HIGH INFIDELITY….Fresh off his triumphant guest blogging gig, Steve Benen has a piece in the print version of the Washington Monthly this month about a trait that three of the front runners for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination have in common:

Lurking just over the horizon are liabilities for three Republicans who have topped several national, independent polls for the GOP’s favorite 2008 nominee: Sen. John McCain (affair, divorce), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (affair, divorce, affair, divorce), and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (divorce, affair, nasty divorce). Together, they form the most maritally challenged crop of presidential hopefuls in American political history.

Personally, I think McCain is the only one of the three who has a realistic shot at the nomination. Giuliani is too socially liberal and would genuinely have trouble defending his messy past, while Gingrich is just a little too weird to hold up to the scrutiny of a presidential campaign.

McCain, conversely, is a serious contender, and I frankly would have expected that qualms over a divorce three decades ago would be stretching things even for the family values brigade. Surprise!

Carrie Gordon Earll, a spokesperson for [James] Dobson’s Focus on the Family, recently made it clear that the adultery issue hasn’t lost any of its toxicity among evangelicals. “If you have a politician, an elected official, and they can’t be trusted in their own marriage, how can I trust them with the budget? How can I trust them with national security?” she asked me.

And over at his own site, Steve says that the Family Research Council’s Tom McClusky told him, “If not a disqualifier, [adultery] is something that would make Christian conservative voters put candidates in an adverse category. It would, most definitely.”

Does this mean that making up with Jerry Falwell and speaking at Liberty University was just a bit of pandering for nothing? Maybe. Read the whole thing and decide for yourself. 2008 could be a messy year.

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