Thursday, June 25, 2009

On Republicans and Family Values - Mr. gingrich, tear down that wall!

With the admission by South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford that he has been having an affair with a “dear, dear friend” from Argentina, the Republican Party and their conservative supporters have once again failed the morality test. The revelations of similar conduct last week by Senator Ensign, coupled with the past transgressions of Senator Vitter and Senator Craig should point out to the Republican Party that it has both an image problem, and a far more pernicious but less notice action problem.

The image problem is simple – after spending most of the last two decades railing against the loss of “family values,” Republicans have now lost any moral high ground from which to attack Democrats. Sure, many still rail against Bill Clinton for his affair with Monica Lewinski, but they at least managed to impeach him over his subsequent conduct. That he was found not guilty in that proceeding is often overlooked. Now, however, we’ve had four senior Republicans rolled out in the last two years as unfaithful within the context of a “traditional” marriage, thus betraying one of the “family values” – the sanctity of that marriage between a man and a woman – which they so fervently howl over.

That veil lifting leads to problem number two – a lack of action, or actions in contradiction to rhetoric. To begin with, none of the Republicans in question were forced to resign much of anything – though voters did take care of Mr. Craig on their own. Mr. Vitter remains in office, but Louisiana politics are extreme at best, so I am not really surprised. It remains to be seen what happen to Mr. Ensign and Mr. Sanford, but I won’t hold my breath. None of these folks resigned publically, and no one from within their own party has called for their resignations, though they easily could on grounds of moral turpitude. None of them has been impeached either.

So, if the Republicans came to me and asked for advice, I’d tell them this: Hold a national caucus with all the Governors, Senators, and Congressmen. Give them one chance to come clean with their fellow Republicans, and then resign voluntarily from their posts. If they don’t then don’t give them a single dime in their next election. Don’t let Republican Political Action Committees give them a single dime either, or buy issue or attack ads. Make it perfectly clear to subsequent candidates that this won’t be tolerated.

Then, go to Capitol Hill and introduce meaningful legislation that addresses real threats to real family values. Put out a healthcare reform alternative that protects children and family budgets by making healthcare (particularly primary and preventive care) both available and affordable to all. Pass federal legislation to curb both the need for and the devastating effects of divorce. This is a public health and economics issue that affects the entire country and reform should come from the federal level. Strengthen environmental laws that ensure clean air, water, and sustainable use of earth’s natural resources, so individual families no longer have to witness the devastating effects of pollutants on their kids.

And tell twice divorced (due to affairs) Newt Gingrich to take a hike.


Mike at The Big Stick said...

"With the admission by South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford that he has been having an affair with a “dear, dear friend” from Argentina, the Republican Party and their conservative supporters have once again failed the morality test."

I think that's a bit of an exaggeration...isn't it? The problem seems to be that if the GOp talks about 'traditional values' and any of its members stray, they are seen as hypocritical. So even though there are plenty of philandering politicians on the Left side of the aisle they get a pass because, hey, they never said anything about family values!

Philip H. said...


I don't think its a stretch at all. If, as a party, Republicans are going to strenuously hew to the line of "family values" including the "defense" of "traditional" marriage, then when their own supposed leaders break that contract I expect the same Party to apply the standards to itself that it applies to others. To do less is hypocritical. And in this case, we can't talk about Democrats and their philanderings because:

1. No Democrat currently stands accused or exposed (as opposed to two Republicans in a week), and

2. Democrats do not run around spouting off about a value system that SHOULD condemn this sort of thing. Rather, they focus on things like healthcare, climate change, and the economic crisis which are a far greater set of threats to families.

Finally, I'm not sure Democrats get a pass - The Republican-controlled House of Representatives impeached Bill Clinton for doing this sort of thing, and John Edwards political future has been destroyed by his infidelities.

jg said...

I just discovered your blog (via Grumbine's) and wanted to say hello, thanks, and keep it up, as I'll be back to catch up on what you've written here and elsewhere.