Private lives of politicians...

*Lisa* - posted on 05/22/2010 ( 30 moms have responded )

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This is big news in my hometown at the moment.
The transport minister of NSW Australia was filmed by a television news crew leaving a gay sex club. They then put it all over the news. Mr Campbell (the politician in question) is a 52 year old married man with 2 children. He resigned from his position as soon as it hit the news.

The premier of NSW said the following:
"It is not unforgivable what he did," Ms Keneally said at the Sydney Writers Festival.
"It is unacceptable to lie, but it is equally unacceptable to live in a community where your sexuality is not accepted.
"This is a secret that he has lived with, in terms of his own sexuality, for over two decades and it is distressing, it is in fact unforgivable, that he lived with a secret, that he misrepresented himself to his wife and to his community and his colleagues," she said.

Do the personal lives of politicians matter? Would it change your vote if you knew this about someone?
(Sorry I know this is not a political community, I was just generally curious what people thought).

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*Lisa* - posted on 05/22/2010

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That's just it though. Anyone can appear to be a great husband. Is it only because we know about Clinton's affair that it changed our opinion? While he was running the country making decisions and secretly committing adultery, what was your opinion then? Can we trust anyone really? Even Obama may have some great skeleton in the closet. I guess I'd like to care more about the character of the people in charge, but no one is perfect and everyone is capable of making bad choices in their personal lives. Nothing surprises me anymore.

Ez - posted on 05/22/2010

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I've been following this story with a permanent cringe :( The term I keep hearing used is that it was in the 'public interest'. From what I understand, Mr Campbell was actually using his State-funded car (and driver??) to visit the club. That is how the journalist who broke the story is justifying his intrusion into Mr Campbell's private life.

I'm kind of torn on this issue (must be the journalist in me lol). I think that anyone who enters the public sphere must expect that their private lives will be scrutinised. But then I personally don't care who a politician chooses to have sex with, as I don't think it has any relevance to their ability to do their job.

I feel terribly sorry for Mr Campbell's family, but I can't help feeling like visiting a gay sex club in his government car was just a stupid thing to do :-s It's no different than another politician going to a brothel, or a strip club, or a White Supremacist meeting. All of these things are controversial and therefore there will always be a journalist willing to run the story. Common sense tells you that if you are a public figure and want to remain unscathed by the media, then don't do anything so controversial. I honestly don't think this would have been such a big story if they were simply reporting that Mr Campbell was having an affair with a man. The story comes from the illicit encounter at the club and the fact that it fits the stereotypical casual, anonymous sex among gay men.

As for it changing my vote, I'm not sure. If it did, it would not be because he is gay, or bisexual, or has casual sex with the Cookie Monster. But because this incident has proven that he makes bad choices, that he has failed to see the bigger picture or predict consequences to his actions (ie, using a government car to go to a sex club DRASTICALLY increases your chances of being caught out).

Isobel - posted on 05/22/2010

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hmmm...I have a friend who is gay, and he and his wife decided together (both knowing full well that he was gay) to get married and raise a family...she didn't trust men based on her violent past and he didn't want the world to know he was gay...they were best friends and wanted to be together forever.

There is a possibility that this man didn't hide his status from his wife and family, that he only hid it from a society that would refuse to hire him because of it.

*Lisa* - posted on 05/23/2010

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True. Politicians are knowingly putting themselves in the public eye straight up. They know they will be scrutinized so they need to be able to have the character to handle that pressure. Otherwise, they shouldn't bother entering politics. That being said, they are still human and just as likely to make mistakes as the rest of us. Their mistakes just get amplified by the media, which they kind of signed up for when they took the job. Gah. It's a tough one!

Christa - posted on 05/23/2010

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@Krista I agree with you about celebrities. They didn't ask to be a role model. But politicians are elected under certain pretenses. However they represented themselves, THAT is who the people elected. Now if someone was elected by people who don't care then this won't matter. But I think most people do look at their politicians as humans and expect them to be upstanding members of society.

@Lisa, no I didn't like Clinton to start with :-P But I understand that anyone can appear to be "good". I like to give people the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise rather then assuming everybody is scum. (and I realize in politics you are usually picking the less of two evils) That is why I say something like this would change my vote, because this person has demonstrated he is not a man of good character IMO. :-)

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[deleted account]

When you put your self in a public position you have to accept the fact that your life isnt your own anymore it belongs to journalists and public opinion. Therefore he should either have kept it in his pants while he was in office or not become a politician. If his wife and family cant trust him how can anyone else. ITs them i feel sorry for its them who have been publicly humiliated through no fault of their own.

[deleted account]

I'm not concerned about him being gay - I'm more concerned with the hurt he's caused his family. Having said that, I think his personal life is his personal life and no business of mine. His policies are my concern - except that I don't live in his electorate.

