A POLITICAL MORALITY TALE

The moral high ground in politics can be a mighty slippery slope – especially if your own morals are not quite as sparkling pure as you pretend.

The moral high ground in politics can be a mighty slippery slope – especially if your own morals are not quite as sparkling pure as you pretend.

This reality keeps coming back to pop a lot of moralistic right-wing politicos in the butt as they decry the immorality of others, try to insert religious Puritanism into the center of American politics, and piously wave the flag of family values.

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Among those who’ve gone sliding down from the heights are William Bennett, whose gambling addiction tainted his talk of virtues; Rush Limbaugh, whose drug addiction turned his little lectures about the immorality of addicts into embarrassing hypocrisy; and Newt Gingrich, who talked family values while practicing infidelity and ripping through three marriages.

Now we get Sen. David Vitter , a Louisiana Republican who rose to high office as a holier-than-thou family man and devout champion of marriage, which he calls “the most important social institution in human history.” But – oopsie-doopsie – Vitter the Virtuous suddenly hit a slick patch on the moral high ground. This family man’s phone number turned up in the little black book of a woman in Washington who’s known as the “DC Madam,” leading the flushed senator to confess to “a very serious sin in my past.” Apparently not his first sin, either. The madam of a high-priced brothel in New Orleans says that Vitter has been one of her clients, as well.

Interestingly, the exposé of Vitter is a body blow to Rudy Giuliani, the presidential contender. Rudy, who maintained a mistress while mayor of New York and is now on marriage number three, had chosen the senator as his southern campaign chairman, hoping that Vitter would be his ambassador to family-values Republican voters in the region.

Beware of politicians wearing morality on their sleeves. Chances are, they’re not very saintly – just human beings working aa political angle.

“A Senator’s Moral High Ground Gets a Little Shaky,” The New York Times, July 11, 2007

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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