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The Irrelevance Of Infidelity Or, Have We Learned Nothing In 20 Years?

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Confronted on television with his alleged history of adultery, the candidate denied the affair, but acknowledged “causing pain in my marriage.”

With no more than that, we Americans decided the matter was one between the candidate and his wife — and we elected Bill Clinton the 42nd president of the United States.

That was 1992. Here we go again.

Two decades later, it seems that our obsession over the private lives of our public officials has been renewed.

I had thought that, post-Clinton, we had learned our lesson, but former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s admission that he fathered a child as the product of an affair with a woman who was not his wife has become a singular focus. 

The Schwarzenegger news is tragic, certainly for the heartbreak its apparently causing his now-estranged wife and their children.

And Schwarzenegger’s years as a Hollywood movie star before entering the governor’s mansion almost certainly meant that this new marital scandal would become gossip fodder.

Let’s be clear, however. That’s all this news is: tabloid trash.

The birth of Schwarzenegger’s “love child” took place years before he became California’s 38th governor, the separation of he and his wife as a result of the affair occurred after his term had ended, and no one has suggested that the old affair or the child affected Schwarzenegger’s performance as chief executive.

Further, long before this news broke, Schwarzenegger had declared that with the end of his governorship, he would seek no other elected office.

All of this means that the news of his infidelity should never have taken on a political dimension, if even it should really have been made public at all.

The fact that it’s done so sends precisely the wrong message.

Public officials ought to be allowed to have a private life, provided that the conduct of that private life doesn’t inhibit an official’s public job.

The president of the United States and his family lives in a publicly owned home, yet we have no expectation — nor should we — that we would be privy to the intricacies of Barack and Michelle Obama’s marriage, or details involving their daughters.

And yet two political spouses apparently are nervous about their husbands running for president next year, their anxiety driven by the details of their respective marriages.

Which is why political reporting of the Schwarzenegger story sends exactly the wrong message.

Daniels reportedly left her husband, GOP Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, in the 1990s with the couple’s children. She married another man, only to divorce him and eventually reunite with Daniels.

Gingrich began dating her husband, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, when he was still married to his previous wife.

Neither woman should have to worry.

Let me be clear: I am no fan of either Mitch Daniels or Newt Gingrich. I would never vote for either one, but their marriages aren’t the reason why.

Believe me, both men offer plenty of legitimate reasons to defeat either one in 2012.

Before becoming chief executive of the Hoosier State, Daniels served as George W. Bush’s budget director. That means Daniels was a key architect of squandering the first federal surplus in 30 years and driving the country back into the deficit ditch.

Why on Earth would you vote for him?

And then, Gingrich…well, he’s Newt Gingrich.

He’s a walking political disaster who appearently doesn’t know what he believes in.

These are the sorts of issues which should decide who gets elected president. Questions of who was married to whom, and were they faithful, should not. Those are the business of husband, wife, and no one else.

We came to understand that in 1992. Have we forgotten?

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About Scott Nance

  • Baronius

    First of all, Scott, America didn’t decide that personal lives don’t matter. A plurality of Americans decided that Clinton was the better choice than Bush, on balance. Secondly, private lives of politicians have been in the news a lot since 1992. Sanford and Edwards have been the biggies, but there have been plenty of others. Thirdly, I don’t think that the Schwarzenegger scandal is related to politics: he and his wife are world-famous.

    For me, character, experience, and policy all matter in a candidate. There are several candidates with whom I agree on policy but couldn’t support due to their poor character and/or lack of experience. I also think the public/private divide is fictitious. Clinton and Gingrich have character problems, not private character problems.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Scott –

    The president of the United States and his family lives in a publicly owned home, yet we have no expectation – nor should we – that we would be privy to the intricacies of Barack and Michelle Obama’s marriage, or details involving their daughters.