But I don't like the fact that he was using a government car. Government cars should be kept for government business. They probably aren't, but I still think they shouls be!

Dana - posted on 05/24/2010

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There's a huge difference between coming out 30 yrs ago and coming out today though and it also depends on what part of the world you live in.

Lea - posted on 05/24/2010

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No one forced him to run for public office. That was his choice. He knew that holding a public position means you live a public life. TONS of people have to be responsible and hold themselves to a certain standard, because their jobs require it, not just politicians. Teacher, for example. It was his choice to live a lie. My heart goes out to those people who think they have to hide because of bigotry, but thats not the answer. Surrounding yourself with people supportive to you, is. There are gay, and even trans gender people in the public, anyway. I am proud of them for not hiding, because they are paving the way for others' acceptance. More people need to do that.

*Lisa* - posted on 05/24/2010

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I agree with that. It's hard enough for them to go through it let alone everyone knowing about it.

Dana - posted on 05/24/2010

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Wow, I feel really bad for him and his wife then. It sucks that such a personal matter is thrown all over the TV.

*Lisa* - posted on 05/23/2010

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Yep he admits that it was a secret he had been carrying around for 2 decades. And apologized to his wife and family for letting them down then said he has a lot to work through with his wife.

Dana - posted on 05/23/2010

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Did he specifically apologize for lying about his lifestyle all these years?

*Lisa* - posted on 05/23/2010

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Yah that was in his own statement when he resigned. He apologised to his wife.

*Lisa* - posted on 05/23/2010

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I don't see how he is not being a liar by sneaking around behind his wife's back with other men?

Dana - posted on 05/23/2010

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I don't think it matters. What really sucks about it is that he's made to feel ashamed and he feels he has to hide it. What does this really change about him or his politics. Nothing.

Just because he's gay and married with children does not make him a liar.

Suzette - posted on 05/23/2010

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@Iris, good point and one I agree with.

@Krista,
Also a valid point, we should be role models to our children first. No, they didn't ask to be, but they aspire to be in that 'area' (so to speak) and they did know what it entailed when they aspired to achieve it. But, they are only human, not super human. They will make mistakes, it's our job to make sure that our children understand that.

As far as politicians, I don't believe that most children are role models to children either. I believe there are a few out there that do look up to them though. I also believe their character is exactly what you described it to be, the nature of the beast. lol.

Krista - posted on 05/23/2010

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I honestly don't think that politicians ARE role models to little kids. Kids admire sports heroes or celebrities. They don't have pictures of Bill Clinton up on their walls -- they have pictures of sports stars or actors or singers.

And actually, that whole discussion is a bit of a pet peeve of mine. Sports stars and actors and politicians and other people in the public eye did not ask to be role models. They simply wanted to do their job and make money. WE are the ones who imposed that role upon them, and then we berate them when it turns out that they are flawed human beings. It was like when everybody berated Michael Phelps for being caught with a bong, saying that he wasn't a good role model. He never ASKED to be a role model, or even really tried to present himself that way -- he just wanted to swim and win races.

As far as not caring about the character of politicians, I don't think it's a case of not caring so much as it is a case of being rather jaded. Even if a politician is a generally good person, they are still calculating and cynical and....political. 'Tis the nature of the beast.

Iris - posted on 05/23/2010

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I do think it matters if the politician speaks out against homosexuality and is then caught in bed with another man or leaving a gay club with a man.

But if the politician has never spoken out against it then I don't see why he should pay the price in his job.

Suzette - posted on 05/22/2010

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Christa,

"Suzette, I find it interesting that you appear to hold celebrities to a higher standard because they are role models. You don't think Clinton was a role model to little kids? Or Obama is now? I think they influence more kids then whoever the celebrity of the moment is.

P.S. I have to say that while I can't stand Obama, one thing I do really like about him is how he appears with his family. He appears to be a great husband and father and I really respect that about him, even if I disagree with everything that comes out of his mouth. I can not say the same about either of the Clintons."

I didn't mean to imply that I don't believe they're role models or that I hold celebrities to higher standers, if it was taken that way it wasn't supposed to be meant that way.

This particular politician was cheating, he wasn't abusing any substances. Yes, it's wrong to cheat, who's to say that his marriage wasn't an open one? No one knows that other than him and his wife.

If Clinton or Obama were abusing substances, then I'd expect them to take the proper course of action. Either resign or sign up for treatment. (Or both.) Show the youth, and society in general, that they are taking responsibility for their actions.

On a side note, I don't like Obama either because of his politics. I don't approve of how his wife presents herself in certain situations. On television she appears one way, yet there are pictures of her disembarking Airforce One you see that she's dressed looking like, I can't describe it as any other way except trashy. Trashy for what a First Lady should like that is. Yes, there are expectations for them to live up to, they all know that. (As role models and as their place in society.)

