Is Everything “Fair Game” in Politics? Should it Be?

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May 19, 2014 by gregrabidoux2013

I never pictured Lincoln in a tank-top.

When I ran for US Congress in 2010 I was asked all sorts of questions. A lot of them were actually pretty much on target. They gave me good insight into what was on the minds of the average voter. Jobs. The economy. Guns. The price of gas. Same-Sex marriage. And a few more on jobs. But about 1 out of every 4 questions gave me pause. At least the first few times I was hit up.

Where did your parents grow up? Do you keep a gun at your house? Where? Did you live with your wife before you got married? Did you ever date more than one woman at once? Have you ever spanked your kid? Do you work out? How often? Do you suffer from high blood pressure? How much do you weigh? What did I think of the fact that there was (gasp) a “colored family” now living in the White House?

One fella even asked me if I heard voices at night. Turns out he did. A lot. But he also told me he had been abducted by aliens at least three times. The good news was that he had, so he claimed, been offered a top secret job to spy on the aliens for the US. But I couldn’t tell anyone. Well, I am breaking my silence now. I hope his cover is intact.

alien cartoon

Yep, we took him but I won’t say more. Unless you keep buying me more of these slushy-things, they are cosmically good!

But why do I share all this, other than the possible therapeutic value?

Well, recently, Reince Priebus, the Chairman of the Republican Party National Committee was a guest on the long-running (if not highly rated) TV show “Meet the Press.” He was asked what he thought about another fellow GOP luminary, Karl Rove, who said he thought Hillary Clinton may have suffered brain damage from a blood clot she had back in 2010. He also implied that this “damage” plus her “advanced age” (she is 66) made her potentially “unfit” to ever be president.

Hillary Clinton podium

If Bill could jog in short shorts and get elected why should a blood clot stop me?

Chairman Priebus responded by emphasizing that such issues as her health, possible damage from her blood clot treatment and age were all matters of public knowledge and that “we” had a right to know the “truth.” And that Mr. Rove did not have to apologize for indelicately trampling upon Madame Clinton’s state of health.

Which made think about what, if anything, is not fair game to discuss, debate, probe and have to respond to if you are a candidate for public office. The answer, at least according to Gallup polls taken yearly, are, not much.

Seems we want to know every juicy detail about candidates, even if the information borders on or is outright gossip. We treat our candidates about the same as our celebrities. Everyone is just one TMZ audio recording or video away from humiliation and downfall (Mr. Sterling are you listening?) Because we sure are.

donald sterling tmz

Mr. Sterling at an In ‘N Out burger place. Who knew? Thanks TMZ!

It wasn’t always this way. For may years the press had some unspoken boundaries they seemed to recognize and avoid. FDR was not to be photographed with his crutches or leg braces if at all possible. JFK’s sexual dalliances (though widely known by the White House press corps) were seen as his private life and as such not a matter of public necessity. Even his medical condition (he suffered acute kidney failure periodically, residual jaundice symptoms and searing back pain) was mostly off-limits. LBJ’s own affair with his secretary was kept under wraps while most of the press went to great lengths not to make a big deal about Ronald Reagan’s “nap-time” and his early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

JFK and woman

That curtain may or may not lead to a voting booth. But the woman (Marilyn Monroe?) is sure no mannequin. Press be darned.

We’ve even had presidents like Eisenhower and Wilson suffer debilitating strokes while in office that were not fully described or reported by the press out of respect for the office and a concern that “we” the public would panic.

LBJ and scars

LBJ didn’t hide his appendectomy scars. And this was before TMZ!

Bygone halcyon days of discretion to be sure.

In the 1980s when then Senator Hart (D-CO) and presidential candidate was suspected of having an extra-marital affair he threw down the gauntlet to the press (never smart). “Follow me if you want,” he said, “I have nothing to hide.”

Gary Hart

The Senator and Ms. Rice. Maybe all his supporters enjoyed this much access. he apparently did.

Turns out he did. A lot. And her name was Donna Rice. Not his wife. The press has never looked back. It’s all fair game now. When President Bill Clinton was in the midst of a hurricane scandal named Monica Lewinsky (a young intern he had “intimacies” with but may or may not have had actual, you know, legal sex with) even the dress she wore to one of their “trysts” was fair game and whether it was, um, soiled or not (yuck, right?).

So, now in 2014, should we really expect or have a right to expect that anything about a candidate’s past or physical well-being not be ripe for public scrutiny?

George McGovern infamously dropped his announced VP running mate Senator Eagleton from the ticket because he (Eagleton) had once sought psychiatric counseling and Team McGovern feared the press would eat him alive.

Former President George W. Bush had to respond to questions that he was turned away at least once from entering a University of Texas football game because he was inebriated and/or high on cocaine. Bush simply responded by saying that he was young once and made “youthful mistakes.”

