Governor Sanford of South Carolina admitted today to, not only being in Argentina for 7 days unbeknownst to the public, but also to having an affair with an Argentine woman. The woman had been a “dear, dear friend” to the governor for about eight years, but only became romantic a little over a year ago, according to Sanford at a press conference today. Sanford's office had reported that he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail, but Sanford revealed his true whereabouts to a reporter who pressed him upon his arrival.
Oh cheating politicians. FDR, Kennedy, Clinton, Gingrich, Craig, Foley, Condit, Kilpatrick, Edwards, Spitzer, Patterson, Ensign, and now Sanford—the list goes on. This makes any attempt to smear the Republican party because of Sanford's behavior (especially in light of Nevada Republican Senator John Ensign's own confession yesterday) an exercise in hypocrisy. it has nothing to do with political ideology but everything to do with human behavior.
According to the best estimates, 1 in 5 men (20%) engage in an affair sometime during their married lives, with 1 in 30 men (3.5%) involved in an affair over the past year. (For women, the statistics used to be lower, but are rising).If we took this statistic and assumed that there were roughly 415 married male politicians in Congress, then about 83 of them would have had extramarital affairs sometime in their married pasts, and 14 of those engaged in affairs last year. Given that we have only heard of 6 or 7 political sexual scandals over the past couple years, then we only know a small amount of affairs going on with our elected officials. Therefore, if politicians do have more affairs than the public, then they are better at hiding it than most people. This would make sense, considering the ramifications of getting busted. But the affairs we know of do not reach the 20% average, so it is equally possible (though highly unlikely) that they are better at avoiding extramarital affairs than most people. The analysis is further complicated by the fact that some politicians carry the gravitas to attract national attention on their lives whilst other politicians remain in the background with less of a chance of getting busted for engaging in extramarital affairs. Thus, questions of whether politicians are any more slimy than anybody else in this regard is unknown and up for debate.
In any case, we can keep on expecting this “appalling” behavior from politicians, just as we can from everybody else.