    I disagree strongly with that statement! Given the rabid hatred the Right has for President Obama, if there were any kind of infidelity or impropriety by Obama, do you really think the Right would stand respectfully off to one side? No, they would not! You’d see a political circus that would make the Lewinsky matter pale in comparison.

    The days of Camelot, when anyone who knew what the president was doing wrong in his off time, are gone, and never to return.

  • Baronius

    Another thing, that article you linked to was tabloid trash. It pretended to be a discussion of the campaign, but the whole point of it was to shine a light on embarrassing stories from the candidates’ home lives. As far as I know, everyone knows about Newt’s marital history, and no one knows about Mitch’s. Mitch’s story doesn’t say anything about the man’s character. So why bring it up?

    And the story was wrong about the focus on Clinton’s marriage being a new thing in politics. I remember comments about Carter’s and Reagan’s marriages, and rumors about GHWB. The new thing was that a known philanderer made it through the guantlet, not that a gauntlet existed.

  • Clavos

    Presidential infidelity has never been an issue for a president who was otherwise popular; Kennedy was a philanderer and nobody on either side of the aisle cared.

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    Aside from the odd abundance of single-sentence paragraphs, which give off an air of ADD, this article is bizarre.

    On page 1 you dismiss the Arnold coverage as tabloid trash and then on page 2 the article becomes tabloid trash when it focuses on Republican-candidate wives (and, yes I know Daniels isn’t official yet).

    Are you trying to put one over on everyone or is the reader supposed to believe that you forgot the lesson of Clinton within the middle of your own article?

    “the news of his infidelity should never have taken on a political dimension, if even it should really have been made public at all.”

    This makes it sound like you aren’t even aware of the story you are covering. It’s political because the affair occurred while Arnold was Governor. It’s fair for the people of CA to wonder if anything improper happened with funds, et al, considering Arnold commuted the murder sentence of a political ally’s kid. Who knows what rules he might have bent/broken for the mother of his child?

    As far as whether “it should really have been made public at all”, the other woman was going to come out so Arnold’s hand was forced.

  • http://sorryalltheclevernamesaretaken.blogspot.com/ Robert

    I agree with Baronius……..character is the issue. A politician who deceives his wive certainly wouldn’t have a problem lying to the “people”.

  • Meg

    Honestly, I think that America’s obsession with physical fidelity does a few things:

    1) It conflates sexual compatibility with compatibility: are having the same sex acts-style-frequency preferences really that important when choosing who you will live with, make financial decisions with, have children with, and share life with?

    2) On this note – it creates this obsession with sexually pleasing your partner. (OK, most often, it makes women become obsessed with pleasing their partners. I mean, that’s what Cosmo and Glamor are about, no?) Because…if they aren’t getting it from you, they might get it from someone else. Which means – you’re a failure, as is your marriage. Which leads to

    3) (Kinda sorta agree with Mackinnon on this one) Women engaging in sexual activity that isn’t exactly geared towards their own pleasure, but towards pleasuring their partner. (And female narcissism, and insecurity, and obsession with being an object of physical attraction.)

    4) And…enmity between women: so – either you have to be physically perfect in every way, or someone else might seduce your partner. And because physical infidelity equals failure of marriage, any other attractive and flirty women becomes a threat. Women who catch their husbands cheating are more likely to call the adultress a whore than their lying, cheating husband.
    5) Leads to lying, victimizes women whose husbands cheat, leads to divorce. So – if a couple discusses and sets boundaries for extra-marital relationships…and certain things are ok and not ok, the husband’s less likely to cheat and fall in love with his secretary, and infidelity no longer produces a cataclysmic existential relationship crisis.

    Maybe if America had gotten over it’s fairy-tale conflation of sexual, romantic, emotional, and familial love in marriage, Schwarzie wouldn’t be alienated from his wife and kids right now.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    Presidential infidelity has never been an issue for a president who was otherwise popular; Kennedy was a philanderer and nobody on either side of the aisle cared.

