I think I was misunderstood yesterday. I repeat: I don’t care what Kerry said 30 years ago; I care what he says today about what he said 30 years ago. In other words, what he said 30 years ago is of interest to me if he still believes it.

Someone could probably dig up a tape of George Bush shouting “Jesus Christ, I haven’t been this F#*$&in’ drunk in a week!” Does that somehow alter the fact that he’s a devout abstainer today? No. People change. So if you ask Kerry whether he believes US troops should be stationed around the world only under the auspices of the UN, he has several possible responses.

1. "I believed that then, but I was wrong, and let me explain."

2. "Yes, I still believe that, and let me explain."

3. Complex, evasive response that has it both ways – e.g., “while I will never surrender American sovereignty to an international body, I believe strongly in the need to consult our allies and work with the international institutions that have served us so well for all these years,” etc.

What would be wrong with someone actually saying you know, I used to hold that opinion, but I’ve changed my mind. It would be refreshing

As for this new scandal – I just can’t go all French on you and shrug: eh, monsieur, the heart, she is a complex thing, n’est ce pas? If a friend of mine cheated on his wife and put his family in jeopardy, I’d have a hard time staying his friend. Infidelity ruins lives. But if someone – say, a dour, chamois-fleshed politician with a gloriously wealthy wife – had an understanding with his spouse that he needed 57 varieties throughout the year, well, that’s their deal.

Does that matter in a Senator? A Congressman? A governor? Probably not. Oh, but if he lied to his wife he’ll lie to us! Trust me: many a faithful politician has lied to his constituency without first bedding a chippie to see how this lying stuff worked for him. But it matters in a President, for one reason: I just don’t want a guy who’s thinks a lot about whether his dowsing rod will find a new stream, okay? Yes, yes, as Glenn put it, I have to say that, to me, how Kerry would do on the war is a lot more important than what (er, or who) he's doing in the sack."

True enough. But what I want is focus. Serial philanderers lack focus. (If that’s what he is, and I have no idea.) I want a guy who keeps his jacket on when he’s in the Oval Office, to say nothing of his trousers. I don’t want a guy who gets The Itch now and then, and finds the portion of the day devoted to scratching that itch getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger, until once again we get an intern scandal right about the time we’re supposed to be concentrating on Iranian nuclear tests.

Again: it’s not necessarily the affair that disqualifies someone, it’s the behavior that surrounds it, and the context, and the response. One affair in a friend would bother me greatly. One affair in a politician would bother me less. Many affairs in a politician would bother me more, because old married guys who compulsively sack-hop ain’t right, as Hank Hill would say. So it’s slightly relevant. If true.

But perhaps I’m just reflecting the absorbed holiness I got tonight; went to the Pastor Bud’s house for dinner. I have an unusual bond with this man, which I’ll explain in a moment. He’s a remarkable man full of boundless cheer and wit; his wife is a delight, his daughters are all bright and smart. The point of the evening was welcoming back a friend of his who’d recently crossed the Atlantic on a sailboat, and we all sat in the living room and heard tales of the high sea. Followed by hotdish. Before we left Pastor Bud got out his big baptismal log book – who knew such a thing existed? The names and dates and places of every baptism he’d done. He turned to a page from the start of his career, and there it was: my mother’s name, my father’s name, and the name of the tot he dunked: me. Fargo. 1958. Then he found the page for 2000. My name, my wife’s name, the name of the baby he baptized: Natalie.

Coincidence, of course. Nothing more. What else could that possibly be?

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