The Washington Times - August 11, 2008, 08:18PM

There was a great ancient Chinese philosopher named Confucius, who offered that government officials should be shining examples of morality. I thought this was timely to mention since the world will get an overdose of Chinese culture by watching the Beijing Olympics for the next ten days. And, let’s not forget the recent news of yet another scandal by a prominent political figure. Yes, John Edwards had an affair. So did Bill Clinton, two New York governors, one New Jersey governor and so many others political figures in the past. I am sure many will in the future.

What amazes me is that these stories are considered news well into the twenty-first century. There seems to be some sense of shock and even surprise when these stories break. And, after the stories break, we tend to look upon the exposed official as somewhat lesser. Now why am I talking about this? Let me tell you why.

The men and women who seek public office are not angels and we should want them to be. Some have been and are truly great individuals with many of the same human frailties we all have. The fact of the matter is, the jobs they seek are tough and require a certain amount of ruthlessness.

Let’s take the Presidency, there is no doubt that it’s a tough job and requires a life-seasoned and somewhat battle tested individual. I really don’t think you win the presidency in this day and age.  It seems that you out last or survive all that the campaign process offers, and be the last man standing in the field.

You know, I want a president who can balance a budget, command the military, effectively deal with other world leaders and inspire us. Hey, and if he/she is a saint, that’s even better. We need to make more sense out of what matters about the character of a person who seeks and is elected to public office. There are certain things that are obviously unacceptable. I believe that those things should relate directly to the execution of his/her duties.
Some matters about the lives of politicians and other public figures such as extra-marital affairs, are personal and should be dealt with at the family level.  In the case of the John Edwards affair, (even though by claiming  to be a such big family man, he probably brought this upon himself), you have to ask what happens to his wife and the baby of his mistress when this story is no longer a hot item?  They have to live with it.

Do you know why America is in such bad shape and all of our institutions seem to be failing us? I will tell you one reason why. We are not getting the best and most qualified people in public office. And, it is because of an intrusive and over reaching press, negative campaign opposition research and self-anointed moral police, who use one single mistake like having an affair to derail a brilliant career and destroy a family. No wonder our best and brightest are afraid to serve.

I want to leave you with this final thought. You know, Franklin Roosevelt had an affair. Did that diminish his legacy and the great job he did pulling America out of the depression and leading us through most of World War II? I think not.

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