Charlotte Brontë would have forgiven Trump his Stormy Daniels’ sins, because she separated an individual’s personal sins from the way they treated others.
In the wake of the Anderson Cooper/60 Minutes‘ interview with Stormy Daniels, there’s been something of a war raging (albeit politely) between Dennis Prager and Jonah Goldberg. The issue is whether it should matter to conservatives that President Trump was not a Boy Scout in the years leading up to his presidency — and, indeed, did something as morally reprehensible as having a one-night fling with a porn star immediately after his son’s birth.
Dennis Prager wrote a column saying that Trump’s personal behavior — which is a black mark on his soul and an insult to his wife — should not matter, because we are not Trump’s soul nor his wife. Instead, we are the citizens of the nation he is leading and in that capacity, his presidency is moral because it stands up to evil and does what is right:
I do not agree with those — right or left, religious or secular — who contend that adultery invalidates a political or social leader. It may invalidate a pastor, priest or rabbi — because a major part of their vocation is to be a moral/religious model, and because clergy do not make war, sign national budgets, appoint judges, run foreign policy or serve as commanders in chief. In other words, unlike your clergyman or clergywoman, almost everything a president does as president affects hundreds of millions of Americans and billions of non-Americans. If a president is also a moral model, that is a wonderful bonus. But that is not part of a president’s job description.
The second problem with the adultery-matters-in-a-political-leader argument is that the policies of a political leader matter much more — morally — than that individual’s sexual sins, or even character. It is truly foolish to argue otherwise. Would we rather have as president a person with racist views who otherwise had an exemplary personal character or a believer in racial equality who committed adultery?
The fact is it is none of my business and none of my concern whether a politician ever had an extramarital affair. To cite just one of many examples, a president’s attitude toward the genocide-advocating Islamic tyrants in Tehran is incomparably more morally significant. That is just one of many reasons — on moral grounds alone — I far prefer the current president to the faithful-to-his-wife previous president.
Jonah Goldberg, who cannot get past his deep distaste for Trump’s personality and his deviations from doctrinaire 21st century Republican conservativism, thinks that the Stormy Daniels matter (and others like) it are such black marks against Trump that we Americans become complicit in his sins when we support his politics. For that reason, in a post about secularism and conservativism, he essentially accuses Prager and other religious people who support Trump of being unfaithful to their faith: [Read more…]