    But times have changed since then. I suspect you’ll find that a president’s – or most politicians’ – personal failings when it comes to sexual matters were essentially ignored before the Clinton era. IIRC, FDR and Jefferson both fooled around, and I’m pretty doggone sure that a few other presidents did too…but it was never made a national issue.

    But our culture has changed – we desire, nay, demand news that is up-to-the-minute, and look down our noses at those who don’t know what happened in the past week. I think Kenny Loggins’ song Dirty Laundry perfectly caught the nature of the coming change in our culture.

  • Cannonshop

    I have a different take than most of the conservatives here… Infidelity? well, it may be a POSITIVE trait, or even a useful one. A famous general once said “a man who won’t fuck, won’t fight.”

    And there have been numerous examples of people we lionize now, whose peccadillos both before office, and in office, would be major scandals today (including one major scandal from just a few years ago, revolving around Thomas Jefferson, who actually went and BOUGHT himself a mistress.)

    How seriously a man takes his wedding vows, versus how seriously he takes his job, might actually be a better metric for judging his character than merely whether or not he’s faithful to his wife…or she to him. Politicians Lie, kind of like how mammals breathe, water runs down-hill, and gravity holds us to the earth.

    besides, sex-scandals are far and away easier to use as a distraction, than military expeditions.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Meg –

    Maybe if America had gotten over it’s fairy-tale conflation of sexual, romantic, emotional, and familial love in marriage, Schwarzie wouldn’t be alienated from his wife and kids right now.

    As a happily-married-with-children man (nineteen years and going strong), I very strongly disagree with you.

    I do hold Ah-nold fully responsible. Why? Many (perhaps most) decent-acting-and-decent-looking married men will tell you (quietly, and if they trust you not to tell their wives) that after they got married, after a few years women begin dropping hints, or begin standing a little closer, or otherwise begin making themselves – ahem – obviously available. I don’t know the percentages, but many men fail that test…but many men still pass, thank God! Those of us who make the right decision can’t help but think back, on the one hand wistfully thinking what a wonderful roll in the hay that one girl would have been…but on the other hand thanking God that we were strong enough, that we loved our wives and our families enough, to resist the temptation presented. The stories I could tell….

    So Ah-nold, for all his legendary physical strength, was not strong enough to say no. It’s with no small amount of pride that I can say that (if only in this way) I’m a stronger man than Arnold Schwarzenegger!

    That said, despite a man’s or a woman’s failings in their personal lives, such does NOT mean that he or she can’t be a good or even a great politician. Thomas Jefferson comes to mind. The only difference is that our modern media culture and our daily, even hourly demand for ‘dirty laundry’ won’t allow it.

  • Baronius

    If a guy wants to keep chasing skirts, physical perfection or a great time in the sack isn’t going to stop him. It’ll distract him for a bit, that’s all. If he’s looking to settle down, and he has more maturity than a 17-year-old, he knows what compatibility really means.

    Anyway, this isn’t about America’s hangups; it’s about the Schwarzeneggers’. A lot of couples have come to terms with extramarital relationships, or at least one spouse thinks they have, but choosing someone else even for a night is an implied rejection of the spouse. No terms can eliminate the pain of rejection.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Glenn #10, well said.

    It sounds like Meg is doing a little conflation of her own. If nothing else, she’s moving the goalposts: if you “allow” a husband or wife to fool around, it’s not really cheating. I’ve heard lots of rationalization to this effect, how we’re not monogamous after all, etc. But it always seems like wounded people trying to sell a bill of goods to justify the hurt they feel deep inside.

    Like Baronius says, “No terms can eliminate the pain of rejection.”

    Faithfulness to one’s spouse is not a fairy tale, a myth or an “American thang.”

  • Clavos

    I do hold Ah-nold fully responsible.

    Doubtless, he doesn’t care whether you do or don’t. Nor should he, it’s none of your business, anymore than it was our business when Kennedy was humping Monroe or Lewinsky was swallowing Clinton — except when it’s on company time or our dime

    Now, if they’re spending tax revenues recklessly, THAT’S our business, but where they put their penises is not.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    I agree – it truly is none of my business. But it is still his fault and no one else’s for his failure to be strong enough to stay true to one’s spouse. He failed the test.

