Robert Stein 1924-2014

Contact Information

If anyone has comments, questions or condolences, please feel free to send a private message to the family at

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Presidential Libidos

The flogging today of John Edwards in the public square, aka the New York Times, raises the question of what relevance marital fidelity has to the qualifications of an American president.

Trust and truth-telling come to mind, of course, but it gets more complicated in looking back. JFK famously cheated on his wife, while Richard Nixon, as far as we know, was a faithful husband while betraying the country.

Jimmy Carter told Playboy he "lusted in my heart" but presumably overcame his desires to become a disastrously naive president.

Uxorious Ronald Reagan, Bush I (although there were rumors) and Bush II bracketed Bill Clinton, who couldn't keep it zipped but left office with a budget surplus and no wars.

Now the Obamas, as they have in so many areas, have upped the ante on connubial bliss, often holding hands and displaying a closeness most recently reflected in their sneaking out of the White House for a dinner date last Saturday night.

But how much do we need to know about presidential marriages?

Elizabeth Edwards has dragged her husband into the spotlight for, as Maureen Dowd writes, "a gratuitous peek into their lives, and one that exposes her kids, by peddling more dregs about their personal family life in a book, and exposes the ex-girlfriend who’s now trying to raise the baby girl, a dead ringer for John Edwards, in South Orange, N.J."

We could have all lived happily ever after without hearing the details of their marital wreckage and, more to the point, is it at all relevant to voters who did not otherwise sense that John Edwards was not to be trusted, even if he had never succumbed to the stalker who told him "You're so hot"?

No comments: