Gary Hart has withdrawn to the seclusion of his Rocky Mountain home, claiming that the nation's press, led by the Miami Herald, invaded his privacy. Donna Rice, an aspiring actress suddenly in the limelight, is spending most of her time denying to any reporter who will listen that there was anything immoral in her relationship with Hart. The national media, for the most part, is treating the rise and fall of the onetime front-runner as if it were nothing more than a morality play.
Yet the Hart debacle raises issues far more serious than whether or not Gary Hart, or any presidential candidate, has ever cheated on his wife, and the press's proper role in reporting this. The ramifications for national security, for the American family, and for the AIDS epidemic should be taken into account as we approach election year.
Former Senator Hart first attempted to play down the furor over his reported liaison with Ms. Rice with wan humor. He told the audience at a New York fund-raiser on May 5th that "After the past few days, I'll look forward to negotiating with Mikhail Gorbachev!"
How does he know he hadn't been? The reason why British Defense Secretary John Profumo and West German Chancellor Willy Brandt were driven from office was not because their extramarital affairs had offended puritanical elements within their countries. Rather it was because their questionable conduct had exposed...