I don't know if you've been following the soap opera currently embroiling Portland politics--starring the city's newly elected mayor, Sam Adams (his real name), and the teenage intern with whom he had an affair, Beau Breedlove (also his real name)--but if you're not, you should be. Timothy Egan delivers a nice plot summary if you want to catch up on the details.
The most interesting counterfactual here is whether Adams would have saved himself--and his city--all this misery if he'd simply fessed up to the affair when rumors of it first surfaced. Granted, those rumors first surfaced when Adams was running for mayor. If it's difficult for a gay man to get elected mayor of a major American city, imagine how difficult it would be for a gay man who's admitted having an affair with a teenage intern. Then again, this is Portland. I have a hunch that, handled properly, Adams's disclosure of the affair during the campaign wouldn't have been the political suicide it might have been somewhere else.
But, of course, Adams didn't come clean, and now he--and Portland--are suffering the fallout from his deceptions. It's a pity.
P.S. Special mention here goes to the Willamette Week, the Portland alternative newspaper, that broke the Adams scandal (and which won a Pulitzer a few years back for uncovering another sex scandal involving a former Portland mayor). At a time when alternative papers are being put out of business by Craig's List, it's worth remembering the valuable work some of them do.