Privacy and politics Candidacy: Are we moving down a road that would make anyone think twice about public service?

October 05, 1998

TAKE A LOOK at what the Clinton-Starr thrusts and parries have wrought: a rogue's gallery of officials with indiscretions in their past, a lineup that includes Reps. Henry Hyde, Judiciary Committee chairman, Dan Burton, and Helen Chenoweth.

The bigger issue is, do we want to go there? Do we as a society want to have an open-door policy on the privacy of every politician?

The chilling effect is already here, prompting Texas Gov. George W. Bush to stop and think about whether he wants to expose every detail of his life by running for the presidency in 2000. Nothing is out of bounds by today's rules. There seems to be no statute of limitation on trolling one's past.

In the Hyde case, the FBI has been called in to find the leaks. Do we want our primary domestic investigative agency to peer under every fig leaf?

Our European and other allies are right to be alarmed about this unsavory concern with the salacious that threatens to gridlock the sole superpower.

Equally troubling is the prospect that, as in the case of Governor Bush, people will think twice about making a commitment to public service. Already, good candidates for elective office at all levels are in short supply.

Can we, as a nation, stand a further dwindling of the numbers because of privacy concerns?

Pub Date: 10/05/98

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.