Top 10 Disappointing Cases of Public Adultery

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While adultery is never good or acceptable, it’s somehow even worse when somebody in the public eye does it. It exposes so-called role models for the shams they truly are, can damage or destroy careers and, in some extreme cases, topple whole governments. There is no way, in any of these instances, that the benefits would have outweighed the inevitable consequences.

10. Newt Gingrich’s Affairs With Marianne Ginther And Callista Bisek

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As a history major who went on to be Speaker of the House and Time’s “Man of the Year,” Gingrich is someone you’d want to admire and look up to. Yet, all three of his marriages occurred under suspect circumstances, that make it hard to regard him as a truly moral man. His first marriage was to a former high school teacher of his, which is a major no-no in and of itself. Something clicked though, as the marriage lasted from 1962 to 1981.

He then began a relationship with Marianne Ginther, which he continued despite his actual wife undergoing hospitalization and surgery for cancer. Gingrich married Ginther in 1981, but started yet another affair with one of his staffers, Callista Bisek, in 1993. She is 23 years his junior. He eventually divorced his second wife, and married this new mistress. For someone aspiring to lead the country as a potential future President, one just hopes for more in the moral realm, though we’re doubtful to ever get it.

9. Kristen Stewart’s “Momentary Indiscretion” With Rupert Sanders

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Kristen Stewart and boyfriend Robert Pattinson have had a romantic relationship that started in the Twilight films, and blossomed into a real-life thing. As such, it was a tremendous disappoint to learn that Stewart was photographed having an apparent affair with Rupert Sanders, the director of Snow White And The Huntsman, another Stewart vehicle. The public embarrassment resulted in widespread shock and near-grief from both Stewart and Pattinson’s fanbase. Pattinson appeared on The Daily Show, where host Jon Stewart offered Pattinson ice cream to help get over the break up. The pair have since reconciled, perhaps over some more ice cream, but just how badly the reputation of this once-bright star has been damaged remains unclear.

8. Mark Sanford’s Affair With Maria Chapur

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Former South Carolina Governor Sanford was not the most famous politician around, prior to the infamous incident that led to his divorce from Jenny Sanford in 2010. The nature of his actions, with regards to his affair, was especially unbecoming of a governor. Sanford essentially disappeared for six days in 2009, when he went to Argentina to visit his mistress. Someone who is the highest-ranked executive official of a state obviously cannot just disappear, especially for that reason. Neither his wife, nor spokesman, seemed to know (or admit to knowing) where he was while the media grew increasingly concerned. In the aftermath, politicians called for impeachment proceedings against the governor, who has since become engaged to his mistress.

7. John Edwards’s Affair With Rielle Hunter

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After John Edwards lost his run for Vice President in 2004, he sought the Democratic nomination for President in 2008. In the time between these runs however, the married politician started up a relationship with then-divorced Rielle Hunter. A child, Frances, was born in 2008 as a result of this affair. The fallout of this reveal, aside from destroying Edwards’s political aspirations, could have been even worse had he actually campaigned well and been nominated.

What made this particular incident all the more despicable in the public eye was that Edwards’s wife, Elizabeth, was suffering from cancer (she passed away in 2010.) The public humiliation of a dying wife villainized the once popular politician, and destroyed any hopes he had of ever holding a public service position again.

6. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s affair with Mildred Baena

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Arnold Schwarzenegger is an icon of both bodybuilding and acting. When he became Governor, he added the role of political hero to his many admirable accomplishments. Yet, despite doing so much good for people, his affair with a Guatemalan woman working in his household, that resulted in an illegitimate birth, has greatly diminished his star. Not only was it tragic to watch a marriage of 25 years collapse, it is all the more disheartening for his four legitimately-born children to have to go through a public separation of their parents.

5. Prince Charles And Camilla

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Long before Camilla became Duchess of Cornwall, she had an affair with the man still married to Diana, the incredibly popular Princess of Wales.  Charles and Diana’s wedding was like something out of a fairy tale book, and Charles all but threw that in the trash to be with Camilla, whom he had been in a relationship with years back, prior to meeting and marrying Diana. You have to assume that, when it becomes Charles’ time to be King, he’s going to have an incredibly uphill battle, as far as winning the approval of the country he would technically be running. As a veritable celebrity, with wealth beyond most of our comprehensions, one wishes he could have at least shown himself above such an embarrassing moral failing.

