A more important question is not why powerful men have affairs, but why don't powerful women?
Well, there are three explanations for this.
- More men have power than women, and that means that only the top of the top women get power. There are fewer women in politics and we get better women because of that.
- The standards of attractiveness differ. Women are judged on their beauty, men are judged by their power. That is, if you are a powerful man, you are the equivalent of a 10. Powerful women don't get that same boost in attractiveness. In fact, women's standard of beauty focuses more on youth. Which means they are at the most attractive before they become powerful, not after. Powerful men on the other hand have become more attractive than they have ever been before. In effect, the men are in their 'prime' attractive years, while the woman aren't. So the men have a much easier time finding a partner to cheat with.
- Explanation 2? Men know it. That's half the reason why they get power (and part but not all of the reason why more men seek power). Just as some men become rock stars to get women, others go into politics. Women know that power doesn't make them more attractive, so women seeking mates don't seek power.
What are these flaws? Well, they'll probably be small flaws. Why? Because the flaw in men, infidelity, is itself a small flaw - at least when it comes to politics.
Large political flaws are things like stupidity, stubbornness, refusing to compromise, poor communication skills, and being out of touch with the electorate.
Infidelity represents either changing ones mind or a desire for pleasure, combined with a desire to maintain a particular image. Those are not bad things in politics. They are bad for the marriage, but not in politics. That doesn't mean I approve of infidelity, just that it's not such a big deal with when it comes to politics. There are far worse.
The press however tend to focus on it, because no one claims it's easily seen as a flaw, it's salacious, and in general makes for good press. People like to read about sex, especially the details. For some reason, budgetary details don't inspire the same press coverage.
As such, it is not surprising that we don't see a lot of female flaws the way we see infidelity scandals.
Infidelity used to be far more accepted. We all know about the affairs John F Kennedy had and the fact that never made it into the press. Why? Because neither the press nor the Republicans thought it was worth mentioning.
Now a days we have become slightly more puritanical, but Clinton proved an affair does not kill a presidency. It might kill a marriage, but not a presidency.
Some politicians are corrupt. The worst sell their votes to the highest bidder. Up until recently they legally traded on insider information they got as a function of their job. They avoid paying taxes. But even excluding those crimes, most politicians do rather despicable things to ensure they get elected. Gerrymandering is legal. Not to mention the smear tactics of attack ads.
Having an affair is not good, but when it comes to politics, it is closer to getting caught speeding than getting caught with 100 kilos of cocaine.