When Should a Politician Just Go Away?

This week, I’m wrangling with honor, shame, and the idea of “second chances” in light of the (most recent) Weiner scandal:

By now, America has rejected Anthony Weiner with as much passion and unanimity as it rejected New Coke and the final episode of Seinfeld. After giving him a second chance, our forgiveness resulted in even more predatory sexual behaviors, exposing our children to blurred photos of his nether regions on television, and more genitalia puns in one week than in the average four years of high school. Suddenly, everyone agrees it’s time for “Carlos Danger” to simply go away. And, if recent New York polls are any indication, America might just get its wish.

But Carlos is an easy call. What about other politicians? When should scandals end political careers, even when they’re really, really sorry?

Recent examples abound.

Obviously, there’s Democrat Eliot Spitzer who resigned from his position as governor of New York in 2008 because of a prostitution scandal, but is currently running for comptroller.

Then, there’s the Democratic San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, whom seven women have publicly accused of unwanted sexual advances like groping. On Friday, he told his constituents “the behavior I have engaged in over many years is wrong … the intimidating conduct I engaged in at times is inexcusable.” Yet, instead of resigning, he’s entering two weeks of “intensive therapy.”

Republicans have their own share of drama.

For example, did you know Tennessee’s 4th Congressional district is being led by a self-described pro-life Congressman Scott Desjarlais who encouraged his mistress to have an abortion and supported his former wife’s decision to have two abortions? 

And what about Newt Gingrich, Mark Sanford, and others who have tarnished our “family values” brand in their own unique ways?

Please enjoy my handy guide to scandal-plagued politicians

Sadly, I think we’ll get a lot of use out it.

 

Nancy French — Nancy French is a three-time New York Times best-selling author and a longtime contributor to National Review Online.

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