Bill Clinton (AP/Marcy Nighswander)

Would you vote for a candidate who's unfaithful?

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


Mary Elizabeth Williams
November 21, 2018 10:00PM (UTC)

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.

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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 staff writer for Salon and the author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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