Saturday, February 09, 2019


While the search continues in Virginia for a Caucasian  male over forty who didn't wear black-face while in college, and for a politician in the home of Thomas Jefferson who hasn't sexually assaulted a woman, Rumpole wonders where we draw the line on a person's youthful stupidity? 

First, there is no comparison between the two sexual assault allegations against Virginia's lieutenant Governor and the black-face allegations against Virginia's Governor and Attorney General. There is no forgiveness for sexual assault assuming the multiple allegations are true. 

However, in an age where youthful mistakes are digitally captured and stored forever, where do we draw the line between a successful adult and a stupid act twenty or thirty years ago? 

Rumpole was not raised in the south. The offensive tradition of black-face is foreign to us. But apparently it is common among white Virginia college age men. It appears that the black-face parody is not so much (in current times) overt racism as much as it is stupid insensitivity to the suffering of African Americans for the first two hundred years of our country.  BUT, the Rumpole critic roars in indignation, "if you were Jewish how would you feel about pictures of your Governor partying in college dressed as an SS Trooper?"  "If you were Asian Rumpole, how would you feel about your Governor prancing around at a college party dressed as a Chinese "coolie" yelling "no tickeee-no-laundry"?" 
Very badly, Rumpole admits. 

But can people mature? Can we overlook certain moral failings in leaders who are otherwise historically good? 
Would today's General Eisenhower be removed from command (and banished from public service) for the revelation of an affair with a young woman on his staff? #METOO would roar about the inequities of a young aid submitting to the sexual desires of a powerful older  man who is her supervisor.
And what of General Eisenhower's superior? Would Franklin Roosevelt's presidential campaign have survived the revelation of his long-time affair? 
Would President Johnson have been able as a senator to shepherd the first civil rights bill through the senate if his philandering ways had been revealed? 
Who would have been President in 1962 and have had the courage to stand down his generals who were advocating bombing and invading Cuba- a certain preclude to nuclear war- if candidate John Kennedy's multiple dalliances with young women who clearly were not on equal terms of power with him had been revealed and he was forced to withdraw from the race?

Do we diminish Martin Luther King's accomplishments and moral leadership because he was not faithful to his wife? 
Do we discount our Jeffersonian democracy because Jefferson owned and slept with his slaves? 

In short, if we only accept leaders who are morally perfect in every way, are we defaulting to mediocrity?  This is not to say that we should accept moral failings. This country was founded on the racist idea that certain humans (blacks)  were three fifth's of a person.  Our success is that we confronted our failings and rose above them (although it took way too long). 

Who do you want landing your plane in a storm? A mediocre pilot who is faithful to his wife, or the best damn aviator the airline has who sleeps around on her husband? 
Which surgeon do you want operating on you? The barely competent  one who spent her college years tucked away in her dorm room, or the arrogant college jock who mocked Hispanics but matured into the most talented, kind, and caring surgeon who deeply regrets his actions and donates his time to doctors without borders to atone for his actions in college?  

To put it in our terms, what about the wise judge who twenty years ago as a young lawyer struggled in business and ended up with a tax lien that took a few years to pay off. Should they be disqualified from holding office and instead should we have a wealthy, spoiled, and indifferent judges with no tax liens but also no common sense? 

None of us are perfect.  "Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone." 

What worries us is not so much the leaders who we force to resign, as much as the future President Roosevelts and General Eisenhowers who never choose to serve because there is a picture of them at age 18 or 20 doing something offensive and stupid as 18 and 20 year olds are wont to do. Are we condemning ourselves to a future of mediocre but morally correct leaders? That is the worst tragedy of all. 


Anonymous said...

If I am a Democrat, my defense is easy. "Hey, Ted Kennedy killed a woman, was a serial philanderer, molested a waitress at a well known restaurant, and was a rip roaring drunk. And, even today, he is treated as a saint of our party, the Lion of the senate. So if I can beat that standard, leave me alone.!"

Rumpole said...

And my ignorant and blind friend, can you name me one bill Kennedy passed? One thing he did in the senate?
You cannot, because you do not know anything about him other than what you wrote. I doubt if you know anything about the senate. Without googling it you think "cloture" is the room where you leave you winter coat at a restaurant.

Anonymous said...

What am I missing. According to what I read he was responsible for the passage of hundreds of bills. Just a synopsis:

Kennedy played a major role in passing many laws, including the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, the National Cancer Act of 1971, the COBRA health insurance provision, the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Ryan White AIDS Care Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1991, the Mental Health Parity Act, the S-CHIP children's health program, the No Child Left Behind Act, and the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.

Kennedy worked with Republican Senator Nancy Kassebaum to create and pass the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act in 1996, which set new marks for portability of insurance and confidentiality of records.[174] The same year, Kennedy's Mental Health Parity Act forced insurance companies to treat mental health payments the same as others with respect to limits reached.[174] In 1997, Kennedy was the prime mover behind the State Children's Health Insurance Program,[219] which used increased tobacco taxes to fund the largest expansion of taxpayer-funded health insurance coverage for children in the U.S. since Medicaid began in the 1960s.

Kennedy wrote more than 300 bills that were enacted into law.

Anonymous said...

So what is the point Rump? You can be a criminal and sexual degenerate so long as you are an effective senator?

Anonymous said...

My weren't we grumpy last night Rump, lol.

Anyway, I share your concerns. The reality is that we're all human beings and people change over time (at least I hope so. I'd like to think our priorities, beliefs, and judgment change as we get older and experience more that life has to offer). As long as he or she is not doing anything illegal, I'm not terribly concerned about what a politician does or doesn't do in his or her personal life and every mistake they've ever made. I focus on their overall performance as professionals (ie. what they've accomplished, how they've accomplished it, etc).

Most people I know would never subject themselves to the nastiness that characterizes today's politics (politics has always been nasty, but, the internet facilitates the nastiness in a way most of us could not have imagined 30 years ago). Truly sad.


Rumpole said...

Yes 6:27 your perspicacity and intelligence are right on point. That is 100% precisely and exactly the point I was trying to make. The fact that it seeped into your thick head is such a proud moment in my career as a blogger I'm not sure what else there is for me to achieve,

Anonymous said...

I hope we do come to grips with that because all of these kids these days are putting stuff out there that could well be a problem.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole - this is the best post ever. You are so right. PS: I love reading about the love story of the Former Judge and his Movie Star Wife. Tell us more ...

Anonymous said...

627: Some people commit acts so heinous that I'd never vote for them, despite what they've accomplished. There's no arguing that. I think Rump's point (which I agree with) is that the over the top vitriolic attacks that are taking place today do us a disservice.


Rump....…….have a drink on me, sounds like you need one. LOL.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post.Again! My sentiments articulated so well.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Rump but Kennedy was a bad guy. His life was not the story of one error in judgment or of a youthful pattern of wrongs later recanted and forgiven. He exploited his wealth and privilege for all the wrong reasons and for most of his adult life. Sorry, i cannot forgive a guy for killing a woman and then lying about it to save his ass. And then instead of going away and hiding and hoping God has mercy on his soul, he continues to abuse alcohol and younger women until he is too old get off on it. Sorry. No pass for him.