    That said, I do extend all sympathy not only to his “love child”, but also to his child by Ms. Shriver that was born the same week. My wife has often told me how hurt she was to find that her dad’s mistress was pregnant at the same time her mother was pregnant, and I suspect that his children within the marriage may feel the same way.

    Was he a bad governor? I don’t know – there’s good and bad to be said about his tenure…and part of me still really likes the man. It’s not because he’s a famous actor – I used to really like Mel Gibson, but now I won’t rent his movies at all, simply because of his racism. But Ah-nold is human, and while I hold him responsible for his failings, at the same time I understand that he’s only human, and I understand the temptation he felt. You probably would too, if the one doing the tempting was not only something that stepped out of your puerile fantasies, but whose ex-lover was a Playboy model. I’m not kidding. What really gets me is that even though I’m not exactly a Greek icon of manliness, the attraction was certainly mutual.

    I stayed true…but I was so incredibly tempted – it’s hard to put it into words. Imagine, if you will, working beside your own personal sexual fantasy for a couple years, and then effectively turning her down when she made herself available to you. What’s left is admitting anonymously on some blog the great trial that your marriage faced that you dare not admit to your wife…and she will never know the temptation you resisted to stay true to her.

    That’s why, while I do hold him responsible, at the same time I don’t utterly condemn him. It ain’t easy.

  • OkayDokey

    “there’s good and bad to be said about his tenure”

    um, the good was…?

  • Lee

    I don’t think extramarital affairs are morally wrong. When you say someone has to be faithful to their spouse, it amounts to saying that their spouse owns their sexuality. I believe consensual sex between consenting adults, who ever they are, is a fundamental human right, just like freedom of speech or freedom of religion. It’s one thing to say being faithful is a good idea, but it’s quite another to say not doing so is actually wrong.

    And as to the argument that affairs are wrong because they break a promise or agreement to be faithful between couples, I think an agreement that involves restricting fundamental rights is by its very nature nonbinding.

  • Jordan Richardson

    So deception isn’t wrong because we have the “freedom” to lie to other human beings?

    Interesting, Lee, but I think that’s a load of shit.

  • Clavos

    So then, if I were married, had an affair and came home and told my wife about it, it would then not be a “deception,” and therefore not wrong.

    I like that.

  • Lee

    Jordan,

    People lie and deceive each other all the time about any number of things. I don’t think you can say lying and deception are automatically wrong–it depends on the context and subject matter.

  • Clavos

    Yeah, Jordan, haven’t you heard of Situation Ethics?

  • Jordan Richardson

    Lee,

    People lie and deceive each other all the time about any number of things.

    Absolutely. And? People do a number of things. Human nature generally sucks donkey balls.

    I don’t think you can say lying and deception are automatically wrong–it depends on the context and subject matter.

    Well, you can say it’s “automatically wrong” to deceive another human being. You can suggest that you lied for their best interest or whatever. In the context of this discussion, though, I would argue that your spouse would find deception very wrong indeed. Of course, I don’t know your spouse. He or she might get off on being lied to.

    The point of my statement, something I thought was kind of clear, was that having the “freedom” to do something doesn’t magically make it the right thing to do.

    What you argued, Lee, was that “not being faithful” was not “fundamentally wrong.” Why not? Because sex between two consenting adults, ANY two consenting adults, is a “freedom” we enjoy by the societal rules we invented? Hardly. Not being faithful is by nature fundamentally wrong because you’re breaking the covenant you presumably made with your spouse when you got married. Did your spouse “consent” to your other relationship?

    If you’ve got some other sort of arrangement, ie. an open relationship or whatever, you’re clearly not “in the wrong.” But then you wouldn’t be “cheating,” either.

