Watching the same people who tried to lynch Bill Clinton for his sexual peccadillos as they try to save Illinois GOP Senate candidate Jack Ryan from his is just too, too funny.
William Saletan at Slate lines up the arguments of Ryan and his supporters here.
Juan Cole, the most consistently readable egghead around, has an excellent post dealing with the more substantive questions, such as: Should we care about Ryan's private life? No – except to the extent that our knowledge of it informs us about what kind of public servant he'd make:
"Bottom line, the question for the good people of Illinois should not be whether Ryan is kinkier than [his Democratic opponent, Barack] Obama, but a) whether Ryan still uses people instrumentally to get his rocks off and b) whether Ryan could accomplish something for their state that Obama cannot."
And Cole gets to the real heart of the old pot-and-kettle problem here:
"The lesson for the Republicans of all this is that the wages of Puritanism are hypocrisy. Henry Hyde, Newt Gingrich, and many other Republicans who tried to nail Clinton had also tried to nail women not their spouses and were no better than Clinton morally. In fact, no one is better morally than anyone else as a matter of ontology or being. Some deeds are better than others, and some people achieve better deeds more often than others. Some people are capable of higher ethical standards than others. But human beings are not in the nature of the case morally perfect beings. Since that is so, it is crazy for the American public to want its politicians to be saints (they aren't), and the desire merely produces hypocrisy, which in turn corrodes ideals and the moral order."
Unfortunately, this is too elevated a concept for the people most in need of understanding it.