because of the well-known asterisk after "'Til Death Do You Part."

Customers who bought this explanation also bought

Ronald Reagan's devout Christianity
George W. Bush's youthful indiscretions
Some useful distinction between marriage vows and military obligations or sworn testimony by Republican officials, where applicable

Sorry, I just spotted the error. The New Moral Code did not permit philandering by Democrats; as I recall it the public suddenly lost interest in the subject when the question of George Herbert Walker Bush's fidelity to his lovin' Babs came up. The public is a bitch mistress, but she gets to decide. Major news outlets are just along for the ride.
[Is Rudy's personal track record as typified by Andrew Giuliani's recent interview a] problem? No, said David Garth, a political consultant who advised Mr. Giuliani when he ran for mayor. “The more trouble the country is in, the more you tend to overlook some of the personal things you may have looked at before,” he said.

That is one theory: The voting public, practiced survivors of Bill Clinton ’s transgressions and former Senator Gary Hart ’s career-wrecking dalliance with a young woman not his wife, is less likely to dismiss a candidate because of personal foibles today, especially if worried about war and security.

Well, I think we're all glad that's over with, especially at a time when the same people who who peddled the story for so many years now are the ones at risk of being eaten by it find the country in such dire straits. What's the other theory?
“This will be in a way a kind of test of where the values of the electorate stand,” said the historian Alan Brinkley of Columbia University . “There are not too many positions in America that Giuliani’s messy personal life would obstruct. But the presidency might still be one of them.”

"Anything that involves making change" might be another.
The most damaging aspect of Andrew Giuliani’s remarks could come down to his surely unintended role as a town crier. He clued the rest of the country into what has long been common knowledge back home — how the former mayor treated his second wife, Ms. Hanover. In a performance that astonished even jaded New Yorkers, Mr. Giuliani declared his intention to divorce her at a news conference, catching Ms. Hanover unawares.

On the other hand, after eight years of Bush administration news conferences, this may come to be seen as refreshingly ethical. After all, you decide.


Anonymous said...

Yes. The Public always decides. After all, it was The Public who was screaming for Clinton's impeachment all along and whose disapproval rating of Clinton when he left office was stratospheric. Yes, that was some ride those News Media went along for, eh?

Anonymous said...

Well, to be perfectly fair, I think a lot of people contemplated the notion of HW and/or Babs having sex for approximately .0021 seconds and then just shut the whole topic down. And really, I can't blame 'em.

Anonymous said...

“There are not too many positions in America that Giuliani’s messy personal life would obstruct. But the presidency might still be one of them.”

Holyjeebus. This is the kind of penetrating insight that academics bring to the table. Let's see voters make judgements on people they want to elect? REALLY? And somehow Professor, this is manifestly different than if, say, Rudy was applying for a job at a Fortune 500 company? I don't believe it. How is this possible? I'm in shocked. Literally stunned. I need a calmative.

Anonymous said...

A friend who retired from State Dept swears up and down that Bush I not only had a mistress but that he a) took her on official state trips along with Babs and b) the mistress looked a lot like Babs, which strikes me sort of like sneaking out of work from McDonalds to eat lunch at Burger King...