4. Bill Clinton And Monica Lewinsky

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This particular affair had far-reaching political consequences for one of the most powerful countries on Earth. The whole situation was a tremendous embarrassment for then-President Clinton. The details concerning a certain stain on Monica’s blue dress, Bill Clinton’s creative use of cigars for something other than smoking, and a bevy of other disgraces, humiliated not just the President, but the country. Clinton was suspected of perjury for denying the details and extent of the relationship, and became only the second President to be impeached. As a cost of millions of dollars, Clinton was investigated and tried. Although he was ultimately acquitted of the charges, the whole scandal tarnished his reputation, and possibly had adverse effects for his Vice-President Al Gore’s failed Presidential run in 2000.

3. Helen Of Sparta’s Affair With Paris

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This affair has been with Western Civilization for nearly three thousand years. It started one of the most well-known, and frequently depicted, wars in human history: The Trojan War. According to ancient Greek sources, in about 1194 BC, a Trojan prince named Paris sought after Helen, wife of Sparta’s King Menelaus. Paris either seduced a willing Helen, or raped and kidnapped a reluctant Helen, taking her from Sparta to Troy, where she became known as Helen of Troy.

Not surprisingly, Menelaus was quite upset, and convinced his brother Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, to unite the Greeks in a massive undertaking to reclaim Helen. Troy held out for ten years, until the wily Greeks used the famous Trojan Horse to sneak into the walled city and exact their revenge. Things did not end well for anybody involved. Paris was defeated in a fight with Menelaus. Agamemnon was possibly murdered by his own wife. Helen was returned to Sparta. Not to mention the unknown number of Greeks and Trojans who perished in a war lasting ten years. All because one guy wanted some tail. Any affair that causes a ten-year long conflict, with so much related death and destruction, is not exactly something to feel good about.

2. Josephine Bonaparte’s Affair With Hippolyte Charles, and Napoleon’s Affairs With Just About Everybody

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The future Empress’s affair caused a major rift between two of history’s most intriguing people, and directly inspired Napoleon to commit his own acts of adultery in kind. Her actions took what was one of the most beautiful romances in history, and set it on a much less admirable path.

Yet, for as bad as Josephine affair was, Napoleon had multiple affairs of his own. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and multiple wrongs make even less of a right. Napoleon’s first affair was with the wife of a fellow officer while in Egypt. This woman (Pauline) became known as Napoleon’s “Cleopatra.” Other affairs birthed at least two illegitimate children, and possibly a third. Also, at least two of the women involved were married to other men, to make this whole ordeal even more wrong.

Napoleon is still an immensely fascinating person, whose relevance is still felt today, but it certainly detracts from his “greatness” knowing that he responded to his wife cheating on him with one man, by cheating on his wife with many women.

1. Julius Caesar’s Affairs With Servilia Caepionis And Cleopatra

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Caesar’s affairs earn the top spot because of their historical consequences. Not only do they diminish his character as someone worth admiring (you expect more out of a man deified as a God after his death,) they also played a serious role in destabilizing the Roman Republic. In the first case, Servilia was the mother of one of Caesar’s assassins, Brutus, and mother-in-law of another, Cassius. It is uncertain exactly how much of a role this affair had in the assassination plot, though it is hard to imagine it didn’t cross their minds at some point.

As for Cleopatra, her relationship with Caesar was particularly scandalous to Romans, not just because he bore him an illegitimate child (Caesarion,) but because it was a Roman cheating on his wife with a non-Roman. Has Caesar lived on, you have to wonder if his citizens would have risen up and demanded accountability from a man they once considered infallible.

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By Dr. Matthew D. Zarzeczny, who has also written Banned From The Internet.


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16 Comments

  1. Am i the only person who dreads the day Prince Charles becomes King? We moan about North Korea and Kim Jong Un`s craziness, but Prince Charles really is crazy. “My duty is to save the world.” Not exactly a sane man..

  2. impeached for having an affair.. For God`s sake. It just proved that Bill is like every other normal bloke. That Dragon wife of his had him sleeping on the couch just for a bit of fun. John “Two-Shags,” Prescott had an affair and nobody gave a toss..

