From the early minutes of the hourlong forum sponsored by all news cable channel NY1, former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer found himself repeatedly on the defensive about his unconventional private life and its impact on his tenure as mayor from 1996 to 2004.
While married to another woman, Spencer fathered two children with his then-chief of staff and substantially raised her salary. He eventually divorced his first wife and married his chief of staff.
So with an opening question from debate moderator Dominic Carter about whether a candidate's personal life should be off-limits, the responses got very personal, very fast.
Kathleen Troia "KT" McFarland, a former Ronald Reagan era Pentagon official, immediately accused Spencer of engaging in adultery and nepotism and said it spoke to his lack of credibility to serve in office.
"That's something that, in 1998, the Republican Party impeached President Clinton for exactly the same behavior," McFarland said to gasps from the audience. "If you'd been in the military, you would have been court-martialed. If you worked in the federal government, you would have been subject to indictment."
Wow. And Do I mean Wow. Apparently it even got worse.
So much time was spent discussing Spencer's private life that Carter finally turned the tables, asking McFarland whether disclosures about her own messy past — she accused her father in 1992 of sexually abusing her as a child — were relevant to her fitness to serve.
"That was 50 years ago. I've addressed it. I have nothing further to add," McFarland said.
This is amazing to me. I've seen politicians for years concede with grace, and very rarely conduct debates like this get so nasty so quick.
So what does it mean? I guess if you start screaming at your opponent you don't have to answer questions about actual issues because the scandalous nature supercedes the actual race.
Sen. Clinton has been through this herself when her husband was president after the Monica Lewinsky thing although she never actually participated and it was directed to her. But of course Hillary is key in the Lieberman case as well. She has done a lot of the same things that Joe Lieberman has done, but has not suffered the fallout that he has.
Why is that?
Talk Amongst Yourselves.
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