Misbehaving politicians want to have their cake and eat it, too.
American voters have shown they are remarkably forgiving, so forgiving that elected officials can't resist pushing the boundaries of what the public will overlook.
It was only a couple of months ago that former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who won nationwide headlines for his extra-marital romance with an Argentine woman to whom he is now engaged, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Prior to his surprising comeback, it was thought that Sanford's public life was over.
Perhaps Sanford's resurrection gave hope to two other disgraced politicians, former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York and former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
Spitzer reluctantly resigned as governor after he was identified as a patron of a prostitution service that had come under police investigation.
Weiner tearfully resigned from the U.S. House after he was caught Tweeting racy pictures of himself and suggestive messages to women who signed up for his Twitter account.
Now Weiner is running for mayor of New York City while Spitzer has announced he wants to be elected the city's comptroller.
What is it about these three and others like them who do not conduct themselves properly in public life but can't remain on the sidelines after sabotaging their own careers?
Obviously, there's an intense desire to see themselves and be seen by others as political powerbrokers, a motivation that requires an incredible ego. There's also a sense that the rules don't apply to them, no matter what the circumstance.
Most people realize that our public officials are not saints, that they are subject to the same temptations and weaknesses as everyone else. That some make terrible mistakes is not as surprising as their unwillingness to accept the consequences of their mistakes.
Ultimately, of course, it's the voters' choice whether to give these transgressors another chance. But these candidates are doing the public no favor by returning to public life and turning their campaigns into a question of forgiveness and redemption.
The body politic can survive quite well without them and their questionable judgment.