I’ve always wondered why it’s so important that we are told about politicians’ indiscretions. Nine times out of ten, it has next to no impact on the performance of their elected duties and yet, the media needs to tell us every grisly detail. This minute examination of their antics, tends to make them take their eye off the ball of the real job at hand of running the country.
Headlines scream out that so-and-so has been having an affair, leaving their spouse devastated and the family in ruins. Usually this is an exaggeration and, left to their own devices, most of them would just sort it out like adults. But, no, they’re not allowed to. They have to be subjected to the public pillory that is today’s news.
It’s not like politicians should be responsible for public morals. Surely, they should be judged upon their deeds in office not various bedrooms.
The big news story today centred around the French president, François Hollande and his, alleged, affair with an actress. He has a tough economic report to give today, with important moves to cut unemployment and improve French finances but the news is all about the affair.
I heard a French journalist on the radio saying, with lashings of impatience, that his sex life was totally unimportant when placed alongside the French economy. When pushed, she, more or less said that the English press always preferred the salacious to the important. In France, she added,the sexual indiscretion was unimportant as long as it didn’t impact on his job. And there’s the problem.
The infamy soon overshadows the real issues, which then affects his performance as leader of the country. It happened to Bill Clinton back when Monica Lewinsky hit all the headlines and his presidency was all but forgotten. He weathered the storm and went on to a second term but I wonder why he had to.
Some commentators will no doubt say that when these powerful people are having an affair that their minds are only on the sex and not on their work. Is that also the case for newlyweds? Or single politicians? We have a very odd society that delights in the morals of its leaders over their effective running of the country.
I’d like to think that François Hollande will be permitted to present his case for the future of France but I doubt it.