  • Jordan Richardson

    There are a number of “fundamental human rights” that I have that aren’t “right” in all situations, nor do they actually work out.

    I have the right to luxuries, vices and personal pleasure, for instance, but I don’t have the right to those pleasures if those pleasures are illegal. While the fundamental human rights presumably exist to me without “cost of privilege,” that’s not really true unless I consider any other rules or regulations or laws null and void. My exercise of my fundamental human rights isn’t limitless, either, because I’m bound primarily by laws, rules and responsibilities. I apparently, under the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, have the right to property. But I have to take on a number of responsibilities to exercise that right. I have to pay for it. I have to maintain it and “keep it up to code.” And so on.

    The UN also says that I have the right to leave my country and return to it. But I don’t unless I satisfy a number of terms (I need a passport, I can only be gone so long, and so forth).

    When you enter into a covenant of marriage with a life partner, you presumably assume other binding responsibilities that you agree on with your spouse as you go through life. Perhaps you agree to provide a safe place, for instance, or you agree to remain faithful to one another. If you violate those responsibilities, I would argue that such a violation was morally wrong and akin, if not equal to, deception. In that deception can be defined as a series of acts to propagate “beliefs” that are not true, cheating on your spouse would certainly count because you are betraying the fundamental trust your spouse is entitled to. If your spouse is not under the belief that your marriage is one built on “faithfulness” in that sense, you clearly aren’t betraying any trust.

    But to suggest that it’s “right” because you have the fundamental human right to have sex with another consenting adult is simply hogwash. It might not be wrong depending on the terms in your marriage, but it’s those terms that make it “not wrong.”

  • Jordan Richardson

    Yeah, Jordan, haven’t you heard of Situation Ethics?

    Pffft. What’s love got to do with it?

  • zingzing

    frankly, i couldn’t care less what anyone else is doing in the bedroom. (unless they’re actively trying to legislate against their stupid guilt, that is. or unless it’s jessica biel. oh, to be a fly on the wall…)

    i’ve cheated and i’m 99% sure i’ve been cheated on (no sense directly confirming the matter), so i’m no better. arnold and all the others will get their comeuppance within their families. and they’ll deserve it. but the public sphere is not for private matters.

    let the one without sin, etc, etc.

  • Lee

    Jordan,

    Why exactly does someone have a “right” to trust their spouse? That sounds childish to me.

  • Lee

    Jordan,

    Whether what I’m saying is “hogwash” or not is a matter or opinion. And again, you go on and on that breaking the “terms” of a “covenant” is wrong, but you don’t show why exactly this agreement is morally binding. There are things referred to as “nonbinding agreements” being made all the time. It’s the financial aspects of marriage that are legally binding, not a promise not to sleep with anyone else. What if one of the “terms” of a couple’s marriage is that they never divorce? Would this mean that if one of the spouses later wanted a divorce it would be wrong of them to get one? And if the answer is no, then why is breaking an agreement to remain faithful necessarily wrong either?

  • Clavos

    Using your logic in #26 Lee, opens the door to making anything acceptable behavior — not just in marriages, but any human endeavor.

    We should let Bernie Madoff out of jail, apologize, and compensate him for the indignities he’s suffered.

    Woo Hoo! I can’t wait to figure out who I’m going to screw next!

  • Lee

    Clavos,

    You misunderstood what I said. I didn’t say that no agreement of any kind is morally binding. I just said I don’t think an agreement to be sexually faithful is. Again, I think you have to look at the agreement in question before deciding whether it’s okay to break it or not. What Bernie Madoff did was horrendous, he should certainly never be let out of jail.

  • Clavos

    I just said I don’t think an agreement to be sexually faithful is.

    Why not? Most of western culture does. Not doing so jeopardizes the stability of marriage, which is already shaky on a cultural level.

    Not respecting vows of fidelity just makes marriage even less of a commitment, so why not do away with marriage altogether? That, at least, would be a more honorable and honest way to achieve what you advocate.

