Now that former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford has been elected to Congress (a poor move by voters in that state) and Anthony Weiner and Elliott Spitzer are running for political offices again, the thought that is lost on them is obvious to many. We are asking you to be a leader representing our interests. How can we expect you to make good decisions on our behalf when you exercise such poor judgment on misdeeds and then try to rationalize or make excuses? We are all human and make mistakes. Yet, a key test for many is what kind of mistake was it, did you fess up and did you stop doing the misdeeds? If Tiger Woods was running for office, we would be asking him these same kinds of questions, as he had a girl in every port, while a married father.
I know some people say what someone does in his personal life should matter less to whether they would be a good politician. In some respects, that is true. Yet, when you misuse our time, our money and our trust while doing it, that should be fair game for inclusion in the debate over your veracity. You showed poor judgment. Sanford was reelected to his former Congressional seat after leaving the governor’s office. As many recall, he walked the Appalachian Trail (his story) while he was flying back and forth to Argentina to see his mistress. There were reports of where is the governor as he was missing in action for periods of time with no public knowledge. Yet, since he stayed with his mistress after his divorce, that seemed to make it all better. As an aside, I believe his greatest mistake as governor was not accepting stimulus money to boost his state’s economy when his state is one of the most impoverished and unhealthy states in the country. He declined out of principle, yet it was obvious later, he had no principles.
Weiner, whose name is more than symbolic of his ongoing willingness to reveal more than he should, is guilty of extremely poor judgment. And, it appears he continued to exercise this poor judgment for several months following his departure from Congress. In this day and age where we tell our children anything you put online can be seen by anyone, how can we expect Wiener to make important decisions for us when he does not act like an adult? My strong advice to Mr. Weiner is stop wasting our time. His wife, who has a tremendous track record in her own right, has stood by him after his misdeeds. Yet, I am not sure she knew his online sexual trysts continued long after his first mea culpa.
Spitzer deserved some credit for taking on Wall Street as the New York Attorney General. He may have been overzealous at times, yet he was directionally correct even when he was a tad zealous. The New York voters gave him due credit and elected him governor. So, why would someone who had done all of that, exercise such repeated poor judgment in frequenting a high-end prostitute on state time and expense? This was not one paid tryst, but was a routine of misbehavior. His wife’s stance is somewhere in between that of Weiner and Sanford’s. Jenny Sanford kicked her husband to the curb. I think it was the “soul mate” reference he made about his Argentine lover.
Spitzer’s wife lives away from her husband, but is still married to him. She has not been part of his campaign and has not condoned his earlier actions. I also feel sorry for his kids, when it is hard for dad to explain his improprieties. Spitzer is probably more deserving of office given his track record, but if I lived in New York, I would most likely not vote for him. I do know his judgment would be in question if I had to make that choice. The voters in SC weighed that choice and, in fact, the national Republican Party distanced themselves from Sanford and he had to win on his own. He probably benefitted from his then mistress being is now fiance. Yet, most of the traditional GOP voters who elected him in as the majority from his district, were less in tune with his poor decision on not accepting federal stimulus dollars which SC so badly needed.
Finally, there is the story of the serial groper, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner (these names are not made up). Filner has a hugging, squeezing and groping problem among other offensive behaviors. The problem on the former is a growing number of women are coming out of the woodwork to claim sexual harassment against Mr. Filner. He is going to counseling, but I think most Americans liken this to what Tiger Woods did when his numerous trysts came out – “I have an addiction to sex.” Please. Unlike Woods who is a private citizen, we expect more of a mayor, so he needs to protect what little dignity he has and resign. The citizens of San Diego deserve more than being a punch line to a joke. It does not do a lot for your credibility when husbands and fathers tell their wives and daughters to stay out of arm’s length of the mayor.
So, note to Weiner and Spitzer. You should likely call it a day and not run. Filner, you need to ride off into the sunset. Like Sanford, Spitzer might win, but we shall see what the future holds. So, politicians, please remember, what you do in your bedroom is your business, unless you make it ours by showing incredibly poor judgment and misuse our dollars, time and trust. What Filner is doing is out in the open, so his judgment cannot be contained in the bedroom. If what you do makes headlines, then it is something that should be considered in future voting decisions. It is your choice, but it later will be ours.