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« I think I'm getting used to Oregon | Main | My criticism the ACLU of Oregon's stance on religious freedom for teachers »

February 19, 2010



Tiger Woods is a public figure whose former ability to generate millions in endorsement deals was due to the existence of a huge fan base. That fan base included people who admired him not only for his golf skills but also because he did in fact hold himself out both as a role model to kids -- if you work hard you, too, can be a winner! (See, e.g., his various charitable works, including the The Tiger Woods Foundation that sells the image of his "[i]ntegrity, honesty, discipline, [and] responsibility" to generate $$$ and inspire kids). He also held himself out as someone who seemed to be "above it all" (a star athlete who wasn't a publicity hound, wild party guy, etc. -- back to someone with a high level of integrity). As a result, you have otherwise fuddy duddy businesses like Accensure having a multi-year campaign that revolved entirely around Tiger Woods, a campaign that some describes as one that tried to tie Wood's perceived level of high integrity and high performance with Accensure's level of integrity and performance. Being a lying, cheating SOB who couldn't honor his marriage vows not once or twice but apparently almost on a daily basis destroyed the trust businesses, donors and kids had in him. He made money (and induced people and businesses to donate lots of money) based in large part on the public's view of his character; he cannot now claim everything is "private business" when it is something of this magnitude.

As to Spitzer's replacement, David Patterson, I think it is also wrong to characterize his infidelity as a purely private matter. Not all star athletes could have made millions on an image that included perceptions of integrity and honor, and most do not; so not all star athletes' acts of infidelity fall into the "public concern" category. However, all politicians owe their positions in huge part to their perceived ability to keep their word. Therefore, I don't think any elected official's infidelity is a purely private matter. Politicians generate votes because they make promises to voters and voters believe in their ability to carry out their promises. Under the circumstances, a politician's inability to keep his word to a single individual who is supposed to be the most important person in his life, the person whom he promised to honor in front of God [as I don't think atheists get elected in this country], transforms from a private matter to a public one. One who puts his character out as an issue critical to gaining voter's vote is not entitled to retrieve his character and hide it as a "private matter" when it is no longer convenient.

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