While the rest of us common folk are accountable to our boss, spouse, kids and conscience, politicians seem to repeatedly skate out of controversy, scandal and bad ethics without a scratch.
No matter what their ideological stripe, politicians often get themselves into trouble yet come out unscathed. Bill Clinton’s “sexual relations”, Ralph Klein’s men’s shelter rant and Gordon Campbell’s “had one to many” Hawaiian vacation are just a few high profile examples of politicians who have crossed the line but live to tell about it. Christy Clark has just been elected the leader of the BC Liberals and the province’s next Premier in spite of the fact that she and her family were linked to a fraud scandal. It still remains to be seen if federal Minister Bev Oda will rise above her memo-altering affair, and if Alberta MLA Raj Sherman can recover from making serious and currently evidence-less allegations about Alberta’s health care system.
Halfway around the world, the same Teflon coating applies. There is Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, embroiled in a massive sex scandal, but still leading in public opinion polls. All while Germany’s cool defence minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, is expected to survive the scandal involving him plagiarizing most of his PhD thesis.
So if you or I abused our power at work or broke laws while on the job, the consequences would likely be very different. So what is it about a politician’s DNA that ensures scandal and controversy never stick?
Do they have limitless stamina, allowing them to tough through the bad times knowing that this too shall pass?
Do they employ great PR people and spin doctors that know how to strategically message and communicate them out of their mess?
Is it that democracy is based on the fact that voters have short term memories? So what people care about today will not be what they even think about a few months from now.
As law makers, are politicians not held to a higher standard? Or is it simply that we are a forgiving bunch? Because deep down, we know we are all human.