When the Powerful Abuse the Powerless

  • Photograph by Peter Hapak for TIME

    Everywhere you look, there are betrayals of trust. Dominique Strauss-Kahn betrayed the nations that make up the International Monetary Fund with his behavior. Arnold Schwarzenegger betrayed not only his family but also the voters of California, who would surely not have elected him if they had known the full details of his private life. We expect people in power not to abuse it by taking advantage of the powerless, which is at the heart of the accusations against DSK. Schwarzenegger had the power to conceal his behavior from the voters and did so--which itself is an abuse. The French protest that even powerful men are entitled to a private life. But the reality is that the line between private and public behavior for public servants does not really exist, and pretending that it does is no longer useful. Public servants are held to a higher standard not just because they live in a fishbowl but also because it's a privilege to serve. Read Nancy Gibbs' powerful cover story to explore how power seems to erode the social restraints on certain men, individuals in whom we've placed our trust.

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    Richard Stengel, MANAGING EDITOR