Is marital unfaithfulness a valid disqualifier for political office?

United States
November 13, 2012 3:41pm CST
After hearing about David Patraeus's recent resignation from the CIA because of his "affair", it brought back memories of Bill Clinton. Honestly, it seemed a bit off. If he wanted to take time away from his job to focus on his relationship with his wife, that would have made sense to me. But I would have given him the same respect that I would have given him if he had stayed in his position. These days, about half of American marriages end in divorce and affairs are not uncommon. While it is not good behavior for a married man, I don't feel that it is my business or the business of the American people. If he is able to perform his job duties well, I don't think it should disqualify him from office. People can feel disappointed, and definitely his family should be, but I am simply not interested. I hope that the next in line will be able to meet the demands of the job!
4 people like this
19 responses
@matersfish (6311)
• United States
13 Nov 12
A person in that position hiding something and putting himself in a vulnerable position isn't good. I don't care who's cheating who out there. But some positions are supposed to be the best among us, and that most certainly includes character if not carefulness.
3 people like this
@Sindelle (830)
• United States
14 Nov 12
I agree completely.
• United States
14 Nov 12
When you are the head of the FBI and the CIA, then it can become a national security issue. They have access to a lot of secrets. Mistresses can learn things they aren't suppost to know. Who could then leak the secrets or sell them. Or the person can be blackmailed into giving up secrets to keep the affair quiet. It puts the person and the nation at risk.
1 person likes this
• Philippines
14 Nov 12
In my country, if you are caught in the act, you're spouse can legally kill you and won't get imprisoned at all.
• Tucson, Arizona
14 Nov 12
Actually, He and She both say the affair started after he retired from the Army-- therefore, if that is true, he isn't subject to the UCMJ. I don't condone his behavior at all, but I don't necessarily believe we are being told the true, and entire story. First of all, Patraeus is a very intelligent man, who knows the importance of proper behavior. I really don't think he is stupid enough to send salacious emails to a bed mate-- come on. You don't get to be a four star general in the first place if you are that stupid. I am not, as a rule, a conspiracy theorist at all. But NOTHING about this particular story makes any logical sense, whatsoever. If the U.S. did have infidelity laws, as we used to have breach of promise laws for dumped women, then a whole lot of people would land in jail or be fined, or whatever the penalty would be. In the case of public figures,loss of job, reputation and family support are quite a punishment, and Patraeus isn't getting off lightly, I'm sure. We lost a valuable official over this, unfortunately.
@Sindelle (830)
• United States
14 Nov 12
Ah, ok I heard this morning he was still in but I guess my source got his information crossed but still you're right he of all people should know better. In a position like that especially where people look up to him he should know better. I feel like infidelity in the US is too widely acceptable. I agree we probably lost a valuable asset in some respects but I also heard the women he was having the affair with had access to confidential information. Was this confirmed? Because if that is true then that is just plain disgraceful and obviously a security compromise.
@debrakcarey (19925)
• United States
17 Nov 12
Both Broadwell (mistress) and the woman who called the FBI on her for threatening emails have been to the White House as guests. Broadwell's apartment contained boxes of documents, she also gave a speech implying she knew more than had been reported about the situation in Benghazi. And the woman who turned her in to the FBI has ties to Muslim groups, she planned and coordinated social functions in which high ranking military socialized with Muslims linked to terror organizations. The PLOT thickens.
• United States
16 Nov 12
In the big picture, I don't think he necessarily should have resigned because of it, unless of course it was to focus on his marriage instead of his job. On the other hand, the fact that it came to light is a sign of poor job performance. While it may hold some validity, I don't think blackmail is really an issue here. First off cat's out of the bag anyways. Secondly, real blackmail is a lot harder than if you don't go along with me I'll tell mom you broke some house rule. Blackmailing the head of the CIA... that's more like a Tom Clancy novel than actual reality. Not saying it can't happen, but it would be well beyond the means of most people. I think we also have unrealistic expectations of people who do certain jobs. Especially jobs like director of the CIA or the President. We expect them to keep up with Jone's and have a typical happy American family with 2.5 kids, a dog, and a house with a white picket fence. Then we expect him to do all these other things that we think people do. We fail to realize that they also work very demanding jobs, they can't come home and talk about their day at work, they often don't even have time to come home and see their families. I'm not saying it justifies cheating, but by the nature of the job, they are more so married to their work than their actual spouse.
@debrakcarey (19925)
• United States
17 Nov 12
No, we expect them to honor their vows, oaths and be trustworthy.
