Marital fidelity is not an issue on which you select your brain surgeon. Sexual orientation shouldn’t affect your choice of automobile mechanic. A taste for cross-dressing at home has no relevance to the quality of work your plumber does.
Just so, a sane person would not say that what someone does with their genitals has any bearing on how good they are at running a county, a state, or a country.
Republicans, by contrast, have made genital placement (where one puts them, not where one has them) one of their signature issues. They call it “family values,” “character,” “faith,” and such, but what they’re saying is that personal sexual conduct is how a politician ought to be judged.
There is an upside to their position.
All the top political sexual scandals of 2009—Senator John Ensign, Governor Mark Sanford, former Congressman “Chip” Pickering, and Alan David Berlin—belong to Republicans. Very conservative, double-righteous, religion-sucking Republicans, at that.
It makes us free to wallow in their misery on a rational basis: They have demanded that this be how they should be judged.
Senator John Ensign of Nevada is a member of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. He has participated in mass rallies conducted by the Promise Keepers, a men-only Christian group, and during his four years as a congressman had a 100–percent voter approval record from the Christian Coalition.
When he’s in Washington he lives in the C Street Center.
It’s owned by The Fellowship, sometimes called “The Family.” It is an organization that envisions itself as a sort of Mafia for Christ (not their words). Their theology is that Jesus really loved the rich and powerful and disdained the meek and mild, and that there is a secret Bible within the Bible that says so. Their mission is to form a secret organization to rule the world and make themselves richer and more powerful because it’s what God wants. (I am not making this up.)
To effect this mission, they rent out living space to powerful and influential people at their headquarters for just $600 a month, a pretty great rate for downtown Washington, DC.
Ensign is married.
He was screwing one of his staff. Fairly standard practice, as staff and interns have the virtue of convenience and adultery is necessarily a sin of opportunity. The woman, Cindy Hampton, was also married. Her husband, Doug—who also worked for Ensign—got upset or greedy or both, and demanded cash for his pain. Or he would go public.
Ensign’s parents (there’s a caring Mom and Dad to this story) gave Doug $96,000, parceled out to his family members in $12,000 chunks to avoid bank-reporting issues and income tax liabilities.
Senator Tom Coburn appears to been party to the negotiations.
Coburn, who also lives at the C Street Center, refuses to talk about it. “I was counseling him as a physician and as an ordained deacon. That is privileged communication that I will never reveal to anybody. Not to the Ethics Committee, not to a court of law, not to anybody.” Coburn is an obstetrician (Ensign was neither pregnant nor likely to become so) and has been a Baptist deacon (layperson who assists the minister), so the claim of confidentiality, for all its righteous thunder, is a bit of a stretch.
In case anyone doesn’t know, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford is married, with four children. He fell in love with a woman from Buenos Aires. Also married. It was, in his own words, “a forbidden and tragic love story.” He wept about it in Argentina, he wept about it in South Carolina, and he wept in New York as well.
Sanford used to be a congressman. He voted to impeach Bill Clinton over the Lewinsky affair. He called it “reprehensible,” and said, “I think it would be much better for the country and for him personally (to resign). I come from the business side. If you had a chairman or president in the business world facing these allegations, he’d be gone.” Sanford has not, of course, resigned as governor. Instead, he has compared his tribulations to those of King David in the Old Testament.
When in Washington, Sanford resides at the C Street Center. Surrounded by prayer and comforted by the reassurances that Jesus wants him to be rich and powerful.
Charles “Chip” Pickering was a congressman from Mississippi. He was slated to replace Senator Trent Lott, by appointment, when Lott resigned, but Chip turned it down and left politics.
He was married with five children, he also lived at the C Street Center and is said to have met with his paramour there. He appeared briefly in Borat, at a Pentecostal meeting in which evolution was attacked. Chip’s ex-wife is currently suing his girlfriend, Elizabeth Creekmore-Byrd, for alienation of affections.
Finally, there is Alan Berlin, until May of this year a staffer to Jane Orie, a state senator in Pennsylvania. He’s different than the rest. He’s a furry. He likes to dress up in animal suits. Panda is his first choice, but he also had a wolf and a cat outfit, and liked to wear and use diapers as well. He contacted a 15-year-old boy on the Internet and was making plans to visit him so they could “yiff,” the furry term for f**king, in his backyard, when the boy’s parents found the e-mails.
So, there they are, hoisted by their own petards. (Ah, at last you find out what a petard is.) I say, yank on the rope and hoist them higher.
Not because they want to have sex. Not because they commit adultery, because they’re hypocrites, or wear panda suits.
Hang them high because they used sexual hysteria and fear to muddy and then hijack the political process, then worked, as their religion told them to (Berlin excepted), to make the rich and powerful ever more rich and powerful at the expense of those whom Jesus (supposedly) actually cared for.