At the Philadelphia Inquirer today, Karen Heller pooh-poohs the idea a candidate—say, like Herman Cain—should have to give up pursuing the presidency just because of adultery allegations. "Adoring your spouse is an admirable quality, particularly in one's own partner. But fidelity shouldn't be the determining factor on which candidate gets your vote. Richard Nixon was faithful to Pat, just not to the Constitution," she writes.
I don't entirely disagree: I wrote something similar back when Anthony Weiner was in hot water. But that said: It's absolutely a good thing that Cain was driven from the race.
Why? Not because of the adultery allegations, at least not on their own. The problem is that the adultery allegations came after stories that Cain had sexually harassed subordinates back when he was running the restaurant lobbying association. Essentially: He used and abused his power to try to get women to go to bed with him. Those allegations didn't merely suggest Cain was a bad boy in his private life; they suggested that Cain handled the perks of leadership in selfish, abusive, distorted fashion. That should be the concern of voters—and to my mind, should've been enough to drive him from the race on their own. The adultery allegations were the straw that broke the camel's back.
So I agree with Heller: Adultery, on its own, shouldn't be a disqualifier from high office. When it's combined with power abuses, though, there's a real problem. It would've been nice if she'd at least acknowledged that part of the story, instead of stripping it down to a mere tale of adultery.