Carlucci Throws Racket At Wife!!!
ROMING THE REAL WORLD:
A fiercely competitive tennis player, Mr. Carlucci plays on his own court in the backyard of his McLean, Virginia home, which a Washington monthly recently assessed at $1 million. Although Marcia, his second wife, is regarded as a better tennis player, he is known publicly to criticize her game in their doubles matches.
The New York Times. November 6, 1987
IF The New York Times finds it appropriate these days to include, in a profile of the new Secretary of Defense, observations about his tennis game, then one can only imagine the gossip less restrained newspapers might turn into banner headlines. "CARLUCCI THROWS RACKET AT WIFE: Cites Stupid Double Fault," perhaps.
Although his tennis pro wife Marcia probably got a kick out of the Times article, it is doubtful that Carlucci found it so funny. Despite the tongue-in-cheek tone, the reporter nonetheless was implying that a man's misbehavior on the tennis court might offer some insight into his possible performance in office.
This is scary. The issue is not a man's right to yell at his wife (or vice versa) on the privacy of his own tennis court. The issue is the public's right to know about a politician's private life. So Frank Carlucci is a cut-throat egomaniac who yells at his wife because he is insecure about his baseline game. What right does any newspaper have to tell us about this and why in the world should we care?
In the Carlucci case, the problem is not so critical because McEnroesque tantrums on the tennis courts don't bring out the armchair moralizers like Judge Ginsburg's pot smoking, Sen. Biden's plagiarizing, or Gary Hart's womanizing. For those men, revelations about their private lives had much graver consequences. Ginsburg's Supreme Court nomination fell through and Biden and Hart had to withdraw from the presidential campaign.
BAD judgment, people cried. If public figures misbehave in private, then how can we trust them in office? Good character is an important quality of leadership. Adulterers and plagiarizers should not be models for children to admire. Public figures have to meet a certain standard of behavior just because they are in the spotlight.
Phooey. Without defending the Seven Sins (although a few, like Gluttony and Sloth, do have their good points), it must be pointed out that there is no historical or logical reason for supposing that bad personal judgment has any connection whatsoever to policy judgment.
Some of our best Presidents have been adulterers. The unfaithful husbands in modern times (so far as we know) were Franklin Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and John Kennedy--three of the 20th century's best presidents. Thomas Jefferson was reviled in his day for allegedly keeping a slave mistress. Cleveland was a tavern brawler who admitted to fathering an illegitimate child. Lincoln, although apparently faithful to his wife, hated his father so much that he didn't even show up at his funeral.
Following the Ten Commandments has little to do with being a good leader. If that is not clear, then just imagine turning the current argument against Ginsburg or the others around. Suppose we judged men or women by their moral strengths, not simply their weaknesses.Would we want the nation's nicest person to become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court? To be President?
WE SHOULD judge public figures by their public records. What should matter are their previous actions and experiences and their current views and ideas. That's where questions of judgment and hypocrisy can be relevant. As to their personal habits, we have to remember that we are not marrying these people; we are electing or appointing them. Gary Hart's affairs should be an issue with Lee Hart, not with any other voters.
When discussions of character become issues then they lead to the kinds of absurdities seen in Judge Ginsburg's case. Some experimenting with marijuana and the poor man is forced to make statements to the press. To those of us in college now, that comes as quite a blow. Gov jocks must quaking about that crazy night at Quincy when they got sick on the Master's residence or that paper extension that turned into three weeks. How much should mistakes now cost us later?
People just shouldn't be held accountable for those kinds of things 20 years down the road. What really is a sin is that Judge Ginsburg had to face this issue at all. Smoking a little pot is in no way going to affect a judge's decisions. We have to give our leaders more credit than that. We have to trust them to leave their personal lives in their bedrooms and be businesslike about our nation's business. It's been done before, it's being done now, and it certainly will be done in the future.
If anyone still worries about the relationship between personal indiscretions and public performance perhaps we can satisfy them by asking the indiscreet to be more careful. A word to Judge Ginsburg and he will probably have agreed to keep doobies out of his judge's chambers. As for the hyper-competitive Mr. Carlucci? Perhaps somebody should simply ask him to decline all tennis invitations from Politburo members.