And really, haven’t we all?

But what about our intimate details of our physical condition?

Should Hillary Clinton, if she does run for President in 2016 make a full disclosure as to any and all damage she may have suffered due to her blood clot ailment?

Husband Bill Clinton says she’s “doing great” and there’s nothing to disclose but this is also coming from the former Commander-in-Chief who wagged his finger at a nationally televised press conference and famously claimed that “I did not have sex with…with…that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.” Leaked comments by White House insiders seem to suggest that they all had a good laugh at that assertion and noted that they (Clinton and Lewinsky) had done just about everything else but maybe not “it.”

Clinton in shorts

The aforementioned Clinton short-shorts, aka, the Lewinsky magnet. Gore invented ’em.

Which brings me back to my focus question, which was and remains, does any of this other stuff really matter?

If Hillary Clinton is healthy today and runs for and becomes president do we really need to know anything else of her medical condition?

And as to her age, well, we’ve had candidates in the past go to great lengths to demonstrate their vitality and fitness to be president. Sometimes quite dramatically. Senator Tsongas, a cancer survivor, swam a marathon. Ronald Reagan would ride horseback and cut down trees at his ranch and coordinate the press photo-ops to make sure we knew that a. He was older and b. It didn’t matter.

Maybe if Hillary were to run a marathon or swim the English Channel or take part in the Tour de France?

Then again maybe she shouldn’t have to.

And in case you missed it, the Campaign for the Presidency in 2016 is underway.

bengal-tiger-why-matter_7341043

 

 

 

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50 thoughts on “Is Everything “Fair Game” in Politics? Should it Be?

  1. Danny H says:

    If it doesn’t affect how they do their job as an elected official the we probably don’t need to know BUT we sure want to know!

  2. matthew p. says:

    Unfortunately our society has degraded and has to know every fact about every candidate. Even if those facts have no bearing on their ability to perform their duties. Our society has become a victim of 24hr news channel and we constantly want more and more. Candidates will have less and less privacy and become more criticized and we will continue to complain about the limited number of candidates. Its like the Tony Soprano said, “Who wants the job?”

  3. Andrew D. says:

    I sincerely hope that the alien investigator does not send the men in black to neuarlyze you after disclosing his secret. On a more serious note, the health of our elected officials is important to the people. After all, how many Americans consider their vote for VP as a potential vote for the presidency? Although important, the private health of a politician or candidate should not be fair game in the press. Just because an individual decides to pursue a career serving the public does not relinquish his or her right to personal medical privacy. When we think of transparency in government, their last CBC, PET Scan, and CT should not come to mind. Emphasis should be placed on whether or not the elected official or candidate is capable of currently functioning in the position. Is fear of a potential catastrophic medical event enough to disqualify an individual? As one coworker once said, “you can what if forever, but I’m more concerned about the right now.” Medical issues should be reserved for the individual to disclose, not the press.

    On a side note, I am sure that if any cognitive deficiencies exist, they will become known during the campaign process. There is no need for either party to use a candidate’s health as a fear tactic.

    • If I see Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones coming my way I will run not walk in the other direction. Just to be sure!

    • sergioentwp says:

      Men in Black was good movie, in this case the neutralizer could be use to go back to the beginnings of time before their were parties to politics and it was only Theocracy. Politics is the science of goverment. Govern means to direct and control the actions, or conduct thereof. Politics is an open door not a closed closet. We have to know and understand the difference between public and private. In private matters are individual, with public matters are communal and international. Anything that happens in the private stays in the private. But once you become an elected official, you are no longer just representing self but now a whole nation. Any candidate elected should have a volume of scrupulous ethics and able to govern their passion and desires from personal committments. Health is a considerable topic especially in politics because health gives evidence your cognizance upon life. If any candidate health is bad you do your country a disservice by electing that official into office. Politics is a fair game and it should be because government is public and public is not private and we must acknowledge when misuse of power is enacted. If someone misuses power on an individual or private affair then it is unlikely that candidate will use power for good when elected to a higher seat containing more power.

      A footnote. Mccain would have won against Obama if his health was great! Despite the more advance skillset and experience Mccain’s health was not up to par with Obama’s health which made Obama the victor.

  4. lindsay j says:

    Great blog. I agree, even in everyday life it seems to me that we have to dodge getting caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Video cameras are in everyones pocket and the social media scene is so easily updated with real time information. I don’t think age and medical information should be of the concern if someone wants to run for office and feels healthy enough to fill the position, why wouldn’t they be given a fair shot?

