Facebook Twitter



Contrary to pompous punditry, character is more important in assessing political candidates than issues.

A candidate's stand on issues is a promise. Whether he will keep the promise depends more on his character than on the promise. In fact, character determines what kinds of promises a candidate will make.It's a fact in these cynical times that most positions on issues are arrived at by campaign professionals based on public opinion polling. To say it another way, the public is polled to find out what it wants and how it feels about certain issues. Then, based on these results, the candidate feeds it all back.

Of course the candidate doesn't say he's feeding back the results of polling. He says these are positions he arrived at independently. It's cold-blooded deception, and that's why you should pay very little attention to issues.

All of this is applicable to Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton's escapades. The Establishment press is trying to salvage Clinton since he's the one Democrat most likely to duplicate President Bush's administration. They have tried to salvage him by suggesting that it's improper to make any decisions based on his personal misbehavior.

The exact opposite is the truth.

When a man is unfaithful to his wife, there are a number of things you can logically infer from this knowledge.

First, his word is no good. The man took a public and solemn vow to remain faithful, to honor and cherish a woman and he broke that vow. Public officials also make public vows - they swear an oath. You have to be stupid to think a man who would break one vow wouldn't break another.

Second, the philandering husband is a liar. They always lie until they get caught, at which point they begin to make excuses or grovel. There is no reason to suppose that a man who would lie to his own family would not also lie to voters.

Third, you can safely infer that the person lacks self-discipline. They wanted more to indulge their transient desires than they wanted to keep faith and to keep their word. Such people are easily corruptible, and the last thing you want in public office are easily corruptible people who cannot discipline their own desires and impulses.

Finally, such people have no honor. The honorable thing to do if a man falls out of love with a woman is to tell her, get a divorce, and go on with his life. Otherwise, remain faithful. Marriage is both a personal bond and a legal contract.

People should not confuse forgiveness with trust. If Mrs. Clinton wishes to forgive Mr. Clinton his transgressions, that's their business. She was the one who was wronged, not the public. The public's only interest in Clinton is can he be trusted in the office he wants? That involves an intellectual judgment. Logically, the answer is no, or at least the uncertainty that he can be trusted is so great that voters would be foolish to gamble. In theory, people can change; in practice, the record shows only a small fraction of about 1 percent ever do.

The only sound basis on which to attempt to predict the future behavior of a human being is the record of his or her past behavior. People can say anything. Words are not a reliable indicator of anything except the degree of skill in using words. In the case of political candidates, this is especially true because, most often, even the words are not theirs but those of a hired speechwriter.

What the cynical political manipulators want you to do is look at the candidate's position on the so-called issues for exactly the same reason mouthwash sellers prefer that you look at their advertising rather than analyze their product.