My friend, we’ll call him Mike, and I were chatting and laughing about the fact that neither of us will ever be able to run for public office. No, it’s not because one of us has impregnated our housekeeper, paid off a mistress, or tweeted our naughty bits. It’s because we say and do things in private that, made public (even if it is taken out of context) would ruin our political careers.
Not that we are saying or doing anything that bad, but the off-color jokes, snark, bitter emails, or online rants to friends might not pass a critical review. Given our complex lives, interesting work histories, and massive exposure to technology, we agree that at some point in our lives we have either stated, emailed or posted something that could be used against us.
But frankly, if there is someone who is able to say that they have never said or done anything wrong would I really want them to run for office? No!
Really, I am not interested in politicians personal lives. I do not care what celebrities do in bed. I don’t even care what my neighbors are up to. Does having an affair make you a bad person? I am not sure. I once witnessed a famous wife (whose governor husband just got caught cheating) screaming at him in a yogurt shop in Santa Monica. Not all marriages are good. Some are really bad. Lying is ugly. But is it always black and white? Does stepping out on your spouse mean that you cannot do your job? Does tweeting pictures of your privates mean you cannot perform your sworn duties? Does paying your mistress to zip it make you a criminal?
Maybe, but who am I to decide where the fine line lies?
We are in a world of Too Much Information. Social media is going to expose all sorts of stupidity. We are coming to a cross-roads where we have to decide when and if publicized personal failures should become public obsessions. Men are men and women are women. If we force all of our public officials to be perfect 24/7 and skewer them for every mistake (large or laughably small), then we will be left without a single capable person in office.
I would guess that for every exposed Weiner, there are 100 people who are scared away from ever stepping up to the plate and making the commitment to work in the public eye. I reject the media crisis that explodes every time we are subjected to someone’s stupidity. I prefer to focus on making sure I am working to be a better person.