• United States
17 Nov 12
There are jobs that are highly demanding and time consuming, that make having time for a family life near impossible, just ask anyone who's been deployed. We have this unspoken expectation that our leaders should also be good family men. There's never been a president elected that wasn't married and I would safely say that we'll have female president long before we ever have a single president. I'm not saying marriage makes one unfit to do a job, but it creates a constant compromise of time and dedication. As I said, it's no excuse to have an affair, but the demands of some jobs really don't allow for having time for a family.
• United States
17 Nov 12
You make a lot of sense, knoodleknight! I have also seen people in such positions hang on to marriages for the sake of image. It is a stressful environment, and it takes a toll on any relationship.
• United States
14 Nov 12
If you noticed...everyone was outraged and cried for his head (President Clinton) when his affair came out...BUT...when it was discovered Hilary was standing by her man and she didn't feel the need to divorce him, he actually became a hero. He did. He's every man's man, just getting a little H*** at work. And women view him as a somewhat handsome older rich man, who better to have an affair with. If Bill Clinton was running in the primary against President Obama back in 2008, President Obama would have never won. Of course adultery is wrong, and of course when you hold a public office you come under public scrutiny. So I think its alright to express hot displeasure over an affair but (to me)there are more values and qualifiers as to if he can do his job besides his bedroom antic. Just saying.
• United States
14 Nov 12
I agree with a lot of what you say! (Here and on other posts!) I don't want to condone adultery. There are areas of many people's personal lives that I don't like, but I don't consider that when I think of their position in leadership.
@debrakcarey (19925)
• United States
17 Nov 12
used to be dysfunctional families weren't held up as a shinning example to admire and emulate.
• United States
22 Nov 12
I don't look to the head of the CIA or the President for family values. If they are able to do their job well, that's what matters. A good husband/father doesn't equal a good head of security.
@Sindelle (830)
• United States
14 Nov 12
Yes, he is a high ranking individual. He is fully aware that he needs to abide by the rules of the UCMJ(Uniformed Code Of Military Justice). Also as a member of the military (especially a general) his conduct should be good on and off duty since he represents the United States Armed Forces. Whether affairs are popular in America or not a person in his position is and should be held to a higher standard. His behavior is an embarrassment.
@Sindelle (830)
• United States
14 Nov 12
Correction this man was retired and did not start his affair until after he retired. I still do feel that in a position such as director of the CIA he should be held to a higher standard and set an example. This man clearly knows better. It bothers me how often I see people in positions of power having extra marital affairs. When I hear about it on the news it feels like just another day.
@debrakcarey (19925)
• United States
17 Nov 12
She accompanied him to Afghanistan while he was serving there.
@UmiNoor (3418)
• Malaysia
14 Nov 12
People in a position of power are expected to have a higher standard than normal people like us. When such people have an affair, it places them in a position to be blackmailed because they don't want their wives to know about their indiscretion. And being blackmailed to do something that may be illegal won't be good for the country. A person in power must be held at a higher standard and must not have any skeletons in the closet that will put him in a position that he will not be able to accomplish his duties effectively; be it having an affair or any other nasty things that he may have done in the past.
• United States
14 Nov 12
I think that to hold someone to a higher standard asks them to hide more aspects of their life. Most people have areas of their life, present or past, that wouldn't reflect well on them. To me, it seems healthier to have things out in the open than things in secret. Like you said, this can make them more susceptible to blackmail. But by open, I mean open among their family and friends. I don't parade my personal life at work and I expect others to do the same.
@debrakcarey (19925)
• United States
17 Nov 12
I believe what UmiNoor is refering to is ACCOUNTABILITY?
@mariaperalta (19096)
• Mexico
13 Nov 12
Your right there... as all these guys are human. And can all make muistakes like you and I.
• United States
16 Nov 12
True. None of us is immune from making mistakes.
@debrakcarey (19925)
• United States
17 Nov 12
So, if their 'mistakes' jeapordizes national security that's ok?
• United States
13 Nov 12
You do have a point. That's their personal life and it really isn't any of our business as long as it doesn't get in the way of him performing his job correctly. What I heard on tv somewhere was that he resigned from his position because of the affair. If that's true, I just don't get why he would quit just because of what he did. I guess for a politician, if he or she has an affair it could kind of affect their job as a politician. If they can't even be faithful to their spouse how are they supposed to effectively run our government and be truthful and honest with us
• United States
16 Nov 12
Thanks for your response! Yes, he did resign. It just brought me back to this topic, since a lot of pundits are making judgments about it.
@debrakcarey (19925)
• United States
17 Nov 12
Courtknee, you're ok with politicans and leaders lying then?