  5. Jacki G says:

    Last semester I wrote a paper about extramarital affairs in politics and our ethical role, as a society, as to how we respond to them. Sometimes what seems like first -response ethical behavior can have unintended negative consequences. For example, I focused on how when the media scrutinizes and publicizes the accused parties of an extramarital affair, that this excessive attention affects innocent bystanders, such as children and spouses. I think one reason we are particularly interested in the behavior of politicians is because they hold public offices that are funded by taxpayers money. Therefore, we are naturally inclined to know the “truth” about our leaders. I am in no way, shape, or form trying to justify or excuse extramarital affairs, but I do think we should consider how our responses affect innocent people, especially children. Children have enough time growing up in the public spotlight and I imagine negative attention focused on their parents does not increase the likelihood of growing up “normally” (whatever that means). It seems reasonable to imagine that growing up in this kind of spotlight may cause unnecessary emotional damage. I also think that when this type of behavior is publicized and placed in the spotlight, it may foster copycats who are hungry for fame and attention, even if it is negative attention. \

    So no. I do not think everything is fair game in politics.

  6. Amanda H.D. says:

    I don’t think she should disclose a thing. Her medical condition doesn’t make her unfit for presidency. I feel that if you think it’s rude to ask a coworker or a stranger to disclose their medical history you shouldn’t ask the same of a public official. But a lot of people don’t have those boundaries. Politics does eliminate civility in people doesn’t it. In addition to the scrutiny she will face as to her medical history she will also have to tackle the prejudice some may have against women in positions of power. I’m surprised someone hasn’t slipped up and said something sexist yet. I once overheard “they would rather vote for a black man than put a woman in office”.

    • When she ran before during the Democratic primaries there was talk that she (Hillary) could not be trusted as Commander-in-Chief because as a woman there would be certain times of the month that she would be “unstable.” There were actually ads by PACs using such language. Besides being highly offensive it’s of course rubbish. When the former PM of England Margaret Thatcher was first rising to power her opponents tried the same strategy. Didn’t work there either!

  7. Brandon K says:

    Personally, I don’t think anything is off limits! And if Hillary runs she’d better be prepared because there’s a lot in her past to target!

  8. Stacey M says:

    There’s a lot in everyone’s past Brandon, but it’s the future that counts most and 66 or 68 or so if she gets elected is not all that old these days!

  9. Priscilla D says:

    I do not believe everything should be fair game just because some one is running for public office. A person children lives should not be destroyed because a political foe doesn’t have any factual political ammunition to taint their political opponent so they create false evidence against any family member including children to destroy that person. We find too many of those scenarios in todays political arenas like the medical degrees Karl Rove and Reince Priebus must have obtain in medical school to make medical diagnosises.

  10. Dylan G says:

    The amount of scrutiny that politicians face today has become out of control. I understand that in running for a public office, one takes on the fact that they are going to be questioned publicly about many matters. The matters that they are to be questioned on should only pertain to their stance on relevant issues and the history of what they have stood for and against. There is no way to limit the scrutiny to just these areas though. The morality of a candidate must be taken into consideration when voting, right? I don’t believe that character issues should be ignored either. Personally, I don’t want someone who abuses their spouse or is a racist, representing any area of our government. These areas need to be brought into the public forum during the election process, if warranted. Unfortunately, with the rise of the 24/7 news networks and social media, the scrutiny and questions will not cease. It will only continue to get louder and from all angles. So is it “fair” to attack the least little anything when dealing with politicians? I would have to ere on the side of answering no. But, politicians know what they will be facing when entering into this arena. The scrutiny and stone throwing that they will face is inevitable. Hillary needs to be prepared to have every X-ray, cat scan, and medical record questioned and broken down by the right. There is going to be no avoiding this for her. Bill Gates said it best, “Life is not fair; get used to it.”

  11. Errant Traveler says:

    I think you could make the argument that our political system and culture in America tends to encourage wanting to know everything about a candidate’s personal lives, especially for high-profile races such as President. After all, how many voters who are largely politically apathetic but vote for President out of a sense of duty end up voting for the candidate they’d “like to have a beer with”? Modern media technologies and less restrained attitudes contribute to fostering this cult of personality, and political campaigns generally don’t discourage it either. Compare this to many elections in Europe, where candidates’ personal lives usually don’t matter nearly as much – I think both because of cultural reasons and electoral systems where voters are often picking parties instead of specific candidates.

    Of course, even in America ideology can sometimes trump personal failings. After all, while governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford abandoned his state to “hike the Appalachian Trail” (i.e., vacation with his mistress in Latin America), but that didn’t stop a conservative district from sending him to Congress. And Anthony “shouldn’t have texted a pic matching my last name” Wiener briefly had a shot at becoming NYC mayor, until his campaign went so far off the rails it was too much even for New Yorkers.

    Aspects of a candidate’s personal life should only be relevant in their relation to their capacity to perform the job they might be elected to. The problem is the feeding frenzy of the media and political opponents makes it nearly impossible to have a rational discussion about such matters.

