News / USA

Sex Scandals Mar US Presidential Politics

Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain gestures to the crowd during a campaign stop in Detroit, Michigan (file photo)
Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain gestures to the crowd during a campaign stop in Detroit, Michigan (file photo)
Alex Villarreal

When U.S. businessman Herman Cain suspended his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination following allegations of sexual harassment and a lengthy extramarital affair, he joined a long list of U.S. presidents and presidential contenders whose personal lives have attracted scrutiny.

"I told you this bullseye on my back has gotten bigger," said Repubilcan presidential hopeful Herman Cain, the latest to come under the microscope. First, there were allegations of sexual harassment:

"He also grabbed my head," accuser Sharon Bialek told the press.

Then, there were claims of a 13-year affair. Public support for Cain has plummeted since.

"I think if you’re a cheater you’re a cheater, so to me he’s kind of out," a Washington area woman said.

"I personally don’t care if it’s a private matter or public, it reflects the character, it’s a decision, and is that the type of person we want to lead?" a Washington area man said.

From Presidents Thomas Jefferson to William Jefferson Clinton, sex scandals keep surfacing in American politics. They reveal the arrogance of politicians, says American University presidential historian Allan Lichtman.

"Sex scandals are particularly grating when they affect the so-called 'family values' candidates who seem to be preaching one thing and practicing another. That’s just a fundamental insult to the American people," he explained.

2008 Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards saw his political career destroyed, when Americans learned he had fathered a child in an affair with his campaign videographer.

In 1987, another Democratic presidential hopeful, Gary Hart, dropped out of the race when photos showed the married former senator on a yacht with a young model.

Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky (file photo)
Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky (file photo)

But sex scandals do not always end careers. Bill Clinton was in his second term as president when reports emerged of his affair with a White House intern.

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” then-President Bill Clinton told the nation.

Even after the House of Representatives impeached him for lying about the relationship, President Clinton maintained high approval ratings.  He remained in office after the Senate failed to convict him of the charges.

Pew Research Center Associate Director Michael Dimock says the public is willing to look past affairs if they see other good qualities in a politician.

"People really want to know about where candidates stand on the issues and what kind of leadership qualities they can show," Dimock said. "And while their honesty in their personal life is one reference point for people, it’s not necessarily a deal killer for everybody."

Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn leaves his apartment, hours after being questioned by police, in Paris September 12, 2011.
Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn leaves his apartment, hours after being questioned by police, in Paris September 12, 2011.

And the scandals are not limited to U.S. leaders.  In May, then-International Monetary Fund Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn lost his chance for the French presidency after a hotel maid in New York accused him of attempted rape.

In the U.S. race, it remains to be seen whether Cain's candidacy can survive, and whether one of his main Republican rivals, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who once stirred controversy with his own love affair, might see his past come back to haunt him.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs