Parker: Poor judgment nets different reactions

Register
Apr 22, 2013

Excerpt: As the reporter said to the novelist: Why bother to make stuff up?

For stories and characters, one needs only a pair of walking shoes in this city, where recent attentions have turned to two salacious stories. One concerns a murder-forhire plot involving a banker, his wife, his lover’s ex-husband and his ex-lover’s husband’s cellmate. Not to be confused with his soul mate.

No, that designation refers to the other story making rounds on the cocktail circuit. Yes, he’s back but maybe not for long. Mark Sanford, the former governor who disappeared for five days, allegedly to hike the Appalachian Trail only to find himself in the arms of his lover (now his fiancée), is discovering that not every kid gets a comeback.

What is it about the shamed male politician that he seems unable to accept when it’s over? This is strictly rhetorical, obviously. Part of the answer is hubris. Another part is history: Voters generally are forgiving once a person confesses and repents. But key to general forgiveness is the forgiveness of the wronged spouse. If Mrs. forgives, Joe and Jane Public usually do too.

The list of those who have sinned and recovered is too long for this space, though a couple serve the point — and at least one deserves special mention: Bill Clinton

Despite his well-known peccadilloes, the former president has become a respected global figure in the wake of his impeachment by the House of Representatives (the Senate failed to convict) on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. His personal sins mostly forgiven, he has emerged with his popularity largely intact.

Perhaps the explanation lies in his overall likability as well as his good works through his foundation, not to mention a larger sense that he was unnecessarily persecuted for behaviors that were more or less familiar to (and ignored by) a majority of voters. At some point in the investigation, he became more sympathetic than his pursuers.

Clinton did not, moreover, seek public office again. And, significantly, Hillary, her early protestations notwithstanding, stood by her man.

Switch now to former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, who left Congress after accidentally tweeting a photo of his assets to his Twitter followers. Despite unfathomable embarrassment, Weiner now is considering a run for mayor of New York City. A recent poll shows him in second place in a hypothetical Democratic mayoral primary at 15 percent, behind City Council Speaker Christine Quinn at 26 percent.