    – Andrew M

  12. ChristieS says:

    Being a president is a job just like another job that people have. There are duties and performance levels that need to be met, and personal issues should not be brought into that. When a person leaves work what they do at home is there own business, if that person brings that into work than they could be held accountable for that. Is there a “fair game” of politics? No.I think politician know what they are getting into when they are running for an election. They basically are celebrities and the media has access to them 24/7. In regards to Clinton,I think health is hard thing to observe because anything can change so drastically.

  13. Shaun J says:

    This is the world we live in, for better or worse. There is no longer privacy when it comes to being a public figure in the spotlight. I could care less about Hilary Clinton’s medical fitness but I don’t mind that there seems to be people that do. I am more troubled with the fact that those that seem to care are generally supporters of the opposing political party and both parties are guilty of these sort of tactics. The contentious nature of a political race leaves me wondering why anyone would want to subject themselves to such a level of scrutiny. Are we electing a pope or a politician? However, these types of stories sell and the press is going to continue to seek out dirt because people love TMZ and US Weekly. We are the problem because if we stopped paying attention and giving clicks and views for these type of stories then the press would find other stories to cover, perhaps…………..actual issues. Oh the horror, you can’t lead with boring news like that.

  14. Erica T-F says:

    We all have a past and I am sure we have done some things that we are not so proud, but if you plan to run for office you should already have a clue that if something was done in the dark, it will be brought to the light. The news media has a way of digging up the most smallest detail of your past such as you ran a stop light when you were 17 or you smoked a joint back when you were 18–it never fails. I’ve witnessed from watching Scandal exactly how the election scandals get started and how the goal is to hone in on the faults of your opponent and spare no expense. I think there should be some topics off limits; however, I guess the candidate knows in advance they are opening up their past and present life for scrutiny. And why not just make it easy on yourself, if you know there is some dirt to be dug up just tell the public in advance and that way you can detail your side of the story or state that it happened when you were younger and less mature. The most hilarious candidates are those that get exposed and looked surprised when it comes out to the public. People are so judgmental, unfortunately and there are things they will tolerate from one and not the other or a man versus a women. This is the country that we live in, politics are dirty and harsh and we, the people as quiet as it is kept love and strive on drama….we watch the news, The View, Wendy Williams, TMZ and all other sorts of gossipy shows to find out what is happening in celebrities or potential celebrities lives. I honestly don’t think there will ever be a consensus made that says certain topics are subject.

  15. Kari W says:

    I agree that there seems to be nothing off limits today. I also think that medical issues and personal life issues are very different things. I wonder if politicians who make “unethical” decisions in their personal lives are more likely to bend the rules in their professional lives. I also wonder how much we as the electing public have a right to know. If we elect people to represent us, should they represent our personal values and beliefs and act as we would in their personal lives? I don’t know. I think that there are degrees and limits to what we as a public will tolerate and “allow.” You can go on a vacation with your mistress, but don’t text her dirty pictures.

    As far as medical issues go, I think those are private, and we have to rely on elected officials to make the best decision for themselves, their families, and the public the serve or represent. I think we should make voting decisions based on who people are and their health (mental and physical) in the present.

  16. Jill V says:

    I believe everything is fair game in anybody’s life now, politics or not…and it’s not because “we” want it to be.

    When trying to decide how much I’d really want to know about someone in office versus how much I “should” know…I’m torn. Of course I’m curious sometimes of their past lives and personal encounters, but would that sway MY vote to what I believe makes them better leaders or not? I don’t think so. Granted I might not agree with some of their personal choices (like are they a smoker or not, have they had an affair, do they have a religion if so what is it, etc. etc.), but to me honestly I’m still on the side to believe that’s none of my business (or at least not all of it).

    Honestly, I think this nation has gone too far in spilling some personal issues of others and their families. I think the paparazzi should be illegal. I mean granted, I know these people have chosen the lives they live which means being in the eyes of the public, but that shouldn’t mean the public has the right to be their shadows.

    Maybe it’s also because in many ways it disgusts me. When the public does find out about issues related to a certain politician whom they themselves are not fond of or completely approve, seriously what really happens? To me, what seems to happen is that my TV just becomes continuously full of fluff and constant feed of what’s going on with Joe or Bob…Kim or Sue.

    I want to know their past efforts in politics. I would like to know their list of community engagements and their personal contributions to such. I would like to know them as a person…but only so far. Like you mentioned, nobody wants to hear about soiled dresses. I mean, GROSS!!! 😕

  17. Burton F says:

    I would like to answer that the candidate’s person life and health does not matter. But in my opinion these issues are important for the voter to be aware of. Brain damage is a serious problem especially for the leader of the free world. If there is brain damage. I personally believe that Mrs, Clinton is not brain damaged. Based on what I have seen and heard from her in the news since the 2010 incident. Furthermore, would a legitimate presidential candidate run if there was a chance the he or she is not sound enough to hold the highest seat i the land? Well maybe he or she would run. In the end, I suppose that I am interested in everything that comes out about all the candidates personal life and health that will run for president in 2016.

