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On the “Character” Rationalization

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Hertzberg does a great job of explaining why trying to pretend that scandals involving consensual sex are actually relevant won’t fly:

By itself, the fact that a person has lied about sex tells you nothing about that person’s general propensity to lie. Unlike most citizens, prominent politicians like Gary Hart, Bill Clinton, and Anthony Weiner make speeches by the hundred, give media interviews constantly, and have extensively documented public records. If the politician is a habitual or characterological liar, the public record will show it and the lying-about-sex is redundant. If the politician is not a habitual or characterological liar, his lying-about-sex is misleading—is itself a lie, in a way.

All roads that involve attempting to evaluate politicians through personality traits lead to an empty tautology. (See also.)

In other news, Besty McCaughey would like you to know that Anthony Weiner lacks integrity.

…see also Greenwald.

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