Christine Todd Whitman
The Washington Post
June 26, 2009

Wednesday saw the second public official in as many weeks to publicly confess to an affair that may end his political career. Given some of the resurrections we have seen, you can never say that someone is politically “dead”, but I believe the public tolerance for such behavior, particularly from people who have been so outspoken in their moral superiority, has worn very thin.

Sanford’s career is over as far as I am concerned, not because of his affair, but because he abandoned the state for five days. As a former governor, I can attest to the fact that such behavior is absolutely inexcusable. Given this irresponsibility, I would not be surprised if the resignation talk gets to the point of his having to step down. Senator John Ensign is in a different position – his problem is just basic hypocrisy.

The real issue with all the indiscretions we have witnessed in recent years – including Governor Eliot Spitzer and President Bill Clinton, to name a couple more, is what it says to young people. How can we expect the next generation to view their elected officials – or even simply the offices they hold – with any respect, to say nothing of the valuable institution of marriage? How can we expect them to vote or get involved in the political process?

The actions of these individuals belie the notion of a “higher office”, and the deception they have wrought may seriously jeopardize the next generation’s civic participation.