Knowledge by Proxy

Sunday’s New York Post brought the story that Governor Paterson was seen in a New Jersey restaurant, being affectionate with a woman not his wife.  The governor asserted that it was a business meeting, but it didn’t appear that way to a reasonable observer.

I’m disappointed.  Not because the reporter didn’t get to the bottom of the governor’s relationship with the woman, nor because it’s yet another example of the stupidfication of the news.  Shortly after Governor Paterson replaced the previous governor, he reported, as a pre-emptive strike to the gossip columnists, that he had had affairs in the past, but the past was past, and he was now having a happy, or at least functional, marriage.  And now that seems in doubt.

But why should I care?

After all, if the governor cheats on his wife, she is the only real victim of the event, and it’s her decision as to how to handle it.  It really doesn’t affect the rest of us.

Well, maybe.

I expect my leaders to have integrity and a sense of personal honor.  Now I can’t follow the governor around and watch him make all his governmental decisions.  And even if I could, I wouldn’t necessarily be able to observe his actions and determine that he had handled every situation honorably.

But I can observe how he handles what is, for many of us, a deep personal commitment.  If he behaves honorably with respect to his marriage, I’m more willing to believe that he will handle his executive responsibilities with honor.  It’s not foolproof, of course, but it’s a useful indication.

But then again, he works in Albany.  What should I expect?

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