In regard to Obama being a great husband and father, I haven't paid enough attention to either, I pay more attention to his politics so I can't comment there.

About the Clintons, I have to say she's got to be one strong woman to have stood by her husband after what he did. In my opinion, that represents a strong marriage. (Or a strong support for a political agenda.)

Christa - posted on 05/22/2010

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I'm actually a little shocked that no one seems to care about the character of the people in the position to run and make major long term decisions about your country.

Suzette, I find it interesting that you appear to hold celebrities to a higher standard because they are role models. You don't think Clinton was a role model to little kids? Or Obama is now? I think they influence more kids then whoever the celebrity of the moment is.

P.S. I have to say that while I can't stand Obama, one thing I do really like about him is how he appears with his family. He appears to be a great husband and father and I really respect that about him, even if I disagree with everything that comes out of his mouth. I can not say the same about either of the Clintons.

Rosie - posted on 05/22/2010

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i'm a little torn. i have more of a problem with the person not being who they say they are, or portray themselves to be. i can't help but wonder what else are they faking, and lying about? like john edwards for instance. i could care less that he cheated on his wife, it was the whole lying to us part that makes me not trust anything that he says.

Suzette - posted on 05/22/2010

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I believe politicans and celebrities should have personal lives and personal lives should be just that, personal. Unless they are doing something criminal that is going to affect the general public, it shouldn't matter what they're doing. I personally do not care how many people they're having sex with. Who are we to say that his wife didn't know he was gay? There are people, as someone else stated, who get married and their partners know that they're homosexual. They are fully accepting of this fact and they do it anyway. Sometimes for family reasons, sometimes to help them further their careers. Of course, I doubt in this case it will be admitted if that is the case at all.



Celebrities should only be scrutinized, as far as drugs and alcohol, because they are role models to younger generations. That I do agree with - only because of the younger generations. However, those who do recover themselves also show younger generations the hard work that it takes to do so. (And I mean seriously recover, not this BS 30 day rehab and then fall back into the same stupid pattern.) On the other hand, younger generations can learn about the failure of those who don't recover themsevles as well. (I know, off topic, sorry!)



@Lisa,

Would it have changed my mind about President Clinton after what he did? No. Why not? Honestly, I believe that Lewinski was out for money (and fame). Beside that, even if she did do it purposely and he did fib about it, he still did his job. Even if there is some debate on how well he did it.



I also agree that this politican loses some credibility for lying to the public. He also should've been more discreet. Then again, as you stated, everyone screws up. He's only human, not a super human.

*Lisa* - posted on 05/22/2010

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I'm kind of torn on it. I mean I feel that he loses some credibility for the fact that he was living a lie for so many years. But then who hasn't had some kind of mess-up?? But at the same time if he was doing a great job at his job, should it matter? Incidentally apparently he wasn't the best at his job, but I just mean in general.
I agree with Erin that it was very silly to be driving a government car there, thus increasing his chances of being caught out.
So when President Clinton got caught out on his lie , did that not change your view on him? Would you still have voted for him regardless of his massive lie?

Krista - posted on 05/22/2010

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The only time I take an interest in a politician's private life is if it's proven them to be a hypocrite. If they made a business out of trying to get involved in citizens' personal lives, and to legislate what they do behind closed doors, then damn straight, it's our business when they get caught with their pants down, because they've just nullified all of their prior arguments.

But otherwise? If a politician wasn't a "family-values" scold or otherwise tried to put him/herself up on a holier-than-thou pedestal? If he or she was just a normal politician who didn't concern him-or-herself with citizens' sex lives? Then no...it's none of my concern.

Jenny - posted on 05/22/2010

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No a politician's private life is not relevant to their tasks in government. Elected officials are supposed to carry out the will of the people. Their character as far as marital relations goes is irrelevant to that task. If they were caught being a thief or bribery or something then maybe I'd actually care. Our Prime Minister can have sex with all the men he wants and it wouldn't change my opinion of his governing.

ME - posted on 05/22/2010

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I don't think this kind of thing matters really...now if a politician is committing crimes in his private life...THAT is our business!

Christa - posted on 05/22/2010

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Yes I think it matters. I think the character of politicians is the most important and the best way to see that is to look at their personal life and decisions. For me a situation likes this, the big deal is the lie. If he will lie to his wife and children, the people he supposedly cares about more then anyone, why wouldn't he lie to those he's representing. To me I don't know how someone could say what they do in private doesn't matter. When I make my vote I vote for the person who best represents who I am and appears to make decisions in the same manner I do. How would I know what they would do if they are a proven liar?

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