During lunch today, I fired up the old Tivo and watched the first fifteen or so minutes of Letterman. He often gets on joke “themes” that he continues to reiterate during the course of the broadcast, and this one centered around Gov. Elliot Spitzer’s “Client 9” prostitution scandal. Letterman, albeit a funny guy, kept repeating something rather serious and fairly close to home: Gov. Spitzer is guilty of more than prostitution. The real problem is his abuse of power (see part of the Letterman’s rant here).
The reason this event strikes a chord with me revolves around the ordeal that took place a bit over a year ago regarding the pastor the church I was attending. While proclaiming that the church was going to be a beacon of hope and light to the “world” (and all the other rhetoric that pastors with illusions of grandeur like to repeat ad nauseum), he secretly conducted multiple extra-marital affairs while happily taking our “tithe” money to support this lifestyle.
When all this came out, he was rather indignant about the whole situation and, for whatever reason, did not see his abuse of power as a significant problem. He also continued to rail about his “calling” and how the “mission” was far more important than his personal faults. Ummm … yeah.
Look, it matters. If you can’t control yourself and continue to have sexual affairs outside the bounds of normalcy and legality, don’t become a public servant. This is not something new: in both my ex-pastor’s case and Gov. Spitzer’s case, it was a pattern of behavior that lasted over a period of several years. This may have shocked us, but it was only a matter of time before a person in that sort of limelight would get caught. Both gentleman could have simply decided to do something else and limit the collateral damage of their abusive behavior. There are lots of jobs out there for plumbers, programmers, electricians, small-company owners, etc.
There is a higher standard of expectation for public servants than for, say, a car mechanic because they are quite literally paid to not do bad things. If you’re a pastor, part of your job is being an example and leader on moral issues. Same with politicians. A mechanic is paid to fix a car. If a mechanic ever got caught with a prostitute, most customers probably wouldn’t care as long as their car runs. That’s what they paid the mechanic for. I didn’t pay my ex-pastor to sleep with other women while simultaneously espousing the ideals of abstinence and monogamy, and the people of New York didn’t pay Elliot Spitzer to crack down on prostitution while simultaneously spending thousands of dollars for the services of a prostitute.
What do you think?