    • Yes, makes sense. I think the deeper issue may be unfounded speculation and the innuendo. Of course while we live by all is fair in love, war an politics, it does seem especially insidious to insinuate that someone has brain damage or is unfit when there (so far) is no evidence to support such insinuations or even assertions. On the other hand, Machiavelli would be proud.

  18. Charles H says:

    I may be ridiculous in my thinking, but a person’s personal life really doesn’t have any bearing on my decision in making them president, The country is not ran by that individual and it never will. Some of our most beloved Presidents had well-known skeletons in their closet and it didn’t affect their ability to manage as a executive. There were numerous periods in the Reagan Administration in which he was not in charge, nor was he capable (i.e. assassination attempt, and early stage Alzheimer Syndrome)

    Maybe not all elected offices, but a president, to me, should have a certain intangible quality that promotes success, confidence, and vision. He embodies our society to the rest of the world, and to pick him and our candidates apart only makes us look bad.

    People didn’t love Kennedy or Reagan because of their decisions, they loved them because they reflected to the world what Americans believed…that we were the best. They gave speeches that will echo through eternity which serve as reminders that being someone who inspires others is the job of a president.

    Personal life? I could care less. Inspire me.

  19. Andrew N says:

    I would like to hope certain things could be off limits for political candidates that do not affect the candidate’s ability to run for office, but it’s just not possible anymore. I think it is very difficult to put an “off-limits” to any type of action by a political candidate. With as much technology we have, it is very easy to do a search and unearth something that could greatly distort the views of someone. We live in a digital age where finding information on people is only a click away. Hillary Clinton’s personal health is her business, however, I think that the public has a right to know about her health if it could affect her chances of performing her duties as President. If she has some debilitating disease that could shorten her presidency then I think the public has a right to know. As one of the commenters in this blog mentioned, not that many consider their vote for Vice President as a potential vote for the presidency, therefore, if her health is an issue, I think it should be addressed to give the voter something else to think consider. Then again, even knowing her preexisting health may not matter. William Henry Harrison only made it 31 days in office before contracting pneumonia. Granted that is was in the mid 1800’s before huge advances in medicine, but my point is that people can get medical conditions with no warning and knowing her medical history in-depth is not necessarily going to do us, as voters, a huge favor. I think that if political candidates want to reveal their medical history with voters, that’s great. But, if they don’t, surely someone else will.

  20. Gerald J says:

    In the realm of politics, no subject seems to be off limits in the campaign process. The truth is; while SOME of these things do matter, the majority of them only serve as distractions.

    For instance, I do consider the health and well being of Presidential Candidates to be fair game. This type of issue can affect the public. In the same way that employees performing manual labor must take a physical examination and be able to lift x amount of pounds to qualify for the job. The Presidential candidate should be able to meet the demands of the position for at least 4 years (Traveling, Briefing… etc)

    However, some issues are just issues which provide no indication as to whether the candidate is competent. President Clinton’s integrity was called into question when he lied to the public regarding the allegations of his sexual misconduct. While him lying to the public is a problem, it really did not prove to be a big issue affecting the public until the facts were known. Issues like this only affect public perception of the candidate.

  21. Thomas C says:

    Is everything fair game when it comes to questioning a candidate for public office? I think yes, but only to the extent that the inquiry is used to judge electability. Certainly, there are a varying number of dynamics Americans consider when evaluating who to select for public office. Among the more prevalent of these are moral values, religious beliefs, leadership ability, and political affiliation. Candidates seeking election to a public office know that they are under this type of scrutiny and position themselves accordingly. Thus, for me asking questions (regardless the topic) is a way for voters to bridge the gap between this political façade and the truth. For this reason, I believe any inquiry pertaining to the candidate (not the person) is “fair game”.

