Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Scandal Response

Last night I got the following response on my facebook wall, to yesterday's post about the Weiner scandal:

I can’t seem to be able to post on your blog site, but I needed to say this. I just want you to be fair when you look at these scandals. It is not just the Democrats, the Republicans have plenty of their own. David Vitter, Mark Foley, John Ensign, Larry Craig, Mark Sanford, Arnold Schwartzenegger, and Chris Lee. Also, not to defend Anthony Weiner, but his pictures were not nude, he was wearing underwear. There is no evidence of him being nude in his photos.

To comment, you have to sign in to Blogger. I welcome civil comments. This one comes from someone I know, who reads my blog probably only because she loves me and cares about me, not because we agree. And I refrain usually from commenting on her political facebook posts as well because I love her and care about her more than I care about defending my views to her. But this, today, I think will be instructive beyond our personal conversations.

Let’s start with Weiner. He started out denying; in fact, he claimed to have been hacked. Further, he claimed to have been hacked by Andrew Breitbart. He wasn’t, of course. Eventually he confessed. In the meantime, Breitbart had been defamed. But he is not without resources; he has (I heard this on radio—have not searched to see for myself, nor have I seen any of the infamous Weiner photos) not just the lewd underwear shots but nude photos purportedly sent by Weiner. So, while it may appear I was exaggerating the story, from my point of view I was not. That said, I hope you agree that sending any lewd photos, even partially clothed ones, is far below acceptable behavior for a leader we are expected to refer to as the Honorable.

The point I made yesterday was not that Republicans are sin-free and Democrats are sinful. I am deeply disturbed every time an elected official is caught in a scandal. I feel personally hurt and betrayed by their breach of trust. But my point about Democrats yesterday was their disturbing acceptance of the scandal. So let’s look at the list you sent, and see if I made an unfair point.

  • David Vitter, R. LA, caught in scandal involving a prostitute. He succeeded a Republican representative who stepped down following an adultery scandal, ironically. He has faced primary opposition each time, but being in a safe Republican district did not believe he would be ousted by voters, so he did not step down. I do not know why he was not pressured to step down by colleagues in the House, unless it is because he was accused but not convicted. His behavior is despicable. All I can say is, Louisiana is practically immune, since corruption is a way of life there. I have had hopes that Gov. Bobby Jindal could make some improvements. He has, but not enough yet.
  • Mark Foley, R, FL, was caught sending illicit emails and other messages to pages. He stepped down the same month the news broke, in part leading to a Democrat majority in the House in November 2006. 
  • Larry Craig, R. Sen. from Idaho, was arrested for lewd conduct in a men’s restroom in the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. He claimed innocence but pleaded guilty to lesser charges of disorderly conduct, and at first refused to step down. Under pressure from Republicans in the Senate (which was opposed by Senate Democrats), Craig finally agreed to step down, less than three months after the scandal broke.
  • Mark Sanford, R., Gov. SC, was caught in adulterous affair with an Argentine woman, which came to light when he went missing for over a week. Republicans immediately insisted he step down as head of the Republican Governors association. Republicans in his state pressured him to step down. Twice they attempted to bring forth impeachment proceedings but were thwarted by state Democrats. Eventually he was censured by the legislature as a whole but was allowed to finish the final year of his term, at which time his political career ended.
  • John Ensign, R. NV, was caught in an adultery scandal and immediately stepped down.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger, R., Gov. CA, was caught in adultery scandal after leaving office. His political career is over—unless he changes parties, which would be not much of a leap for him.
  • Chris Lee, R. NY, was caught sending a bare-chested photo of himself to a woman he met online; he is married and a father. He immediately stepped down. No charges were filed.
  • Let’s add Newt Gingrich, Speaker of the House at the time he was caught in an adultery scandal. He immediately stepped down. He married the woman he was involved with and has, by his reports, found religion. He was always articulate on conservative principles, so I believe he has rehabilitated himself enough over a decade and a half to have an occasional article read. I don’t think he is rehabilitated enough to run successfully for office. So, in essence, his political career ended with the scandal.
So, what we see, with the exception of Vitter, is that Republicans step down, or are pressured and then step down, and as quickly as Republicans can accomplish it, their political careers are ended because of the scandal. 

Democrats, on the other hand, have kept Bill Clinton, Teddy Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Anthony Wiener, and a long list of sexual and corruption scandal-ridden leaders. They deny; they claim everybody does it; they claim this is their private life only; they stay despite the scandal.  

So your comment, rather than showing I was unfair, actually strengthens my point. Uncivilized behavior in our leaders can’t be tolerated. Those who tolerate it for political reasons are uncivilized. Republicans, while unacceptably scandal-ridden, have not been tolerating the scandalous behavior. The Democratic Party, on the other hand, has a lot to answer for.

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