You can read it in the Sunday papers …

Many Sunday mornings I slog through the newspaper with eyes barely opened, going through the motions almost with a sense of duty to keep up with what’s going on in the world.  Other days I seem to find a number of interesting columns, opinions or features that seem to beg for comment or discussion. 

All of these stories were carried in the December 4 edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer.


Should fidelity matter?  Karen Heller of The Philadelphia Inquirer is one columnist I always read, regardless of my opposition to most of her political views.  Despite our differences, she sometimes hits a chord that deserves consideration.  This Sunday her column on Should fidelity matter?, has an interesting angle on national candidates who cheat on their wives.  It’s a timely topic, given the recent travails of Herman Cain and the history of Newt Gingrich.

Heller’s central theme is that adultery should not in itself eliminate a candidate from receiving your vote.  She couches her view with recognition that politicians have huge egos, tend to maintain a casual relationship with the truth, experience spouse-free campaign trips and plenty of fawning women.  Certainly there have been a number of presidents – some lauded for their service – who have had “zipper problems”.  And for sure, there have been some pretty bad presidents who have never strayed from their spouses.   

So should fidelity be THE determining factor?  Heller states, “Politicians don’t need to act better, only to be wiser and lead.”  Her point-of-view is interesting, especially when it comes to primary politics.  Too many potential candidates get jettisoned way too early in the process for a host of reasons, wife-cheating being just one of the many. 

I have always had a problem with good candidates – particularly for President – that get eliminated from serious consideration because they don’t meet the dreaded “litmus tests” often applied by the extremes on either side of the political spectrum.  Regardless of whether the litmus test is voting for the Iraq War, support for the NRA, believing in a woman’s right to choose, or taxing millionaires, no national candidate is likely to satisfy every voter’s position on every issue.  Discarding a candidate because they are “Conservative, but not conservative enough” or “Liberal but not liberal enough” is counterproductive – in my opinion – to finding the best candidate across all issues.       

But character issues are a different story altogether.  If a politician is a liar or a cheat, it says something about their basic human makeup.  It points to a lack of strength, an inability to live up to one’s commitments.  It flags a weakness that can be exploited by people and entities looking for backdoor access to policy decisions or to funding streams.  If a politician cannot keep the simplest, most fundamental promise to a spouse, what does it say about their ability to lead, their fortitude on policy positions that might not be politically expedient, or their ability to resist temptations that could be personally profitable? 

One reason I was so hard on Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky affair was the knowledge that had I acted as he did in my federal workplace, I would have been fired.  As Chief Executive, the President sets an example – if not the standard – for behavior by all those serving under their leadership.  “Do as I say, not as I do.” is not an effective leadership style.   

Some candidates have overcome this flaw to become effective leaders.  Some have even been elected despite knowledge of their peccadilloes along the campaign trail.  But on the whole, you cannot disregard the issue of infidelity as it relates to one’s character.

Should fidelity be the only issue?  No.  But it’s one of the big ones.


Women drivers  It’s official.  The problems encountered with driving – (almost) all of them – are caused by women.  This is a theme many male drivers in this country have held for decades.  Now the Saudis have confirmed that yet another problem with driving can be eliminated entirely by removing the fairer sex from the equation.

A high-level advisory group in Saudi Arabia claims that allowing women to drive could encourage premarital sex!  The report from a well-known academic was submitted to the  – all-male of course – Shura Council which advises the Saudi monarchy stating that to allow women to drive will threaten the country’s traditions of virgin brides.  The claim is that allowing females to drive will allow greater mixing of the genders and could therefore promote sex.

As any red-blooded American male from my generation can attest, driving most definitely allows greater mixing of the sexes; and a nice car certainly facilitates if not “promotes” sex.  But frankly, my experience was that although I could definitely “mix” more readily with the object(s) of my desire if I drove, no car – no matter how nice – promoted much more than the mixing.  Maybe it was me … 

Unfortunately for this well-known Saudi academic and his ground-breaking premise, there was never any shortage of premarital misbehavior when I first started driving and just about ALL the drivers back then were MALE!


Gary Johnson’s presidential campaign pushes on! 

“Who?”, you ask. 

Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico, is running for president … not that anyone would notice.  Seems Johnson is one of the minor candidates viewing the GOP presidential sweepstakes from the outside, looking in.  Johnson is a libertarian candidate with a true libertarian’s view on issues like drug decriminalization, taxes and federal spending.

Seems though that Johnson just can’t seem to break through to play with the big boys because his polling numbers (3%) do not warrant attention from voters or the media.  He is one of a number of candidates that get few if any invites to the GOP primary debates.

Although I have no predictions as to the long-term viability of Johnson’s campaign or those other minor candidates seeking attention, the way the Republican Party – with the help of a more-than-willing media – is going through top runners, one would think having as many candidates as possible involved in the process at this point would be a good thing.  If for no other reason, perhaps having additional – even desperate – candidates in the field might force the major candidates to defend questionable policies and decisions or to consider unconventional solutions to our problems.


Sagamore Hill  They are preparing to restore President Teddy Roosevelt‘s mansion at Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay, NY.  I have always been a fan of Teddy, and would love to tour his Sagamore Hill home someday.  The story covers the challenges of removing, cataloguing and storing the thousands of artifacts, books and furniture contained in the house.  Suffice it to say, no one from PETA will ever enjoy many of the exhibits found from Teddy’s life as a progressive and a hunter.


From Pearl Harbor to Japan the hard way  Last but certainly not least, we have the story of World War II veteran Salvino Paul Tobia.  It’s an amazing tale of a U.S. sailor whose WWII experience began as he worked in a hangar at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  He survived that fateful day, then as a crewman on a PBY (flying boat) he narrowly escaped being shot down over the island of Tulagi in the Pacific after landing to evacuate wounded Marines.  But on September 11, 1942 his PBY is crippled by Japanese Zeros as they prepared to attack an enemy destroyer.  He ends up captured, working at a steel mill in the north of Japan replacing wheel bearings on ore cars; eats mountain grasses to survive; and is shelled by the Sixth Fleet while in captivity on the Japanese coast.

It’s a remarkable story that every American should read (if not this story than as many as you can of the thousands of other stories out there) to gain for the first time or to add to your appreciation for the sacrifices made for us by a soon to be gone generation.

Mr. Tobia passed away in October 2000.

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