But dwelling on minor allegations of wrongdoing in the far-off past seems unlikely to bring down an incumbent president. Suppose you're an employer and you hear that one of your employees, who's been working for you for about four years, once had a drinking problem and in fact pleaded guilty nearly 30 years ago to a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence. You actually heard about all this when you initially hired him, and it did give you second thoughts, but in the end you decided to give him a chance. In the four years he's been working for you, you've seen no sign that he's fallen off the wagon. Is there any cause here to fire him? Even if the revelation about his past were new, wouldn't it have to be pretty severe to constitute grounds for termination?
Now say someone comes to you looking for a job. Right off the bat, you notice something strange about his résumé: It goes on for page after page about a job he held for four months, more than 35 years ago, but makes only the barest mention of anything he's done since. You have him in for an interview, and he can't give you a straight answer to any question about what he plans to do in the job if you hire him. Instead (to borrow a description from Joe Conason), he sounds like a bar-stool bore, with a bad habit of repeating the same lame boasts about that long-ago four-month stint again and again.
Still, you decide to check out his references. (John Edwards: "If you have any question about what John Kerry is made of, just spend three minutes with the men who served with him.") Some sing his praises quite extravagantly, but a greater number describe him harshly as a man of dubious character, and some accuse him of lying on his résumé. He acknowledges a few embellishments but refuses to provide you with documents that would shed light on the other accusations.
Would you hire this man? And would you fire an employee of four years' standing in order to create an opening for him?
OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today has a great post explaining why American votes won't fire George Bush over past minor wrongdoings and hire an unqualified John Kerry: