07/23/2013 07:00 pm ET Updated Sep 22, 2013

Why Weiner and Spitzer Can Win

The media is abuzz over the strong showings of Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer in the polls. It seems more probable than possible that come November Weiner will be the next New York City mayor, and Spitzer will be the comptroller.

That would be but a couple of years removed from sex scandals that forced both men from office in disgrace. Weiner gave up his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives after admitting to sending ladies unsolicited photos of his private parts. Spitzer resigned as governor of New York after disclosure that he was "client number nine" in a prostitution ring.

So how is it the voters are so ready, so soon, to put these men back on public payrolls?

One important reason is that they are both hard workers who were reasonably effective when last they held elective office. But there's something else, equally important, that factors into their surprising comebacks.

The electorate acknowledges and accepts as fact that politicians are merely a microcosm of the general population. There is little that is saintly about either group. Politicians are like the rest of us -- no better, no worse. Full of the attributes -- and failings -- of human nature. And subject to moral lapses.

Probable performance seems to weigh more heavily with voters than personal indiscretions.

That is why adulterous former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford won the recent special election that sent him to Congress. And that is why former President Bill Clinton has emerged from a scandal-stained second term to become, arguably, the most popular and influential politician in recent memory.

Another former President, Jimmy Carter, whose term in office was free of personal scandal, had some interesting words on the subject more than 30 years ago. He said, "I've looked on many women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart. God knows I will do this and forgives me".

The electorate also knows -- and forgives. That's why Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer can win in November.