Steve Benen was motivated to raise this question after the New York Times published "a 2,000- word front-page dissection of Bill and Hillary Clinton's marriage." Benen said, "It contained no real news, few named sources, and plenty of gossip masquerading as political coverage." Picking up on the NY Times piece a few days later, Benen notes that noted columnist David Broder wrote "that the failure of reporters in the post-speech Q&A to grill Hillary about her personal relationship with her husband was the 'elephant in the room.'"
Benen writes that "there was once a time when reporters believed that the sexual peccadilloes of American leaders were a private matter, and the nation was probably betteer off for that belief." But if private matters are to be an issue in the next presidential election, he thinks "Republicans have the most to lose." Here's a taste of what he has to say:
Lurking just over the horizon are liabilities for three Republicans who have topped several national, independent polls for the GOP's favorite 2008 nominee: Sen. John McCain (affair, divorce), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (affair, divorce, affair, divorce), and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (divorce, affair, nasty divorce). Together, they form the most maritally challenged crop of presidential hopefuls in American political history.
His piece goes on to offer far more sordid details about each of the would-be presidents sexual pecadilloes. Given the dominance of the Christian right in the Republican party, none of these three candidates stand a chance at winning the nomination. My hunch is that one-by-one the likes of James Dobson will begin lining up behind Gov. Mitch Romney of Massachusetts, particularly since he's so happy to be the poster boy for the fight against gay marriage.