  • Lee

    Clavos,

    I don’t think fidelity is binding because, as I said, I think the right to have sex with other consenting adults is a fundamental right of self-expression. I don’t think an “agreement” can nullify that.

    Even if something “jeopardizes the stability of marriage,” it’s not clear that makes it morally wrong. It’s not clear marriage is morally necessary.

    And I find our society’s sanctimoniousness about the “sacredness” of vows of fidelity to be far from honest and honorable. When you listen to most marriage vows, fidelity is only one of many things that are promised. If a couple say they’ll be together “’til death do us part,” then isn’t getting a divorce a breach of those vows? Why is only the fidelity part of the vows sacred and inviolable? Considering either all of it or none of it sacred would be a far more honorable way to go.

    And by the way, “most of western culture” once thought many things that have since been abandoned–for example, that blacks are inferior to whites.

  • zingzing

    “Why is only the fidelity part of the vows sacred and inviolable?”

    if you both decide that it’s cool to sleep with other people, all well and good. if you don’t, and therefore one of you is forced to sneak around and lie, then that’s not good. if you are honest about it and tell your spouse, you could honestly expect to get your nuts ripped off and half your paycheck going towards alimony. but that’s the choice you made.

  • Clavos

    Point (and game) zingzing.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Why exactly does someone have a “right” to trust their spouse? That sounds childish to me.

    Leaving aside what’s “childish” about trust, who said anything about having a “right” to trust your spouse?

    You’re the one talking about “rights,” justifying extra-marital affairs (or “self-expression”) in the shaky and shady context of “fundamental rights” between consenting adults. In your apparent quest to be mature about it, you’re more than willing to swing the door wide open on the entire realm of morality.

    I’m not, though. I take my marriage vows seriously because they mean something to me. Yes, all of them.

  • Lee

    Jordan,

    One of the major arguments made as to why extramarital affairs are wrong is that they are a breach of trust. This is why I raised the issue of whether there’s an actual right to trust your spouse.

    And zingzing, I think to say that people need to be honest with their spouse and have their spouse “agree” that they can sleep with other people is something I find very problematic. In the first place, it’s something that’s likely to do more harm than good. Would you really say that if someone’s happily married but wants to have an affair, it’s a better outcome if they tell their spouse and the spouse divorces them than if they have the affair secretly and the spouse never finds out and the marriage stays happy? In the real world, honesty does not always lead to the best results. And by saying that both spouses need to agree that it’s okay, you’re giving them veto power over each other’s behavior. That doesn’t seem right to me.

  • Jordan Richardson

    This is why I raised the issue of whether there’s an actual right to trust your spouse.

    An actual right in terms of what?

    Again, a marriage is a moral, legal, emotional, physical contract. The elements of that contract are subjective, for the most part. If you choose to not trust your spouse or to maintain an air of “dishonesty” in the best interest of the marriage, that’s your business and that’s something that’s up to the confines of your relationship.

    I would suggest, however, that you’re being, at a minimum, incredibly unfair to your spouse if you think that your dishonesty is in the “best interest” of your marriage. You’re suggesting that they don’t have the right to the truth unless you deem it to be in their best interest. Doing otherwise would surely be a compromise of your behaviour and we wouldn’t want that.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Would you really say that if someone’s happily married but wants to have an affair, it’s a better outcome if they tell their spouse and the spouse divorces them than if they have the affair secretly and the spouse never finds out and the marriage stays happy?

    Yes, it’s a far better outcome to have the spouse divorce the cheating fucker and get on with it. Cheating is not a compliment, it does not reinforce a happy marriage, it is not an “exercise of self-expression.” It’s low behaviour and all you’re doing is attempting to rationalize it with cold legalese. Once again: hogwash.

  • Lee

    Jordan,

    I don’t see the point of this discussion continuing. You see what I say as “hogwash,” frankly I feel the same way about what your saying. Let’s call it a day. I’ve stated how I feel and why–take it or leave it.

