Tuesday, September 02, 2008

today : Bristol fashion; not ship-shape

The private lives of politicians DO matter. It's context. If a politician makes a point of decrying adulterers and then is caught in an adulterous tryst then he or she has forfeited their right to separate private and public. The same on any given issue. A politician who campaigns on reducing debt and then is found to have overwhelming debts is in a similar position.

I found the dilemma myself as a school teacher. Having to present lessons on non-smoking, alcohol and sex, whilst knowing that my private opinions were at odds with what I was teaching. Actually they were not always at odds but mainly more complex than the line presented on a worksheet. The difference is that I was fulfilling orders - presenting material specified by a curriculum. I was not voted into my job as a result of my personal opinions or behaviour.

Yes, there are grey areas. Doctors who lecture their patients on the dangers of smoking then light up themselves are blatant hypocrites. But does this affect their ability to prescribe nicorette, or alter the facts they present as persuasion? I think not. Doctors, like teachers do not put themselves forward as leaders.

Which is why Sarah Palin's daughter's pregnancy matters. Palin supports the teaching of abstinence only, 'family values' and a traditional Christian moral outlook. It's unfortunate for the daughter, but she is now but she is the poster girl for how teaching abstinence only is a lunatic stance. Perhaps if the girl's mother had accompanied her to a clinic and explained to her the options for contraception then she wouldn't be in this position.

The episode puts Palin's political and policy judgement in question. Not only was it compounded by the fact that it was cynically put out on a day when the media was obsessed with Hurricane Gustav, but undermines Palin's suitability to be VP to an elderly guy in remission from cancer. Leaders are not just what they say, but what they do. If you don't want to be judged on moral issues, don't pronounce them for political gain in the first place.

No comments:

Post a Comment