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I Can’t Decide Whether This Is Wrong Until I Know His Party Affiliation


Meet New York Republican nominee Carl Paladino, who has some other things besides racist emails on his cv:

She was talking about her husband’s affair, a subject she was ready, if not eager, to address. Since her husband, Carl, won the Republican nomination for governor of New York last week, the only story in the race as compelling as his upset victory has been their personal back story: that her husband not only had an affair, not only fathered a child with that other woman, but also told his wife of 40 years about it all the same week that their 29-year-old son, Patrick, was killed in a car accident. He pulled her aside, Ms. Paladino said, as she was looking for family photographs to bring to the wake.

“He said he was very sorry to cause me pain, the relationship with the mother was over … and there was a child,” she said.

The problem is, I’m unsure about the moral status of Carl Paladino’s actions here. The reaction to John Edwards’s similar actions and Bill Clinton’s substantially lesser actions would suggest that Paladino’s adultery makes him History’s Greatest Monster.* The reaction to the similar actions of Newt Gingrich, John McCain, David Vitter, Rudy Giuliani, and John Ensign suggests that his political career should go on as if nothing happened. Hmmm, if there was only some pattern here that would allow me to determine what the reaction will be.

*And yes, yes, I understand with Edwards there’s the “meta” argument that his adultery should be disqualifying because of the lack of political judgment it showed, and sure as far as it goes. But that argument works because his adultery would be seen as disqualifying, and note that the same argument could be made about all of the other men I’ve named with the possible exception of McCain.

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  • DrDick

    Come on now, you know as well as I do that only Democrats and liberals are held to any kind of moral standards. Family values conservatives have a free pass on anything thy want to do because they are bald faced hypocrites constantly haranguing everyone else about moral standards.

    • cer

      Now would be a good time to bring up my favorite argument that it is better to be a sinner who condemns the sin than it is to accept the sin. Hypocrisy IS a moral position, you see.

      Paladino is one sadistic motherfucker.

  • SEK


    (At least, in the world I’d rather live in, it is.)

  • Halloween Jack

    Much as I hate to give the New York Post credit for anything, “Tea For Three” is one of the best headlines since “Headless Body in Topless Bar”.

  • Ronnie P

    Here in New York, Dems are running strong anti-Paladino ads not about adultery (of course) but about him ripping off the government (“he took $1 million from the government and created one job”).

  • FlipYrWhig

    No mention of Spitzer?

  • The last Democrat to get a free pass on treating marriage as less-than-sacred was JFK.

    Anyone remember Gary Hart? He was in a position similar to Edwards, and the adultery charge ended his career.

    It’s a hell of a thing, being a Republican. You can be for family values, and having a mistress or three just shows that you’re manly and virile. You’d think that would register as dissonant in some people’s heads, but if there’s anything that late-20th/early-21st century American politics has taught us, it’s that Leon Festinger was wrong, wrong, wron.

    • It seems to me that Edwards’ transgression was different from either Hart, Newt or Paladino’s. Edwards used his wife as part of his narrative– she is an interesting and appealing woman with a deadly disease, and she humanized him. It was not something I cared about, but the anniversary dinners at Burger King reminded us that the Edwards’ were jus’ folks, even though they were really, really rich. At bottom Edwards committed the sin of inauthenticity– and he done his appealing, ill wife wrong.

      Hart failed to learn that the cover-up was worse than the crime, and he foolishly called out the press. Either would have been enough to sink him– in combination both proved to be too much to overcome.

      Newt is an asshole. Everyone knows it, and he is never going to be a national candidate, no matter how many times he contrives to be mentioned. Likewise Rudy, and Ensign and Vitter. Their careers are over, at least as national candidates.

      Palidino is no plaster saint, but he doesn’t pretend to be. I think it has to be conceded that he has handled his infidelity appropriately. It was nearly ten years ago. He confessed the affair to his wife– it wasn’t something that got dug up and sprung on him. It happened when he was still a private citizen, albeit one with a prominent public profile in Western New York. I’m not sure when it became public knowledge, but I’m guessing that it was something that some people around here knew about and that he made more public when he decided to run.dam He has always supported the child and includes her as part of his family. There are a number of reasons to think he’d be a terrible governor, but his family life doesn’t seem to number among them.

      • Ed

        There are a number of reasons to think he’d be a terrible governor, but his family life doesn’t seem to number among them.

        Probably enough people knew about the affair to make Paladino realize that he couldn’t hide it indefinitely if he was going to go further in public life. He didn’t get around to telling his wife for quite some time. Not only did she have to endure the shock of hearing about the child after losing one of her own, she learned that her children were all in on the secret; she was an outsider in her own family, truly the last to know. (It doesn’t sound from her interviews as if she has fully recovered.) It is nice that she has been willing and able to accept the child’s presence in the family, but her husband’s trips to the Vatican with his ex and their daughter?? Poor Cathy.

        I’ll enjoy watching the family values conservatives wrestle this one to the mat, though.

        • Bill Altreuter

          ‘Further in public life’ is kind of the point. Except to the extent that he is a rich guy around here he wasn’t really a public figure in the sense that that description would have obliged him to make his screwed up personal life public. The Buffalo News wouldn’t have run a story about it, although my sense is that it was a fairly well-known thing. I guess my point is that on this score he has been a stand-up guy. I see a difference here: he lied, he cheated, but at least as to the people involved hehas done the best he can to do the right thing, and that has included acknowledging the whole thing. This is different from Edwards, certainly, and from Newt too.

          • Russell L. Carter

            Is it this hard to recruit a boring personal family life Republican?

            • cer

              Apparently he confessed because his son (the one whose funeral was the occasion for the confession) said he would go to rehab if his dad told his mom about the affair; his kids had known for some time. He decided to keep his promise. I suppose there is some bizarre honor in that.

              But I agree with the general point; why does it appear that almost no one in the GOP lives up to their “family values” platform?

  • Well Edwards denied paternity of his child and persuaded another man to lie and claim he was the father. That’s a pretty important detail you’re leaving out.

    But in general, the answer is easy: IOKIYAR

    • Ed

      The last Democrat to get a free pass on treating marriage as less-than-sacred was JFK.

      There was no open scandal during Kennedy’s lifetime, only gossip, and in that pre-feminist era, the talk about his womanizing actually helped Kennedy in some quarters – even women thought it was appealing. Women’s views have changed and so has the culture. Not such a bad thing.

      Anyone remember Gary Hart? He was in a position similar to Edwards, and the adultery charge ended his career.

      That’s what happens when you dare the press to follow you around. Hart was rude to his wife in public, too. What a charmer.

      Edwards also got a campaign donor to supply funds to bribe his employee and provide support and accommodations for Edwards’ mistress and their child, apparently in the belief that all this could be kept secret indefinitely. Incredible.

  • Boudleaux

    Well, I don’t think we can be certain that George W. Bush was 100% faithful to Lump either.

    I don’t think the matter has been adequately investigated, applying the Clinton standard.

  • Chris

    Well, Scott, it depends.

    If Paladino is a Democrat, he’ll be drummed out of the campaign.

    If Paladino is a Republican, he’ll be fine.

    If Paladino is a Teabagger, he’ll simply ascend straight past Albany to the right hand of Jesus.

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