Republicans and adultery; and an exchange about John Edwards with an Edwards supporter

While NYT op-ed columnist Gail Collins is generally worthless, at least she’s not—like, say, her colleagues Thomas Friedman and Paul Krugman—demented. And once in a while she’s witty.

Today she makes some observations that strike me as both accurate and funny:

… Which brings us to sex. What is it with Republicans lately? Is there something about being a leader of the family-values party that makes you want to go out and commit adultery?

They certainly don’t have a lock on the infidelity market, and heaven knows we all remember John Edwards. But, lately, the G.O.P. has shown a genius for putting a peculiar, newsworthy spin on illicit sex. A married congressman hunting for babes is bad. A married congressman hunting for babes by posting a half-naked photo of himself on the Internet is Republican.

Note: I believe Collins is referring to former Rep. Christopher Lee of New York:


Back to Collins:

A married governor who fathers an illegitimate child is awful. A married governor who fathers an illegitimate child by a staff member of the family home and then fails to mention it to his wife for more than 10 years is Republican.

A married senator who has an affair with an employee is a jerk. A married senator who has an affair with an employee who is the wife of his chief of staff, and whose adultery is the subject of ongoing discussion at his Congressional prayer group, is Republican. [I believe she’s referring to Sen. John Ensign of Nevada.]

We haven’t even gotten to Newt Gingrich yet!

- end of initial entry -

Ken Hechtman, VFR’s Canadian leftist reader, writes:

I was outraged at John Edwards’ staffers before. I’m furious at them now. A year ago I would have been happy to see them blacklisted from electoral politics. I didn’t want to see them able to run a campaign for head pig-chaser in the smallest village in Afghanistan. But that’s not good enough anymore. Now I want their heads up on pikes in front of Democratic Party headquarters. I want them to serve as a warning to young staffers a hundred years from now—out your boss on a character issue and this is what happens to you.

We can disagree about Schwarzenegger’s record in office. We probably would. But it’s thanks to his staff we get to do that. They did their jobs. They protected him while he was running and every day that he was in office. And in the history books, he’ll be judged by what he did in office. We’ll never know what John Edwards could have done.

May 20

Clark Coleman writes:

The fallacy here is that Schwarzenegger, Gingrich, Lee, and Ensign were never leaders of moral conservatives. Gingrich (amazingly) is trying to re-cast himself for moral conservative voters as he runs for President, but was not in the moral conservatism vanguard when he was in the House. Schwarzenegger was “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” and appealed to that libertarian/libertine crowd in California. There is a sleight of hand trick here: the GOP is generally the moral conservatism party compared to the Democrats; certain members of the GOP who have never been moral conservatives commit adultery; so, spin it as “members of the family values party commit adultery and are therefore hypocrites.”

LA replies:

That’s true. Also, Gingrich had little to do with the impeachment process and was not at all in the vanguard of those criticizing Clinton over the Lewinsky scandal, in fact he was silent on it; yet the impeachment is attributed to him, inevitably, because he was Speaker.

Michael S. writes:

Ken Hechtman writes:

“We’ll never know what John Edwards could have done.”


Who cares about personal moral integrity, anyway? Apparently effectiveness and “getting the job done” are all that matter.

LA replies:

I understand that Mr. Hechtman is on the left. Yet, given the realism with which he approaches various pragmatic issues, I am always astonished by his deep-seated belief in John Edwards as the great leftist leader that could have been. Edwards wasn’t just flawed in his private life. The man was a walking joke, fake as a three dollar bill from his toes to the top of his lustrous head. That anyone of normal mind could take the man seriously, on any level, still amazes me.

Ken Hechtman writes:

Edwards was using his primary run to talk about class in a way that no mainstream Democrat had done since the 1930s. This wasn’t Bill Clinton’s 1992 dog-whistles on the subject where people heard what they wanted to hear. This was every bit as open and in-your-face as Jesse Jackson’s race politics or Hillary Clinton’s gender politics. If there’s anybody else in recent years who’s talked about class the way Edwards did and rose as high doing it, I can’t think of his name. If you can, please tell me what it is. I’ll clear my schedule for 2012.

Over the last forty years, the mainstream American left has been very serious about identity politics and culture war politics. That has consequences. We won on many more issues than we lost. But at a cost. We’ve been fundamentally unserious about economics and class politics over that same time and that has consequences too. We lost on far more of those issues than we won. John Edwards’s campaign rhetoric had the potential to change that trade-off and that would have been true even if he didn’t believe it himself. If he’d won on the strength of it, it would have taken on a life of its own.

This is completely unrelated, but it’s the only story I have from someone I know personally who had any direct dealing with John Edwards. In the 2005 Montreal municipal election, I did some work for William Shady El-Hami. I’ve mentioned him before at VFR. He’s the Egyptian Copt who makes you look like a hopeless liberal on the Islam issue. Anyway, sometime after 2001, he was arrested on terrorism charges in North Carolina. If you know his background, you know how ridiculous that is. He managed to get a call through to John Edwards and Edwards got him released. No questions asked.

And to answer Michael S. directly, no, I really don’t care about personal moral integrity. I care about the laws my candidate will pass and the spending priorities he’ll set. In short, I care about the job he’ll do. If I’m going to sweat and possibly bleed for a candidate, it’s for that. It’s for the job he’ll do. Not because he passed on an opportunity to cheat on his wife.

LA replies:

Ok, I understand. You felt, from your leftist point of view, that his rhetoric about America being “two nations” represented something real. I felt that such rhetoric, coming from this ambitious, soul-less pretty boy, was just one more aspect of his overall fakeness and unreality. In other words, had I been a leftist, I wouldn’t have taken it or him seriously.

Ken Hechtman replies:

Some things are true whether the person saying them believes them or not.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 19, 2011 05:10 PM | Send

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