Public privates

At first, I thought this blog had nothing to say about the sex lives of governors in New York and New Jersey.  Sordid stuff beneath one’s notice.  Then I thought maybe, just maybe, there’s a connection between public and private morality, between self-rule in the face of private temptation and self-rule in the face of public corruption.  Maybe — just maybe — the question pertains to character, not just sex.

Nah.  I decided to outsource the whole question to Mark Steyn:

Why do American sex scandals lack either the Brits’ comic inventiveness or the Frogs’ effortless bravura? Go back to that line of Governor McGreevey’s: “My truth is that I am a gay American.” That’s such an exquisitely contemporary formulation: “my” truth. Once upon a time, there was only “the” truth. Now everyone gets his own — at least if you’re a Democrat, as McGreevey, Spitzer and Paterson are. As New Jersey’s chief exec put it, “One has to look deeply into the mirror of one’s soul and decide one’s unique truth in the world.” But the point is that whatever “unique truth” the consultants have run past the focus groups has to bear at least a passing relationship to the real, actual truth. That was Spitzer’s mistake. As a public figure, his “unique truth” was as a law-enforcement crusader against everyone else’s footling failings, including very zealous prosecution of nickel-and-dime prostitution rings. “I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself,” he told New Yorkers. In other words, there is no agreed societal morality. As President-for-Life of the Republic of Spitzer, he was in breach only of his own standards.

Nobody can say it better.


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