The Common Good
September/October 2009

Caught With Their Family Values Down

by Ed Spivey Jr. | September/October 2009

This month’s cover story is about sex, and there is nothing I can add to the topic that would not violate the rules of my parole, except to mention that a Nevada senator—who ...

This month’s cover story is about sex, and there is nothing I can add to the topic that would not violate the rules of my parole, except to mention that a Nevada senator—who single-handedly prevented the District of Columbia from getting voting rights—recently had some sex issues of his own.

In a somber public statement that stunned his Republican colleagues (and probably sent them scrambling to delete personal e-mails, phone records, and credit card receipts), Sen. John Ensign admitted having an extramarital affair with a former staff member, which is wrong in most parts of this country, although on Capitol Hill they’re not sure. (“Wait a minute. You mean to tell me that after years of hard work raising money, earning the trust of my constituency, and rising to a position of enormous power, I CAN’T expect sexual favors from my staff?!?” one stunned elected official might have said in his sleep, off the record.)

I would not even bring up Ensign’s infidelity—since he has asked forgiveness and can rightly expect compassion from those of us who believe in the power of redemption—except for the fact that I want to make fun of him.

You see, the bill giving congressional representation to D.C. residents looked like it would finally pass in May, putting an end to decades of colonial servitude, not to mention taxation without representation, which figured powerfully in our nation’s early history. (Patrick Henry: “Give me liberty, or lower my taxes! Wait, that doesn’t sound convincing enough.”) But at the last minute, Ensign added an amendment that would eliminate the city’s authority to control gun ownership, a vindictive move that killed the bill.

Ensign has long been a supporter of gun rights, which is one of the three moral pillars of Nevada, the other two being gambling and prostitution. Ensign also has a long history of promoting “family values.” To his credit, he made sure his sins did not involve his family, or for that matter, values of any kind.

Yes, I know, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (This was during Jesus’ Elizabethan period, when he also used “thou” and “thee” a lot). But I just got back from the optometrist, and he confirmed there is definitely no beam in my eye. (I would have noticed something like that.)

(Editor’s Note: At press time South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford admitted to an affair with “a dear friend from Argentina.” Sanford was immediately replaced as head of the Republican Governors Association by Mississippi’s Haley Barbour, who was runner-up and, as you recall, did very well in the evening gown competition.)

Sigh. I can’t keep up with these guys! What is it about family values that corrupts so many politicians? The pattern is predictable:

• Political hopeful runs for office on a platform of moral certitude.

• He works his way to high office, grows a handsome head of stylish graying hair, and continues his crusade to protect the American family from the terrorism of universal health care and gay marriage.

• He gets naughty in a public rest room or area hotel, depending on scheduling constraints.

• He then stands at a microphone and reads aloud from The Politician’s Big Book of Contrition, his stoic spouse by his side silently considering which poison would be least detectable in her husband’s breakfast cereal.

• And finally, he suffers the sad and humiliating fate of all disgraced politicians: a lucrative second career as a Washington lobbyist.

Ed Spivey Jr. is art director.

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