  22. Fransiska says:

    There are many different ways that we can look at this question is everything in political figures life far game? I believe that everything should not be fair game. However, the thought that a political figure is sleeping with a person other than his or her husband/wife is a bad look. If the person is cheating on his/her significant other then why would this same person not cheat the American people? However, martial affairs are respect or disrespect for the significant other. The thought that there are people running office that has illness conditions can be problematic. Illness can be problematic if it affects their ability to make judgments rationally. If it does not affect the politician to make decisions, it is none of the Americans people business. I believe that there is more information on political figures because the information is so accessible. Years ago, the American people did not have a camera such as a phone that was so easily concealed and accessible. There was no way to get information out so quickly such a picking up a cell phone and transfer information and social networks. Not only are others responsible for information going out about personal lives, there are now people that post their own personal information for others to see on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

  23. Sharriette Finley says:

    Citizens who run for public office put themselves out there in a different way. Because they assert themselves as representatives for the people, the public feels they have the right to know intimate details. On the surface, it is as simple as people wanting to know which candidate will best represent their values. Beneath the surface, the probing is feeding an unhealthy need to demean and harm. Since this is the way of the press, this has become the way of the people. Our society is suffering because of it. Privacy, honesty, and courtesy have lost their value. I must admit that I blame the opening of this floodgate on Gary Hart. He foolishly underestimated the investigative prowess of the American press and overestimated the tolerance of the American people. Before that time in my life, I had not considered that an elected official could be a dishonorable human being. The lesson is this; if one is planning to run for public office, they need to live a life that can survive scrutiny. The American Public has been given the right to know the values, the capabilities, and the beliefs of those they’re potentially electing to lead them; it is not a right that will be yielded.

  24. Tricia P says:

    If Hilary Clinton decides to officially run for President, I do not think she is obligated to disclose any information about potential health problems. As long as she is mentally able to make sound judgments and decisions, her health is off limits. Personally, I think the scrutiny of her health has largely to do with the fact that she is a woman. I do not remember such rampant discussion of whether John McCain was “able to run” when he ran for President, even though he would have been 72 years old when he would have entered office, if he had been elected, and had already been treated for skin cancer. It seems different topics are fair game depending on whether the candidate is a man or a woman.This speaks volumes about our society’s views on men and women, not just those in the public eye.

  25. Autron H says:

    The right of the public to know is a fundamental part of serving as a public official.The issue is two fold.The first is that candidates must be truthful in dealing with the media and public, they must either respond in a transparent manner or they must not comment.The second is that the media must get to the basis of reporting the news and facts instead of having agendas that are contrary to reporting what is true or not. Some items in a persons life is not worth even repoting to a skeptical public who seems to favor anything negative.

  26. Luke E says:

    The question asked here is very appropriate. I personally do think that candidates should be able to retain some shreds of privacy. However, I don’t believe everyone shares this sentiment, especially journalist. That said, privacy is a luxury in politics. Furthermore, we can contradict ourselves on the issue. I think some things in the past should stay there, and I believe families should be off limits. That said I understand the important question, “How can he govern when he can’t govern himself/herself or his/her family?” Therefore, we should be understanding and give some leeway in certain circumstances. Journalist should also use better discretion on what is newsworthy and what isn’t.

  27. Ben C says:

    When running for public office it is appropriate to consider a candidate’s ability in the regard of fitness for duty. The problem with Karl and Reince questioning for fitness for duty is not from the angle of fitness but to undermine her ability to serve. In other words, purely self serving for the Republican Party’s ability to gain the upper hand in the 2016 Presidential election. Currently, Hillary Clinton (who has not officially tossed her hat in to run) is polling in the mid 60 percentile in various polls throughout the country. So Karl and Reince questioning of Mrs. Clinton has nothing to do with “true” fitness to serve. The irony is the 2008 GOP Presidential candidate John McCain was in his early 70s while running against the youthful Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama. Many seniors felt that Sen. McCain was even to old to serve in the role of President of the United States. The public has a right to ask the hard questions regarding health, age, morals, and even intellect when considering the best candidate to serve in an elected office. While we all will have our political party basis rooted in ideology, everything is fair game when considering the best candidate for the job.

  28. Car-ra B says:

    I don’t believe that everything should be “fair game’ in politics; however, when someone has a role of such high status, people are more interested in every minuscule detail and often feel entitled to know as much information as possible. I recently saw a “reverse” interview where a transgender male interviewed a reporter asking her all the questions she would be asking him. The reporter didn’t realize how invasive the questions were until she actually had to answer them. Despite how simple it may seem to answer a question, the intensity of the situation in which a question is asked, the intent, and the tone all can affect the person who is being asked the question. In terms of political questioning, some people are looking for similar political stance or just someone they can relate to (i.e. the guy who heard voices at night). Others are hoping to get revealing information about someone’s past or catch them in a lie. Either way, whether it’s a genuine question being asked or someone digging for dirt, we live in a day in age where transparency is expected of our elected officials and the ability to handle the personal nature of your past, present, and future being public knowledge is required.

  29. Taton T says:

    Very good blog post. Enjoyed the coitus jokes as well. 😉 However, I believe this is something we need to take serious. 4 years in the White House is a very big deal and not something that should be taken lightly if there is a chance of mental illness or incompetency. Additionally, we look back to 2008 and Democrats demoralized McCain on him being too old, too injured, and made of him for barely being able to move on stage. I am referring to voters, and the not the officials let it be known even though there were some comments be officials about his age. Moreover, why is is this such a big deal for them to question Hillary for a brain issue, when McCain only had functionality issues. He had had health issues in the past, but nothing severe in recent years.
    This is recent and this is severe. I say it is fair game.

