Wednesday, August 19, 2009

It's a simple lesson - 'fess up and then shut up

You know, normally I pass on serious posting about the personal affairs/scandals of Republican elected officials because I believe that even they are allowed to be human. They were elected to do a job and while there are many qualifications needed for that job, personal sainthood isn't one of the qualifications.

So unless the personal scandal affects their job performance or ends up in the police blotter rather than the gossip pages, I leave it alone.

There is one exception to that informal rule: Shameless hypocrisy.

Case in point - Nevada Senator John Ensign.

From AP via Yahoo! News -

Sen. John Ensign told The Associated Press on Wednesday that his affair with a friend's wife was different from former President Bill Clinton's relationship with a White House intern because he didn't lie about it under oath.

"I haven't done anything legally wrong," the Nevada Republican said.
Let's see -

- Bill Clinton cheated on his wife with a White House intern and when caught, his first instinct was to deny everything, even when under oath.

OK, that's bad. But while I'm certainly not condoning the affair or the attempt to cover it up, it's not as if Clinton invented the concepts.

- John Ensign cheated on his wife with a campaign staffer who was the wife of one of his close friends. A friend who was a staffer in his Senate office. Ensign tried to cover up the affair with hush money in the form of a $25K "severance package" for his girlfriend when she left her job with his campaign, and in the form of a $96K "gift" from Ensign's parents.

There's more - a timeline of the affair and its aftermath from the Las Vegas Sun here; other details from the LV Sun here.

I am *not* saying that what Ensign has done is worse than what Clinton did, but he's in no position to point fingers.

While Clinton had a perjury issue to deal with, Ensign could have tax issues, campaign finance problems, possible lawsuits and more.

In short, Ensign's affair and its aftermath is just as tawdry as Clinton's.

Ensign could have saved himself a lot of grief after the details of the affair began to emerge if he had just learned the primary lesson of the Clinton scandal (other than "elected officials shouldn't cheat on their spouses") -

When caught, 'fess up and then shut up.

No comments: