A healthy debate has sprung up based on some recent posts and comments on Choosing a Soundtrack and Right-Side-of-Lowell regarding when politicians' family members are or aren't "fair game" for lampooning and even generally discussing.
That's one of those great topics that will never really go away, and for which there won't be any *right* answers (I guess if there were, it would cease to be an interesting topic).
One issue for which there's no doubt, at least in my mind, is whether it's fair to call into question the actions of the politicians themselves.
Running for, and holding, a public office is a conscious choice. There are of course a lot of downsides (such as the scrutiny) but there are also MANY upsides. When was the last time you saw a former Governor or Senator scrounging for spare change or worrying about how to afford health care? It's a chance to impact history, it's a chance to help steer the debate, it's a chance to give 'em hell on your behalf, or your constituents' behalf, or whatever else it brings.
However, if you're going to take the mantle of leader of your state, your district, or whatever, and the accolades and respect that come with that, you've also got to accept that people are going to pay attention to your behavior.
So can we please just pack away and throw out the pervasive myth that politicians are being held to some impossibly high standard??
No one is saying you can't slurp your soup.
No one is saying you can't pick your nose at a red light.
No one is saying you can't cut a fart between the sheets in the morning.
However, sneaking off to Argentina to be with your mistress during your state's time of budget crisis, or calling yourself a Christian leader and then sleeping with your staffer (who happens to be married to one of your supporters) might fail most people's sniff test of what constitutes unacceptable behavior.
I'll periodically re-do this post, or some variant on it, the next time this happens...in much the same fashion as I followed up on Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards, Larry Craig, or David Vitter.
In the meantime, I wish the best for the Sanford and Ensign families as they try to heal and reconcile.
I won't, however, take in any sanctimonious lecturing from either the fallen Governor or the fallen Senator about what is or isn't someone else's business. They can have all the privacy they want, just the same as if they had entered a private legal practice, or business consulting, or whatever else it is that non-politicians do with their time...once they tender resignation letters.