The Corner

Politics & Policy

Yes, It Was Fair for Ben Sasse to Question Donald Trump About His Many Affairs

Earlier this week, Senator Ben Sasse launched a barrage of questioning tweets at Donald Trump. Most dealt with policy. Unsurprisingly, the tweet that got personal is getting most of the attention:

Low blow? Only if you think voters shouldn’t consider character and personal integrity when evaluating a president. Here’s what Sasse is talking about:

Trump engaged in a highly publicized affair with actress Marla Maples while he was married to his first wife, Ivana Trump, and has written about having relationships with married women.

“If I told the real stories of my experiences with women, often seemingly very happily married and important women, this book would be a guaranteed best-seller,” Trump wrote in his book “The Art of the Comeback.”

Trump also wrote in “Think Big and Kick Ass” that he’s been with married women: “Beautiful, famous, successful, married — I’ve had them all, secretly, the world’s biggest names.”

I don’t think affairs — by themselves — disqualify a person from the presidency, but the combination of infidelity and boastfulness is particularly damaging. Indeed this kind of braggadocio is more reminiscent of professional wrestlers or third-world strongmen than an American president. I’m reminded (with apologies to Jonah for borrowing one of his favorite references) of the Congolese dictator Joseph Desiré-Mobutu, who changed his name to Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu wa za Banga, meaning “the all-powerful warrior who because of his endurance and inflexible will to win will go from conquest to conquest leaving fire in his wake.” Perhaps for Trump we could find the equivalent translation for “the all-dealmaking mogul who because of his wealth and will to win goes from conquest to conquest leaving divorce in his wake.”

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The GOP primary features alternatives (Ted Cruz and — yes — Marco Rubio, for example) who’ve won real victories over the political class, have consistently defended core conservative principles, and — so far as we know — been faithful to God and to their families. Regarding immigration, Trump is no more consistent in his views than Rubio and less consistent than Cruz.

Integrity matters. I agree with the Southern Baptist Convention’s 1998 “Resolution on Moral Character of Public Officials.”

We urge all Americans to embrace and act on the conviction that character does count in public office, and to elect those officials and candidates who, although imperfect, demonstrate consistent honesty, moral purity and the highest character.

We have a rare opportunity in the GOP primary to strike a blow against a failing political class and do it with candidates who’ve demonstrated the strength of their Christian convictions. We just can’t do that with Donald Trump.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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