@millertime (1398)
• United States
14 Nov 12
It seems that extra marital affairs have been more readily accepted by people recently. I think it is a sign of the moral decay in our society and just because more people can tolerate or overlook it doesn't make it acceptable behavior, especially in our leaders. I always thought that people in positions of leadership should be held to a high standard. They should be people of honor and good character. They should lead by example and should be a role model for others to follow. By committing the act that he did, he demonstrated that he is deceitful and that he can easily betray the trust that others put in him. What he did was neither of good character or honorable. I agree with his decision to resign.
• United States
14 Nov 12
It seems that people in more conservative societies weren't immune from having multiple relationships. We could go the way of allowing polygamy, since that way each woman will get to call herself "wife" and have the social benefits. Or we could allow women to divorce their unfaithful husbands and go on to lead normal lives. In previous times, it was much harder for a single/divorced woman to live independently. There was also more stigma on her getting divorced and remarried. Cheating is awful, but it is a family issue.
• United States
14 Nov 12
I think it is more of a problem that he may have been kissing and telling. According to reports in the media, the mistress appeared to be in possession of information that was not general knowledge. He may have been compromising his job by inappropriately revealing information to someone without a 'need to know'. When, or if, that is the case, then he/she should be immediately removed from office because those type disclosures may jeopardize lives or national security. I think that as a rule we have held those in public office to a much higher standard than we hold ourselves and other J.Q. citizens. Perhaps we should when some of the political offices have so much riding on their proper administration. I think it was beneath the dignity of the office of the President for media to stoop to reporting on his affairs. It seems that many past presidents had indiscretions but it was at a time when media would have never dreamed of reporting those facts in a public forum. I think I prefer not to know about their indiscretions.
@debrakcarey (19925)
• United States
17 Nov 12
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@Mavic123456 (7910)
• Thailand
14 Nov 12
I am sorry but I think it is a "must" for a person running an office to be honest at all times. He is running an office and it is no joke. Specifically in his case since he runs CIA, needs, integrity and honesty. Furthermore, if the divorce is legal in America, why not do it first, since it is legal anyway. True that it is not our business or your business, but he is paid by your tax. If he is unfaithful to his wife, who has been there for him for days, hours and he promised to be faithful in the bond of marriage all the more how sure are you that "he is faitful to Americans", whose giving him a living thru taxes.
@Sindelle (830)
• United States
14 Nov 12
People of leadership in the US typically have a spouse and family. It makes them look good, helps their career, and helps them get elected. Its a bad reason to stay married to someone however I have no doubt that its the reason many get or stay married.
@Asylum (46826)
• Manchester, England
17 Nov 12
I do not condone cheating in a marriage, but that is a personal issue for the family to resolve. I see no reason why it should bear any relevance as afr as his job is concerned. If a waitress in a café or a bus driver were dismissed on those grounds then it would be viewed as totally inappropriate by the majority of society. Therefore it should be allowed to affect the employment of anyone ireespective of the office that they hold.
@debrakcarey (19925)
• United States
16 Nov 12
If a man would lie to the mother of his children, his mate, who else would he lie to? You willing to trust him? NOT me. As for Petreaus, he put himself in a position to be blackmailed. As a four star general and then as head of our intel community, that would mean he put his nation at risk. And then also, once you have proven yourself untrustworthy, you cannot ask the nation to trust you. YOU should be interested.
• Australia
15 Nov 12
As far as I'm concerned, what goes on between any number of people in thei bedroom is nobody's business but their own, and has absolutely no relevance to the public service of any of them unless what they are doing is illegal or harmful to anyone involved. Lash
@aerous (13475)
• Philippines
14 Nov 12
Yup! That is a valid reason because as a public servant. They must have good reputation to the public to be respected. The law and provision settings as the integrity of public officials. They must be of good character to serve the people well...
@rsa101 (13337)
• Philippines
14 Nov 12
I believe that he did it on his own by quitting the job. I do not know if there was anyone from the government who fired that person then I think that is wrong if that was done like that. But I think his resignation was a personal decision on his part and was not because he violated anything in his current position.
@jenny1015 (13394)
• Philippines
14 Nov 12
A candidate's credibility is at stake here. People would think that, if he was capable of lying to his wife for having an affair, how much more lying can he do when he is already in office? People would like to look up to a leader who values his family.
@stary1 (6622)
• United States
13 Nov 12
habibti320 I think we have to have standards and fidelity is one of them. Some claim..if you can't trust a person to be faithful in marriage does that mean he/she can't be trusted in other ways?? I say yes...Especially when you get to the level of President or head of CIA you really should be stronger than to give in to the weakness of an affair..I am really disappointed in Patreaus...yes he's human, but I thought he had more character... I feel sorry for his wife..it's a shame he put her through all this just for his own selfish reasons. You can't build a happiness on another's pain..imo