If you don’t want to see it in print
The Aspen Times has on its masthead:
If you don’t want to see it in print, don’t let it happen.The sad stories of Republican Senator Stevens of Alaska and Democratic presidential aspirant and former Senator John Edwards are recent reminders the wisdom of that warning.
These two scandals are neither identical nor equivalent. Each is bad in its own way. Senator Stevens maintains his innocence. Senator Edwards no longer does. Senator Stevens is under indictment. Senator Edwards is not. But what they have in common are highly embarrassing reports of activities that would normally be considered mortal wounds to a political career. Senator Stevens will certainly have a tough challenge to retain his Senate seat. Senator Edwards will not be the Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee. The tree of trust and credibility, once felled, can only be re-grown slowly, if at all.
The scandals also have in common a warning about the temptations of high office. By historical standards, these scandals are not the most shocking cases. Given human frailties, they will not be the last. Against scandalous behavior there is the power of self control, the power of the law (when it applies), and the power of the press. When the first two fail, the third is there to remind us that “If you don’t want to see it in print, don’t let it happen.”
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(and yes, we know that sometimes they're very, very wrong. Other times, they're right on.)