Skeleton closets and politicians

There are two things politicians fear most: the skeletons in their closets and powerful opponents with enough influence to determine one’s political future.

The worst types of skeleton closets are the ones politicians try to conceal. A politician’s future is often determined by what he or she did and who he or she met. (which often translates to who they have slept with)

Richard Nixon had to leave office while more incriminating evidence was piling up to prove his paranoia of failure; Former president Bill Clinton got impeached because of an extra-marital affair with Monica Lewinsky; Ex-New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer had to resign because of his affair with a high-class prostitute.

Then there are the opponents. These adversaries sometimes have common interests with others, and will do anything to destroy and conquer. An example of this has been shown in the recent ousting of former-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who found himself playing by himself the dirty little games everyone else was playing in Illinois politics. As soon as the Madigans, Giannoulias and others saw in Blago’s exposure an opportunity to advance to higher ranking positions, the game was over.

Blagojevich’s case is not the most common, though. Often times, attacks from opponents do not succeed, even though they still hurt. Barack Obama had to shield himself from the GOP, which accused during the 2008 presidential campaign of hanging out with anti-patriotic ex-terrorists such as Bill Ayers.

Franklin Roosevelt risked his political career a few times, too. Maybe the closest he got to failing, during his years as governor of New York, was during the trial of then mayor of New York City, Jimmy Walker. The corrupt mayor, who loved the city’s night life and had a very open extra-marital relationship, was a symbol of the untouchable power that Tammany Hall had so far represented.

By trying to oust Walker, Roosevelt was going to show he had the moral strength to stand up to corrupt politicians. Perhaps his impulsiveness, combined with an extra dose of self-confidence, helped Roosevelt through the trial. Or maybe it was just luck that helped him out by having the Catholic Church not support Walker in the upcoming special reelection for mayor.


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