We all know that our professional judgments can be clouded by personal or emotional considerations. It's also true that our opinions about personal or moral issues can be clouded by our political leanings. Since one party gains when a leader of the opposing party falls from grace, that gives us an incentive to join in the condemnation of those whose downfalls may benefit our side politically. Thus, Republicans rationalize calling for the resignation or punishment of Democratic politicians embroiled in sex scandals, on the grounds that those politicians have failed to live up to the traditional family values that the Republicans say they stand for. Or that they are not really concerned about sex, only about lying about sex. Democrats likewise find a way to call for punishment of Republicans embroiled in personal scandals on the ground that it serves those hypocrites right. I have a modest proposal. Maybe people on both sides should be be a little less quick to judge such matters. Maybe we need to respect people's privacy more. Maybe we shouldn't be so anxious to read other people's personal correspondence.
When I hear Democrats say that their objection to Governor Sanford's behavior has nothing to do with what he does in his personal life, but is instead about hypocrisy or dereliction of duty or something like that, it reminds me of the Republicans in Congress saying that they were not impeaching Bill Clinton because of his sexual behavior, but rather because of his flagrant perjury. Or something like that. The fact is that people lie about their sex lives. The fact is that hypocrisy is fairly universal. The fact is that people sometimes do reckless things when their minds are clouded by personal considerations. People sometimes even neglect their official duties because of personal issues. I think it would be better if we all just stood back a little from condemning the crazy things people do in their personal lives, even when their behavior seems to be a little dangerous. We would do well to follow the teachings of Jesus on issues of sexual immorality: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."