Sam, don't resign. That's my advice -- and it's been echoed by every progressive friend I've talked with here in Salem over the past few days.
Based on blogospheric news this afternoon, I'm glad to hear that you seemingly are going to stay on as Portland Mayor and not let the Prude Patrol chase you out of office.
There's lots of ways to look at your involvement with a 17-18 year old gay guy, and your subsequent efforts (a.k.a. "lying") to cover up the sexual nature of this relationship.
Here's how things look from my vantage point fifty miles or so south of scandal central.
Portland, realize how fortunate you are. The left-leaning citizens of Salem would be overjoyed to have a sex-crazed 42-year old gay mayor named Sam Adams.
They're stuck with Janet Taylor, who would never be caught doing anything illicit, and also will never be caught leading her town in an intelligent, creative, dynamic, Green manner (I say "they" because we live five miles outside of the city limits).
It'd be crazy if Portland cut loose a competent mayor like Sam Adams just because he tried to keep his on-the-edge-of-propriety sex life private. And, admittedly, out of the campaign for mayor spotlight.
Politicians are entitled to lie for good reasons. Based on opinion pieces like this one, the Resign Sam! feeding frenzy mainly seems to be founded on Adams not telling the truth when he was asked, prior to election day, about his relationship with the marvelously named Beau Breedlove (if Beau goes into gay porn, he won't have to take on a nom de plume).
I keep hearing, "This isn't about sex. It's about Sam Adams not telling the truth." Also, "If Adams hadn't lied to voters, he wouldn't have been elected."
OK, let's ponder the implications of those statements.
They're contradictory, which led Adams into a double-bind situation that justified his dissembling. If this isn't about sex, but rather lying, like so many people claim, then if Adams had told the truth about bedding an 18 year old it shouldn't have had much effect on his campaign for mayor.
Yet the same people also say that if Adams had told the truth, Portlanders would have been repulsed by a middle-aged man having (legal) sex with a teenager and many wouldn't have voted for him.
This shows that it really was about sex, which Adams -- savvy politician that he is -- realized. So he lied about his relationship with Breedlove, knowing that judgmental, prudish voters would punish him at the ballot box.
Imperfection is an asset, not a liability. Sure, in an ideal world politicians would always tell the truth. And citizens would always cast their vote for good reasons unrelated to a candidate's sexual predilections.
But this isn't an ideal world.
Those who want it to be so aren't in tune with reality. They're adrift either in a fundamentalist religion fantasy realm, where everybody obeys a moral code issued by God ("Thou shalt not lie"), or a secular utopia that's equally unrealistic.
People are complex creatures.
Especially talented, high-strung, intelligent, creative men like Sam Adams -- plus Bill Clinton, Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards, Gary Hart, and any number of other middle-aged males whose passion for life (and politics) spilled over into a passion for out of wedlock or barely-legal sex.
Europeans understand much better than we do that an elected official's policies are the important thing, not with whom he takes his pants off. A British commentator wrote:
Britain is sliding towards an American style of politics, where we obsess about the "character" of our politicians rather than their policies. This is new. Just 40 years ago, we had a Prime Minister - Harold Macmillan - who famously said: "If you want personal morality, talk to a bishop, not a politician". Few British people disagreed. (It's probably just as well: Lord Boothby was having an affair in the Downing Street flat with Macmillan's wife, Dorothy, and also sharing young boys with Ronnie Kray).
...Of course, character and personality matter to some limited extent - but only insofar as they shape policy. Margaret Thatcher's stubbornness, for example, matters because it made her incapable of reversing catastrophic policies such as the poll tax. But to suggest that David Blunkett is more likely to lie because he has slept with a married woman is to disregard even the most basic history. Does Franklin Roosevelt's adultery undermine the New Deal? Does Adolf Hitler's fidelity to Eva Braun tell us much?
Politicians who can't be imagined doing anything other than sticking to the "straight and narrow" (I'm thinking George Bush) likely are going to be similarly unnaturally rigid with their policies.
I'd much rather have my president, or mayor, be wild and crazy in the bedroom and passionately intelligently creative in the policy arena.
I'll end with a bit of philosophy from Alan Watts that supports my Stay On Sam moral position:
The real goodness of human nature is its peculiar balance of love and selfishness, reason and passion, spirituality and sensuality, mysticism and materialism, in which the positive pole has always a slight edge over the negative.
(Were it otherwise, and the two were equally balanced, life would come to a total stalemate and standstill.)
Thus when the two poles, good and bad, forget their interdependence and try to obliterate each other, man becomes subhuman -- the implacable crusader or the cold sadistic thug.
It is not for man to be either an angel or a devil, and the would-be angels should realize that, as their ambition succeeds, they evoke hordes of devils to keep the balance.
This was the lesson of Prohibition, as of all other attempts to enforce purely angelic behavior, or to pluck out evil root and branch.