On adultery and politicians *UPDATED*

Roger Simon uses the Strauss-Kahn affair to say something very profound about a society that condones cheating:

I won’t get into the sad details, but some time ago I had an affair with a married French woman — I was single then — that went on for a couple of years.

I’m not proud of it in the least. It was stupid, immoral (yes, that) and eventually sheer emotional Hell. Besides hurting other people, most of them innocent, it drastically affected my work in a negative way and made me a liar on frequent occasions. In sum, I was despicable, weak, selfish and destructive of myself and others to do it.

But I did learn something about the French. Pace Edith Piaf and Yves Montand, there is nothing chic or hip about their adultery. After all the shared Gauloise and baiser volé, it’s just cheating. People don’t respect each other. People don’t trust each other. Indeed, they begin to hate each other. Life is wretched. It’s like a game of ritual self-and-other torture played out by a significant sector of their society — particularly in the elite classes — into oblivion.

I’ve long said that the trust issue, not the morality issue, is why we care about our politicians’ affairs. If our elected officials think nothing about lying to and cheating on those who are, presumably, nearest and dearest to them, what are we to expect when it comes to the politicians’ relationship to us, the public?  That is, a politician’s immorality is a personal matter that goes to each politician’s relationship with his family and his God.  But the lying — that’s about character, and that should matter to the voting public.

UPDATE:  Jonathan Tobin has more on how the French system enabled a known sexual predator to rise so high.  (Of course, the Arkansas/America system did too, but at least we Americans were shocked when we learned about it.)  I guess the bottom line, always, will be that, if you’re a politician helping the right people, you can trust them to turn a blind eye whether you’re committing minor peccadilloes or major crimes.

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Comments

  1. jj says

    Welllll…….  I don’t know about that.  I’d be inclined to be a touch more hesitant about condemning an entire society on the basis of my own lousy experience than Simon appears to be.  I don’t much like the Froggies, and will certainly spend damned little time defending any aspect of them, but to put the arm on an entire civilization – which has been known to churn out the occasional good thing over the past couple of millennia – on the basis that I, for whatever reason, wasn’t able to carry off my own situation without turning it into a misery to everybody else for five blocks around seems a bit rich to me.  Bit of a broad brush at work, there.

  2. says

    I don’t know if it’s true about the whole French culture, jj, but I do believe that someone who regularly breaks his marital vows — and I say “regularly” because I know that even people with the best intentions can make mistakes, even moral mistakes — is probably not someone in whom one should place ones trust. Simon may be wrong to indict the French wholesale as cheaters, but he’s right to say that a cheating culture is a damned one.

  3. Danny Lemieux says

    Speaking as a Frenchman-become-American, Simon is right!

    Way too many French people have descended to the secular, narcissistic values championed by Left, leading to the dissolution of the French family and the immeasurable abuse done to children denied stable families. This licentiousness is one reason why rising illegitimacy and plunging birthrates are pushing the French (and other Europeans) to demographic collapse.

    One bright note, however, is that according to my sources, more and more of the young have had enough with this and are returning to their religious heritage and its values. The lights have not gone out in Europe just yet. 

  4. SADIE says

    The lights have not gone out in Europe just yet.
     
    Unfortunately, the dim bulb brain of DSK (reportedly) did not bother to even ask, lure or seduce the maid. I  assume at $3000 a night, he actually thought it included room service in a most salacious way.
     
    There is a deeper and uglier side to the story. The victim (reportedly) was a hotel maid – not a profession many of us would choose but would have out of need.  It’s one thing to engage in adultery by choice and consent and quite another to think the world and everything and everyone is yours for the taking – literally.
     
    I adore French cheese. I detest cheesy behavior. There are simply some things that should never be imported or tolerated – it makes us all Les Miserables.
     
     
     
     

  5. Charles Martel says

    I remember the thousands of winks the feminists gave Bill after he was caught with his pants down. The whole point of liberal sexuality is to condone almost all sexuality, all the better to make your own bent or immorality look normal.

    Remember, too, Bill’s victims were all trailer park trash, just half a cut below Sarah Palin. How dare lower-class whores try to derail the career of a handsome pro-abortion, pro-gay rights man, a hero to clean, degreed, articulate, careered, well-dressed, tasteful liberal women?

    I admit to a soft spot for French movies. I find them to be focused little things, not as sprawling or ambitious as Yank films. But I do find in many of them, for all of the supposed sophistication of their characters, a self-absorption and moral obtuseness that becomes laughable after awhile. There has to be more to life than seducing other people’s spouses, then ending with these hilariously sophomoric monologues on the meaning of it all as they are zipping themselves up.

