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Are we still Puritans?

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By
From page A8 | November 19, 2012 | 10 Comments

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, it is time to talk about Puritans – but not the crew who fled England for the New World and established the Massachusetts Bay Colony back in the 17th century. No, let’s talk about the modern Puritans: we the American people.

The United States is considered a puritanical society by many Western nations. For example, they can’t believe we hassle public servants like Gen. David Petraeus because he had a mistress. In France, if a powerful man doesn’t have a mistress, he’s considered a wimp. In Italy, they elected Silvio Berlusconi, who allegedly puts together old-fashioned Roman-type orgies and brags about it.

You may remember the outcry in Western Europe over the impeachment of President Clinton. They couldn’t believe it over there. Lying about sex? In some countries, that’s the national pastime.

So the question is this: Are we Americans basically puritanical? Throwbacks to the days when Cotton Mather was hunting witches in Salem?

The answer, surprisingly, is yes to some degree. While it’s true that secular forces are whittling away traditional standards of behavior, we Americans still expect some decorum from our elected officials.

If you’re a rock or film star or play professional sports, we expect you to cat around and do self-destructive things. But if we count on you to protect us, like Petraeus did, we want your full attention. Part of the outcry over Clinton’s behavior was that it took place in the Oval Office, right beneath portraits of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Turning the most powerful room in the world into a Motel 6 is not acceptable to most Americans.

The truth is that many powerful guys have fooled around while working for the people: Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Warren Harding to name just a few. Grover Cleveland even fathered a child outside of marriage. We all know these things happen. But we don’t want them to happen, or at least most of us don’t. I can’t speak for San Francisco.

That may be because American tradition is based on Judeo-Christian philosophy, and that tradition has served us well. Honesty and loyalty are still esteemed values in most parts of this country. When the defenders of Bill Clinton wailed that it was “just about sex,” they were wrong. In cases where powerful people get caught in compromising situations, there is always more to it than a physical act.

I am deeply saddened that Petraeus is no longer protecting this nation. He is a patriot and a brilliant warrior in the cause of freedom. Frankly, I don’t care what the general does on his personal time. It is a shame he had to resign.

We are all sinners, but here’s what comes along with that: You always pay for the sin. Unfortunately, all of us would suffer along with the general, and that is why he had to go. If the folks trust you, don’t burn them.

Bill O’Reilly is host of the Fox News Show, “The O’Reilly Factor” and author of the book “Pinheads and Patriots: Where You Stand in the Age of Obama.”

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Discussion | 10 comments

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  • The SugarJarNovember 17, 2012 - 2:23 pm

    Isn't Mr. O'Reilly the guy who was with his own wife's sister? Is it the other Americans who are the prudes or is he including himself? Seems an extra odd column to me.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mike kirchubelNovember 19, 2012 - 6:27 am

    Is that the same gal that he paid a million dollars to stop her lawsuit? Maybe he considers himself to be an athelete.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Danny BuntinNovember 19, 2012 - 8:21 am

    I believe it was in the high seven figures Mike. Maybe if we are lucky, he will bring on Dick Morris tonight to expand on the Puritans ideals to the folks.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mr. PracticalNovember 19, 2012 - 5:19 pm

    None of that makes him wrong.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Danny BuntinNovember 19, 2012 - 7:12 pm

    @Mr. P: The opinion of Mr O, is nothing but a opinion. We can take it or leave it. I would say there was no "outcry" in Europe. To say they where confused about the outcry in the US, would be more like it. It is comical to me to talk about the presence of a painting(GW)where the deed was done, that might of put some people over the top in there rage. We all live imperfect lives, and should act accordingly when someone else "strays" from perfection. It is just a long line of topics Bill likes to bring up, to re-enforce the "decadence of this one time great nation" mantra - to the folks. At least that is how I see it, I could be wrong.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rich GiddensNovember 19, 2012 - 2:40 pm

    Petraeus had time for mistresses and philandering but didnt have time to win the war--something we paid him to do. No, Patraeus is not the hero the fawning news media and politicians claim he is. Petraeus is a politician general who doesnt even have a combat infantryman's badge or a purple heart / bronze star.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Danny BuntinNovember 19, 2012 - 7:42 pm

    Some people just handle "FAME" better then others. Who wouldn't like people fawning all over them, at least for a while?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Danny BuntinNovember 19, 2012 - 7:55 pm

    Also Rich, that war is not winnable Rich. To D R web hosting/Admins: The site is slow slow slow slow. I click, and wait for something to happen most of the time. I am fairly sure it is not on my end.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mr. PracticalNovember 19, 2012 - 8:03 pm

    I'm having the same issue.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • RichNovember 19, 2012 - 9:04 pm

    You have an excuse for every national or State / Local failure Danny. Thats not how things are supposed to work. You excuse, trivialize and falsely rationalize the failure of the government to expeditiously win the war with all deliberate speed. We have lost the war. Our leaders are liars and self absorbed scoundrels and you make great excuses for them. You deserve Obama and rat party leadership.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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