July 5, 2007


LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been caught not-so-figuratively with his pants down. Apparently he's been poking a TV reporter (quite lovely she is, too) while married to the woman who contributed the last three syllables of his post-feminist last name.

We are back to the question of whether an elected official's sexual foibles matter, and whether they are a story the press should carry. In the not-so-distant past, such matters were not covered in the press.

Certainly one can be an effective leader in many ways in spite of personal failings, whether boozing, gambling, or skirt-chasing (e.g., Winston Churchill, Bill Bennett, JFK). And yet . . . the offices of Mayor of L.A. and President have a certain royal quality about them, their occupants serving willy-nilly as what today's jargon calls "rôle models." The first Mexican-American mayor of LA has relatively little power in the legal sense, but people, especially those of his own ethnic group, are supposed to look up to him. In that ethnic group, fatherless children and husbandless mothers abound. "Keep it zipped" would be a good example from Mr. Rôle Model, and not only for Chicanos, but for gabachos as well.

Perhaps the press should not be quick to publicize officials' indiscretions, but when it gets into the courts or leads to divorce, it really can't and probably shouldn't be hidden.

Sexual transgressions are not the monopoly of the center-left, either. Henry Hyde and Newt Gingrich have been guilty not only of philandering but of hypocrisy in failing to live up to their "pro-family" pronouncements.

A pious lecher is probably worse than a principled libertine.

And among sinners, I am chief.

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