  6. abc says

    “I’ve long said that the trust issue, not the morality issue, is why we care about our politicians’ affairs. If our elected officials think nothing about lying to and cheating on those who are, presumably, nearest and dearest to them, what are we to expect when it comes to the politicians’ relationship to us, the public?  That is, a politician’s immorality is a personal matter that goes to each politician’s relationship with his family and his God.  But the lying — that’s about character, and that should matter to the voting public.”

    I guess that eliminates Newt as a contender against Obama.

  7. abc says

    Danny writes:  “This licentiousness is one reason why rising illegitimacy and plunging birthrates are pushing the French (and other Europeans) to demographic collapse.”

    Those are two different things.  The plunging birthrates also are occurring in Japan, but there is no rising illegitimacy.  Plunging birthrates can happen for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with cheating.  And rising birthrates can occur in places that have morality systems that most on this website would consider highly problematic, like Nigeria and Palestine.  I think people are confusing correlation and causality…

  8. Charles Martel says

    Omygaw, I just saw a flying pig. I actually agree with abc: Newt is not a viable candidate for me. I know he’s had his come-to-Jesus moment regarding his past marriages and affairs, but it’s too little, too late for me.

  9. Danny Lemieux says

    I think that I can speak for empirically on the causality present in France and some of the other European countries, ABC.

    If one steps out of the rarified environments of the upper-middle and wealthy elite classes in EUrope, ABC, it’s pretty evident. It’s a problem in the elite classes as well, it’s just that their money protects them against (or, at least, hides) a lot of the downsides.

    As to the Japanese, a lot of Japanese women just don’t want to marry Japanese men.

  10. Danny Lemieux says

    Regarding Newt, I would point out that the Republican party has been pretty consistent in punishing its elected members for such transgressions. Hardly so with the Democrats – in fact, the seem to revel in them. 

    I do agree with you regarding Newt’s viability as a candidate, however.

  11. says

    I’m no hypocrite:  I’ve been very consistent regarding Newt, which is that I neither like nor trust him.  He’s definitely very intelligent, and he was an effective politician during the 1990s, but he’s a gadfly.

  12. Lyte Lee says

         Yes, it was a very poignant moment at Francois Mitterrand’s funeral service with his wife and mistress together before his cofin.  The vacuous MSM commentar remarked about both the civility and sophistication of French society as evidenced by the two women standing peacefully together in tribute to their deceased loved one.  For the betrayed wife and the betrayer mistress, it must have been most  gratifying at that moment to have been a Parisian. 

  13. abc says

    Danny writes:  “I think that I can speak for empirically on the causality …”

    You need to cite empirical evidence to speak empirically.  You haven’t done this.  

    Unrelatedly, I do agree that the Democrats do not punish their leaders for sexual misconduct in the consistent way that Republicans have.  But Republicans tend to use sexual misconduct as a benchmark for public trust, while ignoring things like professional malfeasance, and, in this respect, the Democrats have been more consistent.  For example, Dick Cheney and Bill Frist were not truthful about the retained financial interest in their former companies that they held while in positions of political power.  This is a trust issue that directly impacts their honesty as politicians, rather than a proxy for trust, which the sexual misconduct serves.  I tend to weight professional misconduct more heavily than private misconduct, which is an indirect proxy.  Misconduct that directly impacts behavior in a position of power is more troubling than that occurring in a private sphere (provided it is not illegal).  Newt’s misuse of funds, which earned him Congressional sanction, is more troubling to me than his personal affairs–although the latter display a greater hypocrisy than any feminists that remained loyal to Clinton.

  14. abc says

    Bookworm, to be clear, I didn’t insinuate that you are a hypocrite, but that your logically necessarily dictates that you would not vote for Newt.

  15. Danny Lemieux says

    For example, Dick Cheney and Bill Frist were not truthful about the retained financial interest in their former companies that they held while in positions of political power.

    Tell us about it, ABC. Please!

    As far as my empirical evidence regarding Europe, I refer to my observations having grown up there and visiting there frequently on family matters.

    From Wikipedia:
    em·pir·i·cal/emˈpirikəl/
    Adjective: Based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic

  16. Danny Lemieux says

    ABC weighs in on a Newt: Newt’s misuse of funds, which earned him Congressional sanction, is more troubling to me than his personal affairs–although the latter display a greater hypocrisy than any feminists that remained loyal to Clinton.

    Huh?

  17. SADIE says

    But Republicans tend to use sexual misconduct as a benchmark for public trust, while ignoring things like professional malfeasance, and, in this respect, the Democrats have been more consistent.
     
     
    They (Democrats) certainly have been most consistent, if you include screwing the IRS by rewarding them the position of  Secretary of the Treasury or handing out healthcare waivers to a selected group of loyalists.

  18. Mike Devx says

    If a politician is adulterous, it’s not an automatic disqualifier for me.  Walk a mile on someone’s shoes, you know. It’s possible there are extenuating circumstances.  But as Desi would say, “Lucy, you got some ‘splainin’ to do!”

    Adultery is a transgression, pure and simple.  A betrayal of the marriage covenant and a betrayal of trust and indicates nothing good.  For many it *is* an automatic disqualifier, but for me it is just a very strong point against him or her.  Such a candidate would have to do some heavy lifting to get me back on his or her side.

  19. Danny Lemieux says

    Actually, given Newt’s most recent commentary on healthcare, our discussion may be moot as Newt’s viability as a Republican candidate looks as it probably measured no more than a few hours.

    Which is about right, now that I think about it.

  20. jj says

    ABC – you are perfect.  You are as reliable as the sunrise, and though I am highly unlikely to ever respond to you again, such splendid consistency should be noted. 

  21. Michael Adams says

    Amen, Sadie.  I come from a tradition that values good preaching as much as we value good poetry.  Your comment was a beautiful sermon. Very, very good.

  22. BrianE says

    Not to defend Newt, but I enjoy listening to him. He’s a ”Big” idea guy. When I’m ruler, I’m going to combine Technology, NASA and Energy and make a Department of the Future– and appoint Newt director.

    Newt’s support of an individual mandate- requiring everyone to buy insurance (or show sufficient financial resources) and subsidize those that can’t afford it, does point to a dilemna between the theoretical and the practical.

    In the theoretical world, everyone is free not to purchase health insurance– and then is free to die at the door of the hospital when it’s determined they can’t pay. But they don’t and we won’t. They are the free riders.

    Possibly open Medicare Part A (ore something similar) to everyone, increase premiums to reflect the lowered age eligibility– which would at least give everybody catastrophic care. Premiums would be means tested.

  23. Mike Devx says

    BrainE: n the theoretical world, everyone is free not to purchase health insurance– and then is free to die at the door of the hospital when it’s determined they can’t pay. But they don’t and we won’t. They are the free riders.

    That wouldn’t bother me *if* the free riders had to pay for getting sick or injured and not have insurance coverage.   That’s the whole cost-benefit ratio analysis behind most economic decisions made by people.   Pay a little, and join the pool of potential riskers, and if something really bad happens, it’s a “win” on the insurance front.  If nothing really bad happens, then I’ve paid in far more than my fair share, but I’ve had peace of mind, and it was my choice to do so, after all.

    That’s why most of us *would* opt for health insurance even if not covered by an employer’s health plan.

    If you’re not covered by any plan at all, and you require health services, well, you OUGHT better be prepared to pay a lot of money.  After all, you’ve bet you’re not going to require those services, and in running that bet, you lost.  You should HAVE to pay.  (And yes, you can institute a number of possible programs for the poor instead of debtors prisons, without creating the evil destructive force that is ObamaCare.  Even those programs would not be free, but might involve deferments or means-based payments with some type of minimum.  If you’re poor and your kid has an iPod and brand-spankin’ new $200 tennis shoes…, are you telling me you *couldn’t* have afforded $10 per month payment on your debt???; after all we are not serfs and this is not a static nor a caste-based society, and if you are poor and owe a debt, and then become at least decently well off, you should still be then required to pay what you owe.)

    As we know, you can’t compare this to auto insurance.  I have a neighbor down a few houses who has run into hard times.   Right now she rides public transportation, still has a driver’s license but has sold her car, and she does not drive.  Therefore she stopped paying auto insurance; she has no reason for it.  Tell me I can stop paying for health insurance the same way, purely by my own choice and for my own reasons, whatever they may be, and my opposition would diminish significantly.

    BrianE: [Newt is] a ”Big” idea guy. When I’m ruler, I’m going to combine Technology, NASA and Energy and make a Department of the Future– and appoint Newt director.

    Just keep him away from all things AGW (we do *not* need another James Hansen!), keep him away from the health sector, and any of the various other “big idea” areas where he’s gone straight into Zach’s domain of total government control via centralized planning.  Newt’s a centralized planner kind of guy, or he wouldn’t keep consistently gravitating towards those solutions.  In his case it’s because he’s a central-planning technocrat at heart, not because he’s a socialist in the Obama vein; but i hardly care what the origins of the impulse are. 

    I keep wanting to find me some ivory-tower guys that I can actually trust to protect my individual liberties, and they ALL keep letting me down.

  24. says

    It’s well within economic sense for medical insurance to be priced very low. So long as medical insurance is regulated by the government monopoly in order to benefit government goons, the price of medical insurance will be high due to the artificial constraints on supply.

  25. says

    For example, Congress has a private medical plan and insurance program. How do you think they pay for it? By avoiding government regulations that harm the businesses involved, that’s how. Congress critters get very expensive healthcare dontcha know .Botox included.

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