  • zingzing

    “Would you really say that if someone’s happily married but wants to have an affair, it’s a better outcome if they tell their spouse and the spouse divorces them than if they have the affair secretly and the spouse never finds out and the marriage stays happy? In the real world, honesty does not always lead to the best results.”

    well, i’d say it’s hard to be happily married if you want to have an affair and your spouse doesn’t want to or want you to. you’re heading for a train wreck at that point. yes, having an affair and not telling your partner is, in a certain light, preferable, if you want to stay married. but you’ve fucked around and lied (even if only by omission,) about it. that’s nothing to be proud of.

    “And by saying that both spouses need to agree that it’s okay, you’re giving them veto power over each other’s behavior. That doesn’t seem right to me.”

    or you could both agree to fuck around, and that’s cool, and yes, you do maintain veto power and honesty with each other. open relationships offer the best of both worlds, but they have the pitfalls and traps of any other relationship. honesty is the key to any good relationship. it’s often the case (and i know this through personal experience), that lies just build upon lies, and you eventually find yourself in a crushing tumult of lies that you can’t even keep straight. maybe you think you’re sparing your partner, but you end up hurting yourself.

    and yes, your partner does have an amount of control over what you do. that’s what being in a relationship is all about. you give a part of yourself to that person. try it out. it has its own rewards.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I’ve stated how I feel and why–take it or leave it.

    Well, no. You haven’t really stated why you think dishonesty is okay. You’ve made passing reference to the potential “rightness” of infidelity because it falls under your “fundamental human right” to self-expression, but you haven’t stated why it would be okay to cheat if you took the vows of marriage the least bit seriously.

    When I tell you that I believe trust in marriage is important and that spouses do have the right to trust one another, you think it’s “childish.”

    As zing said, “your partner does have an amount of control over what you do.” That’s just the way human relationships work, you know. Compromise and all that silly, childish bullshit. That may be something you’re willing to discard because it somehow impedes on your right to “happiness,” but the amount of rhetorical tap-dancing you’re doing to justify it is quite strange.

  • Jordan Richardson

    And you still haven’t stated why you don’t think married people have a right to trust their spouses.

  • Lee

    Jordan,

    You’re right. I think marriage vows are silly on their face because they involve making promises that in many cases people can’t keep, and in others, involve promising things that I think it’s unrealistic to hold someone to and expect them to keep. I certainly wouldn’t expect someone I married to never have sex with anyone else, even if that was something we had agreed to. That’s just how I feel.

    And as far as trust, your belief that spouses have a right to trust each other is a right is just that, a belief. I think human beings have certain basic rights and I don’t think trust is one of them. That’s all there is to it. You haven’t really provided a rationale for why it is a right other than your belief.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I think marriage vows are silly on their face because they involve making promises that in many cases people can’t keep, and in others, involve promising things that I think it’s unrealistic to hold someone to and expect them to keep.

    Yep, so don’t get married. Problem solved.

    I certainly wouldn’t expect someone I married to never have sex with anyone else, even if that was something we had agreed to.

    I would. I don’t see the point in getting married if I have the intention of having sex with someone else. That’s just how I feel.

    your belief that spouses have a right to trust each other is a right is just that, a belief

    Yep. And your notion that human beings have “certain basic rights” is true, but your interpretation of how those rights play out is a belief. You believe that having sex with other consenting adults is a form of self-expression that nothing should get in the way of, whereas I believe that marriage can also be a form of self-expression and of your desire to love, cherish, honour another human being. Call it corny, but it’s certainly how I interpret the same set of “basic rights.”

    I believe that my wife has a RIGHT to trust me, just as I believe children have a RIGHT to trust their parents. There’s no reason beyond my basic humanity to believe that these rights are just or moral or what have you. But there’s no reason beyond your worldview to suggest that the opposite is true. At best, we’re at an impasse with respect to how we interpret what our rights are. The only difference is that I don’t disagree with your right to sexual self-expression in the least. I simply consider cheating and lying to a spouse who trusts you to be wrong. I’m not sure how this is such a contestable, childish conception, but you seem to treat the entire idea of trust with a degree of contempt. I presume that’s couched in what appears to be a very self-absorbed point of view, one void of self-sacrifice and love. One that is, as I said before, very cold.

