It's becoming almost routine for me to listen to a contrite confession from a husband (happily, not mine) admitting to having had extra-marital sex. A case can be made that it's none of my business, but Breaking News clearly feels if a politician has strayed, I should be immediately alerted.
Further analysis and details are then provided by Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, Keith Olbermann and Larry King, by which time the story has become personal, impossible to ignore. I can't return to business as usual, and this is even before the scandal has been mined into comedy by Jon Stewart, David Letterman and Jay Leno.
There was a time when a married politician could have an affair without intruding on my life. Whatever JFK was doing, it was never in my face. Gary Hart was my first major betrayal. It was 1987 and my mother, who was in a hospital dying, removed her oxygen mask, which she'd never done, seemingly needing to confide something of consequence. Was there a family secret about to be revealed? An unexpected inheritance? What my mother whispered (and turned out to be her last words) was, "Gary Hart's career is over." For me this was the beginning of the era where political scandals became our domain.
One mistake could be absorbed. I can't speak for Gary Hart's wife, but most of us were able to forgive him and move on. In recent years, however, cheating, lying and being outed have become media events, part of the political landscape. The rationale, if one is needed for it being considered our business, was political contributions may have been involved. The endless stories may explain why we have no memory left. Our brains have been used up storing names of those in political scandals?
Following is a test so you can determine if this is has happened to you. Can you link the politician with the transgression?
1) John F. Kennedy --- A) e-mails to House pages
2) Eliot Spitzer --- B) Chandra Levy
3) Bill Clinton --- C) Guy in airport bathroom
4) John Edwards --- D) D.C. Madam hookers
5) James E. McGreevey --- E) Rielle Hunter
6) Gary Hart --- F) Judith Exner
7) Larry Craig --- G) Donna Rice
8) Gary Condit --- H) Monica Lewinsky
9) Mark Foley --- I) Ashley Alexandra Dupre
10) David Vitter --- J) Golan Cipel