What a sad melodrama has developed from Tiger Woods’ contrite confession of infidelity. Where else but within our southern neighbor could such a psychodrama unfold so “decently”? Beside his wife, who the devil needed to know the champion’s relationships? What was it about his “performances” off the field that would lead one to question his athletic ability or personal integrity? Did he commit acts of pedophilia, rob a bank, assault the homeless, defraud investors or participate in terrorist activities? No… so?
Did comedian Charlie Sheen, known for his romps with prostitutes, ever feel the need to publicly express the pangs of guilt he felt for his notorious behavior? The highest paid actor in American television doesn’t care and he’s right not to. A drama, as optional as it is laughable, involving a champion admitting to actions unpopular in the public eye, raises the issue of competence threatened by image problems.
Consider this hypothesis: your child suffers from a life-threatening brain disease that requires the intervention of a highly-skilled neurologist. There are two in the world that could save his life. You have the choice between the best, with a 90 percent chance of success but a reputed womanizer, and the second best, unfailingly faithful but with only a 65 percent chance of success. Would you pick Mr. Faithful? Me neither.
Before Woods, only Bill Clinton had received so much media attention when he apologized for his infidelity. It was a good long while that Bill and Hillary had led separate private lives. The real humiliation for the First Lady had more to do with the fact that her husband was caught. It was a better time then, when the worst threat that the country faced was called Lewinsky. The inappropriate disclosure of a private matter had nevertheless almost led to the impeachment of one of the otherwise most respected American presidents, all because he initially denied the facts. Ridiculous.
His successor, George W. Bush, who, by comparison, evoked a lame ugly duckling, was, on the other hand, never recognized for any of his infidelities. Instead, he and his administration lied about Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction, and the supposed links between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, before launching an illegal and murderous war, all without anyone seeking his impeachment. Morality outweighed the national interest.
Barack Obama, whose Senate supermajority would have called for inquiry commissions in order to shed light on eight disastrous years, has been maneuvering for the mid-term elections. Charging his predecessor runs the risk of inciting Republicans. In seeking Bush’s aid in reconstructing Haiti, the Democratic president even gave him a shot at redemption. You have to hand it to the Republicans when it comes to the art of fundraising…
Should we conclude that it’s better to be corrupt and faithful than constructive and flighty? Even if Clinton’s image suffered in the short-term, his popularity since then has never been stronger. As for Bush, even if he avoids being held accountable, his image will forever be tarnished, even in the eyes of most Americans. With him gone, the Republicans still remain. Who will take charge? Sarah Palin, Fox’s newest recruit? Despite nearly 20 lawsuits for breaches of ethics and abuses of power, no revelations of adultery hold her back. If she’s simple-minded, then there is still hope…