  3. No Tiger Woods? Although I’m not sure how you would title it. “Tiger Woods’ Affairs With Lots and Lots of Skanks” perhaps…

  4. The Kristin Stewart one had me laughing. I also loved the title for Napoleon …. “Just about everybody”. I never knew that Josephine had an affair with Hippolyte Charles. However, it is still interesting to me that after all the women that passed through Napoleon’s life, his last words was still Josephine’s name.

  5. Ryan Winchell on

    I was not aware that Arnold Schwarzenegger had such an affair resulting in an illegitimate birth. Not what I expected from a former Mr. Olympia bodybuilder, actor, and Governor.

    – Ryan W.

  6. I disagree about some of these. I don’t think what Mark Sanford or what Newt Gingrich was that bad because he eventually married the person he had an affair with and by all indications his present marraige was falling apart. Sure, he could have had a divorce and waited but I don’t see that as indiscretion

    • Dr. Matthew D. Zarzeczny, FINS on

      Sanford was a governor who for all intents and purposes just disappeared to South America to have his affair. In the meantime people were mislead into believing he was elsewhere. He did not only deceive his wife, but the people of his state. Imagine if his state had undergone some kind of emergency while their governor was off on some fling. It is unacceptable for someone who is in charge of a state to betray the public trust in such a manner that could have had serious repercussions should his state had experienced some kind of crisis in the meantime. Heck, even for non-governors, we cannot just up an disappear from our job responsibilities while providing our employers with either no reason or as in his case a false reason. What makes Sanford’s case bad is not merely that he cheated on his wife, which is never acceptable anyway regardless of whatever excuse someone wants to make, but that his actions also represented a failure to accurately report his whereabouts to the people he governed.

      • I don’t think that has to do with what I’m talking about. In any case, I’ll vote for him if he runs for an election that I’m eligible to vote for and you’ll vote against him, because that doesn’t violate my values. Him cheating on his wife is acceptable to me as a voter. It’s not acceptable to me as his 1st wife, but that’s none of my business. That’s democracy.

        • Dr. Matthew D. Zarzeczny, FINS on

          Well, I do agree that I would vote against him. I could never vote for an adulterer, because I could not support someone who is able to betray his or her own family. After seeing so many people from friends to students have their lives disrupted by adultery, it is one of those things that absolutely disgusts me. If someone can betray his or her family, I could not expect such a person to not betray anyone else. Not to mention if someone is so incapable of controlling his or herself from doing something that has the potential to, among other things, risk catching some disease and potentially spreading it to a spouse, it just strikes me as a sign of incredible personal weakness. I do think that politicians are people that we should be able to look up to, because they are in effect leaders. As leaders, they need to command some degree of respect. I realize people are not perfect, but there are little goofs most everyone makes that do no real harm and then there is disappearing for several days while committing adultery. Generally speaking, I hold people to my own standards. I cannot fault anyone for anything I have done, but I figure if I have never cheated on a girlfriend, if I have never been arrested, if I have never taken illegal narcotics, etc. (and I have indeed never cheated on a girlfriend, never been arrested, and never took any illegal narcotics), I just cannot look up to anyone who has done these kinds of things as a moral and responsible “leader”. As such, Sanford comes off as dishonest to his constituents for disappearing for days and treacherous to his family for betraying his wife. Such a person just does not seem like the kind of man anyone could really regard as a worthy leader. He has already shown that it is wholly within his behavior to just up and leave for South America while making others think he is much closer to home. Given that we live in a world where man made and natural disasters occur, there is just no way I could be comfortable with such a person running a state. Anyway, have a nice night!

  7. Amanda Thorpe on

    Okay, your comment just took the words right out of my mouth. I believe in honesty, loyalty, and faithfulness. Breaking them is an end game for me. While the issue of adultery is ultimately between a husband and wife, the act of such says loads about their character. Why in the world would I want to knowingly elect and/or support someone with such corrupt moral values? If it is easy to deceive someone you are close to and love, then the deceit of a nation means nothing at all.

  8. Rebekah Thomas on

    The Kristen Stewart one made me laugh, it’s funny how celebrities use adultery to gain press or popularity. I believe that’s honestly what it came down to, I don’t think Pattison or Stewart were ever in a romantic relationship. Also, it is sad about Edwards, and the Gingrich having affairs while their wives were being treated for cancer.

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