McCain, Obama asked about infidelity

MCCAIN, OBAMA ASKED ABOUT INFIDELITY…. CBS News’ Katie Couric continues to air a pretty interesting series in which she asks the exact same question to both John McCain and Barack Obama. Last night, viewers saw Couric ask both candidate why they think so many prominent political figures risk so much by committing adultery.

McCain really didn’t want to talk about this.

Indeed, he told Couric, “I can’t comment on that.” Couric noted that Americans are often amazed that so many politicians commit adultery, and noted three examples: Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards, and Bill Clinton. (Note to Couric: Republicans commit adultery, too.) McCain again wanted no part of this, saying, “I really don’t make any comments about that…. I want to be a good president and try to lead an honorable life, I’ve been an imperfect servant and so I’m not judging.”

As long-time readers know, this has been an issue of considerable interest to me — I wrote a piece for the Monthly print edition two years ago, arguing that the adultery issue, which dominated the 1992 election, might become significant this year. McCain is, after all, the first admitted adulterer in American history to win a major-party nomination.

What’s more, the LA Times had an item in July that revealed previously unreported details about McCain’s messy personal life. McCain turned his back on his wife after she was seriously injured in a car accident, committed adultery, and left the mother of his children when he found a younger, wealthier woman. Worse, McCain fudged the details his own memoir, explaining that he was separated from his first wife before he began dating his second wife. He wasn’t. He also insisted he’d been divorced for months before remarrying. That wasn’t true, either — the article explained, “McCain obtained an Arizona marriage license on March 6, 1980, while still legally married to his first wife.” Just five weeks separated his divorce from his second marriage.

It seems like a salacious story that the political world might obsess over for a while. A presidential candidate, running on his personal background, is found to have a messy past. The story has sex, drama, and fairly obvious lies, raising questions about McCain’s character and what the “family-values” crowd might have to say.

And yet, nothing came of it. News outlets, once consumed with “character” questions, decided to give McCain a pass, and the Republican campaign no doubt sighed in relief when questions never materialized.

No wonder McCain looked so uncomfortable when Couric brought this up.