Would you vote for a candidate who's unfaithful?

Disclosures of infidelity used to be political dealbreakers, but no more

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Published November 21, 2018 5:00PM (EST)

Bill Clinton (AP/Marcy Nighswander)
Bill Clinton (AP/Marcy Nighswander)

This week Salon introduces its questions of the day, where we invite you to lead the conversation.

Three decades ago, a revelation of infidelity was enough to derail is Gary Hart's presidential aspirations. Twenty years ago, Bill Clinton's relationship with a White House intern almost brought down his presidency. Nine years ago, Mark Sanford's career took a detour after the discovery of extramarital affair.

Today, mainstream news outlets reporting on the president of the United States find themselves deploying phrases like "pee tape" and "porn star."

Sex and politics have always gone hand in hand — as long as dalliances were handled discreetly. but here in the US, we are in a new era of what is known, and what is tolerated. Is personal morality a reasonable litmus for leadership fitness? Do you care who your representatives sleep with? Or is infidelity no longer a career dealbreaker? Does fortune now favor the shameless?


Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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