  30. Sedric says:

    I really don’t think Hillary health condition should be a problem. Perfectly healthy people get sick at anytime. This is recent and maybe severe but no one knows what’s going on with her health but her and the doctor. Look like most of them in Congress has health problems anyway.

  31. Xenia J says:

    It may not be right, but politicians have to be prepared to suffer the ills associated with the information age. I do believe children should be off limits and I hope their parents make a concerted effort to shield them from public scrutiny. Most seem to have done well.
    As far as Hillary Clinton’s and other presidential hopefuls health is concerned, it is important to have enough information to ensure we elect someone who is in generally good health. However, we do not need to know all of the particulars of their personal conditions. In regards, to not being able to trust Mrs. Clinton as Commander-in-Chief because there might be certain times of the month that she would be “unstable”, one can’t help but to wonder what kind of women these gentlemen associate with and the true cause of any instability they’ve witnessed in their own homes. Our opinions are, after all, a reflection of our experiences.

  32. Karen P W says:

    I do not believe a person’s health status should be disclosed for the sake of running for political office if it is not an issue of alcoholism or a drug addiction – pending the drug in some states. Fortunately, the Constitution designates the line of succession through the 25th Amendment in case the President is unable to carryout the responsibilities of the office. Even the healthiest person who is elected to office could deal with the unexpected that puts her or him out of commission. So it truly comes down to political tactics to move the public in a desired direction and off the focus of real issues.

  33. Geri says:

    These people who run for office, no matter if it’s on a local, state, or federal are the people that we voters (constituents) believe politicians can make sound decisions about important issues that effect the people of this country’s well being as well as overseas issues. However, I do not believe the public has to know their every medical test that are being performed on a politician, ie: Cat scan, etc. But do believe the public should should be aware is their past, present, and if there are going to be any future helath concerns. However when the public is aware of a politicians health, there are times the focus stays on their health rather than the real issues at hand. But then again, when a polictician has a cognitive health issue (such as President Regan), how sound are their decision making during their presidency? No one can predict one’s health during the time they are in office. Should the public take into consideration their health when voting? Well it depends on the health of the politician. If a polictican (in my mind) had a past drug additction (during their teenage years), do I need to know about that? No, I don’t! Because we were all teenagers at one point and made stupid mistakes. But would I want to know the health of politician now? Yes I would! I would want to know if they are sick, how are they making sound decisions about our country!!! Now if a politician has a affair (President Bill Clinton or John F. Kennedy), well I really do care about if they were making sound decisions during that time! Well politicians are in the publics eyes and did make a decision to work for the public sector. I I believe when one starts out in public office, they have every intention to do good, but get caught up in the “glory, spotlight, pressures” that they themselves loose the real focus on the issues. My point here is, politicians choose to be in the public eyes, so yes, they are fair game and realize the consequiences if they do wrong.

  34. Jennifer M says:

    I personally don’t closely follow celebrities and/or politicians personal lives. It’s just not that interesting to me, but I do understand the draw. I feel like if it doesn’t affect their ability to do their job, as with any other person, then they shouldn’t have to disclose anything. Of course, people have the right to ask and politicians have the right to answer or not.

  35. Selenseia says:

    Everything seems to be fair game in politics. I don’t think it should be though. Personal issues that do not affect a persons ability to complete a job should not be a factor. If they decide to disclose health issues, then fine, it is now the business of the people, because the politician has made it the business of the people. If they do not do that, we should leave it alone. Someone mentioned that we usually do not vote for a presidential candidate based on their running mate, and that is true. We don’t usually think about the fact that the VP may very well end up as president if tragedy strikes. But knowing how the presidency works, it is always a possibility, so that gives us something to think about.

  36. Nicole says:

    In short, no. I do not think that political figures should also be expected to forgo their privacy. However, that is the reality, and in knowing this they should shape-up in preparation for the bright lights. Not everyone knows at a young age they wish to be in politics; in this case it is smart to hire talented people that can cloak the skeletons in ones’ closet. What’s the saying,” just because you put lipstick on a pig don’t make it purdy…!?” It has become more difficult to cover up personal indiscretions when a portion of the population make a living from uncovering said indiscretions. For this reason, politicians must have a strong PR team! (in my opinion)

    The time for privacy has passed, and while I do not agree in abandoning all privacy to the masses (reason 37 why I’m not in politics); I do appreciate the nosey, desires it stems from (US Weekly, a grocery store guilty pleasure). People want to know EVERYTHING, and thanks to the technology of today knowing everything seems legit. It is so ingrained into the younger generations they do not realize what it is they are giving up. Sooner or later, it will be normal for scandal and controversy to follow candidates; one day they’ll all be adult Millennials.

