Letter to the Editor

Political capital and character

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Gov. Greitens' big problem now is his lack of political capital, meaning he will have a hard time getting things done. His admitted extramarital affair shows he jeopardized the well-being of at least two families, and while that is not an impeachable offense, it's not something that can be easily forgotten either. It will always be there. When he tries to provide leadership, many will have the affair in the back of their minds. Compare his situation with that of ex-president Bill Clinton. Clinton was a very capable and charismatic president, but his ability to get things done dwindled after his philandering behavior became apparent.

Gov. Greitens' background makes me think he will work hard to overcome his mistake. He has demonstrated high energy, forward thinking, and a zeal to make government better. But his past actions empowered his political enemies and undermined his allies. In short, he put his political capital at risk before he was even elected. It may not be fair, but once a behavioral line is crossed, it can't be uncrossed.

He has a dilemma. He's too young to retire. He probably won't resign. Resigning would be too distasteful for an ambitious person like him. He will likely just continue struggling to regain his political capital, but his success will be limited. It's too bad. Politics should be about policy, not character, but sometimes it's hard to separate the two.

Gary L. Gaines, Cape Girardeau