I think it is time we admit that it is a bad idea to turn consensual sex between adults into political fodder. Start down that road, and public figures (and their families) are needlessly humiliated, useful careers are destroyed, and citizens are left feeling cynical.
Certainly, when cynicism about virtue in high places becomes so abundant, we need to be concerned. But what do we do? Some people would say that because these public figures and supposed "role models" have committed adultery, they deserve to be outed, and that if they don't suffer some consequences, our young people won't know right from wrong.
I suppose we could try going this route again: teaching values to the young by conducting sexual witch hunts. But what will they really learn? That adults are nasty and unforgiving.
But publicly humiliating anyone for consensual adultery is draconian, and wrong. It teaches children cynicism. What they see is how little respect there is for privacy, and how gratuitously and harshly adults will harm one another to gain a little power. And using adultery or any aspect of consensual adult sexuality as a weapon in political battles is more abhorrent than the act itself.
You might say that how and why we disapprove of adultery is as important as whether we do.
Part II to come ... :) And here is part II...
-- Janna Malamud Smith (New York Times Editorial); December 1998
(Please note, this post did not originally include the name of the author and the date so as to invoke a response attributable to the different political climate in March of 2018.)