  37. Julie M says:

    You mention the change that has occured over the years, from the level of respect shown to FDR, Eisenhower and Kennedy, to the Clinton affair coverage, to today’s constant digging to uncover new information. So in addition to responding to the question, I might also ask what has changed, and could it be that PACs and campaign managers also share a responsibility? Never having run for office, I would just ask, who makes the decision to publicize an opposing candidate’s flaws- the media, the person running, or their campaign manager and major funders?

    I do think that some medical issues may be relevant. I also think that major financial issues can be very telling. Not so much the issue itself as the way it was handled; a financial or health setback, if properly and immediately treated, with no attempt to cover it up, could actually be a good thing for the candidate. But those who would cover up a major financial investment or other deal gone wrong would be very liable to do the same again if in office.

    • Julie-to your question-they all can question or attack or even fabricate stories or criticisms of other candidates. There is very little if any standards PACS must adhere to in their ads other than simply disclosing the organization airing the ad. But pollsters remind us that if such negative campaigning didn’t work candidates probably wouldn’t do it.

  38. Niku L says:

    While I do not believe that everything about a public official should be fair game, I understand why certain matters pertaining to these individuals’ private lives are scrutinized and publicized. As a servant to the public, it should be expected that people would want to know as much as they can about the person who is representing their interests. Yes, while some probing is just downright nosy, I understand why people want to know. Personally, I would want to know if my representative has had an affair. While cheating tendencies might not undermine one’s ability to get the job done (and yes, everyone makes mistakes), I think it may allude to that person’s morals and values and that to me should be taken into consideration when deciding to appoint an official into office.

  39. julianwjr says:

    Politicians are not above using personal narratives, which vary from truthful to totally fabricated anecdotes, to their own advantage.

    For instance, did anyone other than NYC Mayor DeBlasio himself reveal that he had advised his bi-racial son that all Cauco-American police officers posed a danger to his personal safety?

    When First Lady Michelle Obama hits the commencement address circuit and describes her tribulations growing up Black en route to Princeton Law as akin to being Kizzy in Roots or the heroine in a Spike Lee movie, might we be excused for suspecting just a tad of self-serving, hyperbolic, anecdotal license?

    But God forbid she should be caught out and reported on eating a Burger King Whopper while forcing America’s school kids to carry unappetizing lunches to the closest garbage can beyond the serving line.

  40. krfukes says:

    I think certain things should be off limits when it comes to revealing personal information about a candidate, but of course most want to be nosey and know every detail they can. If previous actions and minor health issues will have no impact whatsoever on how one will be able to perform in public office we should not really care. If I was running for a public office, I would not want something dumb I did as a high school student or a minor medical procedure label me as unfit to do the job. All of the presidents from decades ago mentioned were simply luckier that the media was not as crazy as it is today. For any public official to be able to hide a medical condition or affair today is nearly impossible. If not exposed before one takes office, the truth will come out eventually.

  41. julianwjr says:

    Fast forward to today, Sunday, 9/6/2015.

    Perhaps the HRC campaign theme song should now be the Beatles’ “Yesterday.”

    Yesterday, my secret server was still hidden away
    Now my e-mail scandal is here to stay
    And Curt Gowdy will not go away
    Oh, how I long for yesterday.

  42. M. Brown says:

    It is quite discouraging that in today’s political environment everything matters even though it shouldn’t. The media, political pundits, and campaign strategists tout that the public has a right to know everything about a candidate in order to determine their fitness for office, but this often feels like more of a desire to know if there is anything bad that can embarrass or be used against that candidate. Undoubtedly, this has a detrimental impact on the type of people who ultimately decide to pursue public office. There are many individuals who would bring tremendous leadership qualities or policy acumen to public office, but choose not to enter politics because of the public spectacle that has become our electoral process. Moreover, it has always been mindboggling that people seem to want to know every little detail about the lives of presidential or gubernatorial candidates, but barely know anything about the folks who are elected to the school board, city council, or even the state legislature. The real irony is that these lower level political offices have more of a direct impact on the daily lives of citizens. The candidates for these positions should warrant greater attention and maybe even some scrutiny. While I could further harp on the right versus the desire to know argument, I think that the latter is not always as malicious as it seems. At some level, the public has a general interest in who its leaders are. Can they relate to us? Do they share our values? Is this someone who is worthy of my vote or endorsement? Yes, voters have the right to get to know the people who serve, or seek to serve in public office. However, there should always be an acceptable realm of privacy; otherwise, our elections will never produce the best or most qualified person for office – just the last person standing after the cage match.

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