Saturday, July 11, 2009

What Happened in Vegas

Collins is spot-on, again.

The reason the Republicans lost so many Senate seats last November is now becoming clear. No one had any time to think about the campaign. They were too busy worrying about Senator John Ensign’s sex life.

Nobody paid a great deal of attention. Really, there are only so many randy Republicans we can keep track of at once. But lately, the Ensign saga has become more and more fascinating. Every social conservative in Washington seems to have been involved.

That's an interesting point: the Republicans seem over-sexed, the very same party that espouses (pun intended) family values as a centerpiece of its mission statement.

Ensign was, at the time, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which was supposed to be working to elect candidates in 2008. In Washington, he lived with some other conservative Christian lawmakers in a building known as the “Prayer House.” Both members of the N.R.S.C. and residents of the Prayer House were brought into the drama. Hampton, in his version of events, seems to remember Ensign’s friends as being particularly concerned with making sure that the cuckolded aide got generous compensation for his suffering.

Hampton is the wronged husband of the woman whom Senator Ensign pursued, and caught, and literally did to the same thing he figuratively did to the husband, his constituents, and the country at large.

One of Ensign’s roommates, Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, was described by Hampton as being particularly vocal about the importance of cash contributions to “make these folks whole.” Coburn denies this, although he won’t say exactly what advice he gave to his erring colleague. Coburn told Roll Call that he talked to Ensign as a “physician and as an ordained deacon” and that he will therefore have the right to keep mum even if he’s dragged into court or a Senate committee hearing.

This makes me sort of hope that some kind of investigation takes place just so Coburn, who’s an obstetrician, can explain how exactly doctor-patient confidentiality figures into this.


We hardly need to point out that Ensign was one of the people who demanded that President Bill Clinton resign over the Lewinsky affair, that he votes against financing for education and contraception services to combat teenage pregnancy and that he supports a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. In the world of politics, hypocrisy is a hard market to corner, but lately the Republicans have been making a Microsoft-like effort to do it.

Actually, we do need to point out their hypocrisy.

Both of the Hamptons lost their jobs, and Doug was shuttled off to a Las Vegas-based airline, run by a friend of Ensign’s, where he is now vice president of government affairs. Unappeased, he hired a lawyer to demand that Ensign make financial amends for “evil and completely unjustifiable acts by one of our country’s top leaders.” He also tried to leak the story of the affair to Fox News, apparently under the theory that out of all the media, Fox would be most excited by the opportunity to humiliate a powerful conservative Republican senator.

Fair and balanced, right?

Truly, this puts a whole new spin on the term “family values.”

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