  • Jordan Richardson

    You could argue further that almost all of our social constructs, friendships or whatever, are “silly on their face” because they imply a number of rules and organizational constructs. They imply a sense of courtesy, of sacrifice. They imply that you “act like a friend” much in the same way that you “act like a spouse” under the construct of a marital relationship. We take certain “vows” every day when we function in a social sense and many of them are quite “silly on their face” if we only examine life from a point of view of self-interest.

    But life isn’t lived on paper, Lee. Life isn’t just a collection of rights that we’re granted from somewhere (the law?).

    Furthermore, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says in Article 1: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

    Transfer that to the concept of marriage. What’s dignified about cheating on your spouse? How is lying to your spouse and defying your agreed-upon vows an action taken in the “spirit of brotherhood?”

    A big component of fundamental human rights is that human beings be treated with dignity. When you cheat, you’re treating your spouse like a moron. When you lie, you’re taking the other person for a fool. That, Lee, is far from treating the other person with dignity – something they’re entitled to as a fundamental human right.

    So I guess I wonder how you interpret the notion of dignity in the scope of human rights. When I think that my wife has the right to dignity as a human being, as a woman, I do everything in my power to ensure that that’s the case. When you look at the case, you see sex as a right of self-expression that you won’t be denied.

    From here, I think you only care about your rights.

  • Lee

    Jordan,

    I actually don’t want to get married, but I don’t think it’s your place to tell someone else whether they should get married or not. People have a right to make their own choices.

  • Jordan Richardson

    And people have a right to offer their own opinions, even when they’re as unwelcome as a racist grandmother.

    Like I can tell you “Hey, Lee, don’t wear yellow.” Then you can go ahead and wear all the yellow you want. What a world!

  • zingzing

    lee, you shouldn’t get married until you have a different opinion on marriage, relationships, commitment, etc. that’s just bloody obvious, and it’ll save you a lot of time, money and heartache.

  • Baronius

    Well, if the Post (and people like Scott Nance, who spread the Post article) were trying to get Daniels out of the race by threatening his wife, they succeeded. Daniels quit the race, citing his family’s concern as his only reason.

  • zingzing

    “Well, if the Post (and people like Scott Nance, who spread the Post article) were trying to get Daniels out of the race by threatening his wife, they succeeded.”

    that’s a long stride you’ve got there, baronius, and backwards.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius –

    Please show me where a Post article threatened Mitch Daniels’ wife.

  • Baronius

    Zing, I’m not sure what you mean. But clearly the Post was gossipping under the guise of reporting on the possible impact of gossip. Gingrich cheated on his wives, but there at the top of the story was a picture of Daniels and his wife, and we were told that if he campaigns, the press would be prying into her past mistakes.

    And it worked. He quit the race. “In the end, I was able to resolve every competing consideration but one, but that, the interests and wishes of my family, is the most important consideration of all.”

  • zingzing

    if nance saying we shouldn’t pay attention to such gossip when considering our political leaders makes him guilty of “threatening [daniel’s] wife,” then you are guilty of listening to such gossip on gossip and furthering its spread. but the leap you took from nance’s point (which squares pretty much with your own) to what you posted in #47 is nonsensical and full of political hyperbole.

    and if you think the washington post (the washington post, baronius,) is trying to push republican candidates out of the race, you clearly have never read the washington post.

    and after the republicans made such a big deal out of marital messiness a decade ago, i think you’re eating the shit sandwich you made for yourself. sanctimony has an ass end, and you’re eye-to-stink eye with it. i’ll think of another poop joke in a minute… meh. tough shit, i guess.