Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ensign won't resign but he deserves to be called a hypocrite

After admitting an affair yesterday, Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) resigned his leadership position as Chair of the Senate Republican Policy Committee (the number four spot in the house GOP leadership) but declined to resign from the Senate.

As a matter of fact, I will say that I support his decision not to resign. That's because it is up to the voters of Nevada to decide whether they feel that whatever he may have done in his personal life disqualifies him from serving. I'm not endorsing his affair, but let's be honest here-- if all the adulterers in Congress were caught and resigned, it would be sort of like baseball without steroid users; the number of faces that'd be missing would likely be massive. However, I've never felt that what people do in their personal life has, or should have, any affect on how well they do their job. I disagree with almost everything that Senator Ensign stands for but that's a completely separate issue from his personal life.

However, where he does deserve a box on the ears for this is in the personal hypocrisy department. In fact, (as Nate Silver points out) Ensign has in the past called for Bill Clinton and Larry Craig to resign after they got in trouble for their sexual exploits.

Not that Ensign is the first Republican to engage in this kind of hypocrisy of course. Remember that the impeachment charge against Bill Clinton was led in the House by Speaker Newt Gingrich and pit-bull hatchet man Dan Burton. As we now know, both Gingrich and Burton were covering up their own affairs at the same time they were moralizing about Bill Clinton's. And let's not forget Republicans like Larry Craig and David Vitter who got where they were precisely by preaching about morality.

Yes, Democrat Eliot Spitzer became Governor of New York the same way, but he got what he had coming-- Spitzer could have ridden out getting caught doing a one-night stand with a prostitute but the hypocrisy of a guy who had run on his record as a prosecutor of sending other people to prison for the same thing pretty much guaranteed that he had no other option than to resign.

Ensign hasn't sent anyone to prison but he has certainly preached about morality and for that he deserves to be branded as a hypocrite.

Say what you will about Bill Clinton, but at least he never criticized anyone else's sex life.


Anonymous said...

I love people who never bother to read the scriptures (i.e. Matthew 7:3) but like to throw them at other people.

And you're right. Bill Clinton was an adulterer. John Ensign is an adulterer and a hypocrite. Seems to me that Bill has less to repent of.

shrimplate said...

Is monogamy so rare?

Jack Hampton said...


In Washington it probably is.

Think about it-- hundreds of the most powerful men in the country, away from their families for months at a time, and all of them have a big ego and think they really are Mr. Somebody (pretty much required to get to Congress.) Throw in dozens of young, attractive clerks, pages and staffers and it's a wicked brew.

Maybe that doesn't describe every one of them, but probably most of them (though I'm still waiting for the first sex scandal to involve a Congresswoman-- maybe they are more disposed towards monogamy than the men.)

Eli Blake said...


Jack summarized my point.


You forgot to mention the fact that in Washington the potential for influence peddling, blackmail (for either money or legal 'favors') and lobbyists (some of whom are intentionally seductive today as they always have been, I'm sure) adds an even more spicy ingredient to your 'brew.'

And don't assume that there aren't female sex scandals waiting to happen, just right now women are such a small percentage of Congress that the law of averages hasn't caught up with them yet. The day it does you can be sure it will be the biggest story in the country.

Eli Blake said...

In fact, I'm surprised that most the spy scandals involve money. It would be a lot cheaper and easier to have an agent seduce someone in a position of power, than to pay them millions of dollars to become a traitor.

Zach said...

Ensign, unlike Clinton, wasn't getting head under a desk we paid for.

So comparing it to Clinton is a little off.

Eli Blake said...


Are you sure about that? The woman involved was for a time a member of his staff and was also the wife of one of his staffers, who we know he was paying a government salary to for some time after the affair started.

If he'd gone out and spent money from his wallet on a prostitute then you'd be right, but clearly there is some expenditure of government money here (even if is only for time when he or she was getting paid but performing no useful work.)

Eli Blake said...

Well, it seems I called that spy scandal comment right on cue. Might Gov. Sanford be.... ?

Zach said...

I could be wrong about this, BUT... I believe it was a campaign staffer. Not someone he met through an official internship program.

Eli Blake said...

I'm not sure how he met her but for a time she was on his payroll, and her husband was on his payroll for quite awhile during the affair.

shrimplate said...


Helen Chenoweth, "congressman" (as she preferred to be called) from Idaho, admitted to a long-standing affair. This was after she had called upon Clinton to resign for having extra-marital relations.

She herself chose not to resign after her own indiscretions became public. In fact, she ran again and was re-elected.