Appalling behavior

The president's conduct as revealed in Kenneth Starr's report to Congress is appalling and indefensible. He has been self-indulgent and careless of the truth and of other people's lives. He has betrayed the trust of his family and supporters for the sake of furtive sexual gratification with a naïve intern, and he has lied about it to his family, the special prosecutor, his colleagues and the nation. He sought out "casual" sex and discovered, as people generally do, that it's a dangerous illusion.

But the probe of politicians' sexual lives is appalling in its own way, and the scope of Starr's investigation is difficult to defend. The distinction between public and private life may be blurry at times and is never absolute, but some distinction of this sort must be preserved. Otherwise, politics becomes impossible.


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