The sex lives of American presidents, all the way back to Thomas Jefferson, were not front-page news, as they would be today. The private lives of presidents and other public officials made for gossip among Washington insiders but were not considered the general public's business. And when — and if — America ever gets over its schizophrenic attitude toward sex and the human body, things like the current Anthony Weiner scandal will be non-stories.
I had a chat, years ago, with an acquaintance of mine who worked with politicos in D.C., and she observed that some of the most idealistic, talented and otherwise decent politicians are also philanderers. She had come to the inevitable conclusion that their sexuality need not — and doesn't — corrupt their ideals or their work. Jefferson, again, comes to mind. And then there's FDR, JFK and LBJ, et. al.
Indeed, it's our collective, cultural attitudes towards consensual adult sex that does more harm than the sex itself. It also disrupts and makes a mockery of our political process by diverting our attention away from much more important issues. America's founding fathers and some of our greatest presidents — and the media that covered them — understood this. Why can't we?
Charles Hilton, Baltimore