BLOOMSBURG, Pa. -- Some columns are easier to write than others.
This is one of them.
Providing all of my research were the "family values"
This week, second term Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina
disappeared for six days, leaving the state without a chief executive
who could make decisions in an emergency. His Republican lieutenant
governor didn't know where he was, and had not been given any authority
to make decisions in his absence. The state police said they had not
been informed. His wife told the Associated Press she didn't know where
he was, wasn't worried about him, and thought he was "writing something
and wanted some space to get away from the kids" over the Father's Day
weekend. His senior aides said he was walking along the Appalachian
Trail to "clear his head."
But it wasn't his head that he was clearing. When he
returned, after first lying to a reporter for the Columbia State who
caught up with him on his return to the Atlanta airport, he finally
admitted he went to Argentina to meet with a long-time lover. His wife,
who was not by his side when he held an early afternoon press
conference, later said she and the governor had separated two weeks
earlier. The State later produced e-mail love letters it had been
keeping since December.
The rising young star of the Republican party who was seen
as a presidential contender in 2012, the man who was head of the
Republican Governors Association until the day after he acknowledged his extramarital affair, the man who had wanted to deprive his state of $700 million in federal stimulus funds as a political message to President Obama, the man who had established himself as a beacon for the sanctity of marriage and the values of the oh-so-pure Religious right, who a decade earlier as a congressman had strongly condemned Bill Clinton's extramarital affair, was not only an adulterer, but for at least the second time had left his state at risk since there were no contingency plans of how to reach him in an emergency.
Alas, Gov. Sanford isn't the only "family values"
philanderer. Slightly more than a week earlier, Sen. John Ensign
(R-Nev.) admitted he had a nine-month extramarital affair with one of
his campaign staff. Ensign, who was contemplating a run for president in 2012, had been chair of the Republican Policy Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Like Gov. Sanford, Sen. Ensign only admitted to the affair after information had been leaked to the media.
This is the same John Ensign who, as a congressman, had
curled his lips in revulsion at Bill Clinton's affair, and demanded he
either resign or be impeached. "He has no credibility," Ensign told the
Las Vegas Review-Journal in 1998. Six years later, now a senator, Ensign supported a federal ban on same sex marriages by declaring, "Marriage is the cornerstone on which our society was founded. ... [M]arriage, and the sanctity of that institution, predates the American Constitution and the founding of our nation." Ironically, Ensign is active in Promise Keepers, an evangelical group.
Also vigorously calling for President Clinton's impeachment, while having had their own extramarital affairs and covering them up or lying about them, were:
Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), chair of the House judiciary
committee and the "house manager" for the impeachment, who lied about
his own four-year affair with a married woman and then when a newspaper
published details in 1998 called the affair in the 40s nothing more than a "youthful indiscretion." He retired in 2007 after 17 terms in the House.
Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.), who was the first legislator in
Congress to call for Clinton's resignation and then became one of the
leaders of the impeachment movement. Barr's background, however, wasn't
family values pure. He never denied committing adultery with his second
wife, and later, while married to his third wife, was photographed at
what passed as a charity event licking whipped cream off the breasts of
two women. Barr left office in 2003, after four terms.
Rep. Helen Chenoweth (R-Idaho), who was one of the first
to call for Clinton's resignation, told the Spokane Spokesman-Review
that God had pardoned her sins for her six-year extra-marital affair.
Chenoweth left office in January 2001 after keeping her promise not to
serve more than three terms.
Fourteen-term Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind), chair of the House
Government Reform and Oversight Committee, who not only had a long-time
affair with a state employee but had fathered a son from that affair.
His website once screamed, "Above all, Dan Burton believes the people
have a right to principled leadership and that character does matter."
Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), who told Tim Russert on
NBC-TV's "Meet the Press" in 1999 that "The American people already know that Bill Clinton is a bad boy - a naughty boy. I'm going to speak out for the citizens of my state, who in the majority think that Bill
Clinton is probably even a nasty, bad, naughty boy." However, Craig
himself was a "bad boy." In September 2007 he pleaded guilty, and then
tried to withdraw his conviction on charges that he solicited a man in
the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. Several gay men later told the Idaho
Statesman that Craig, who was married since 1983, had previously tried
to solicit them or had sexual relations with them. Craig resigned in
September 2007, and then reversed himself, staying in office through
2008. He did not run for re-election.
Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), House speaker from 1995 to
1999, who may have had an affair while his first wife was in the
hospital recovering from cancer. Gingrich later cheated on his second
wife with the woman who became his third wife during the time he was
pushing for Clinton's resignation.
Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.), who was Gingrich's designated
successor until he admitted his own infidelities and eventually resigned from the House.
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who was elected to Livingston's
House seat and served three terms before being identified in a
prostitution scandal in Louisiana. In 2004, he was elected to the
Senate, three years before Hustler magazine linked him as a client of a
prostitution service in Washington, D.C.
Rep. Don Sherwood (R-Pa), who had a five year affair with
a woman 35 years his junior. She later charged that Sherwood had
assaulted her several times. He eventually settled for what AP reported
was about $500,000. Among those who supported Sherwood during his
primary re-election were Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), one of the leaders
of the conservative coalition who in November 2005 said that
"Compassionate Conservatism relies on healthy families," and President
George W. Bush who went to northeastern Pennsylvania to help raise funds for Sherwood. However, in the general election of November 2006,
Sherwood was defeated for a fifth term.
Rep. Vito Fossella Jr. (R-N.Y.), who, as a first term
congressman with a 100 percent voting approval record from the Christian Coalition, was morally outraged at Bill Clinton's personal conduct. A decade later, he was arrested for drunken driving in May 2008. Upon intense media scrutiny, he also admitted that while still married he had fathered a girl, now four years old, with an Air Force congressional liaison officer who was the woman who came to his assistance the night of his DUI arrest. After six terms, Fossella chose not to run for a seventh term.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who had delivered a passionate
plea to the Senate on why he planned to vote to convict President
Clinton, citing legal issues. However, McCain had previously
acknowledged his own several extramarital affairs in the 1970s, and had
accepted the blame for the deterioration of his first marriage and
estrangement from his children.
Add to the list of morally bankrupt Republicans:
Five-term Sen. Bob Packwood (R-Ore.) who resigned in
September 1995, three years before the Clinton impeachment, after the
bipartisan Ethics Committee unanimously recommended his expulsion
following charges of sexual abuse and assault by 10 women, most of them
either former staffers or lobbyists.
Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.), a six-term congressman, and
co-chair of the Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus, who had sent
sexually explicit e-mails and text messages to a 16 year-old male
Congressional page. Foley resigned in September 2006, two months before
the general election, long after the Republican leadership had failed to discipline him, and only after a blog stopsexpredators.blogspot.com)
and ABC-TV news exposed his hoped-for affairs may have included other
staff dating back at least a decade.
Rep. Robert E. Bauman (R-Md.), publicly homophobic founder
of Young Americans for Freedom and the American Conservative Union, who
admitted he had solicited sex with a 16 year old male. Bauman lost the
general election in 1980 and later declared himself to be gay.
Rep. Donald Lukens (R-Ohio), who was convicted in 1989 of
a misdemeanor for having sex with a 16-year-old girl. The "affair" may
have begun three years earlier. Lukens finally resigned in October 1990, after having lost the Republican primary several months earlier.
Republican leaders aren't the only ones who commit adultery, nor are conservatives or members of the Religious Right, including preachers, solely the ones to have violated the seventh and tenth Commandments.
Democrats also have a litany of their own scandals. But, it is the "family values" Republican leaders, who have led the party of right wing moral indignation; it is the Religious Right that has overtaken the party and wears the now-tarnished shield of righteousness to protect itself against anyone who doesn't share their own views of the world, including moderate and liberal Republicans, and anyone belonging to another political party.
The hypocrisy and moral turpitude of the leaders is just one reason why only 21 percent of Americans identify themselves as
Walter M. Brasch is a university professor of journalism, social issues columnist, and the author of 17 books. His current book is Sinking the Ship of State: The Presidency of George W. Bush, available from amazon.com, bn.com, and other stores. You may contact him through his website, www.walterbrasch.com
Copyright 2013 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.