Values-Voters Beware

The “values vote” has recently been hands-down in the Republican camp. But ongoing behavior by “conservative” values-touting politicians betrays a skin-deep-only belief in the values they extol.

Most recently, David Vitter, Republican Senator from Louisiana, was forced to publicize the fact that he had employed the services of the D.C. Madame. He said he had asked forgiveness of his wife and of God. There are a couple of ironies that accompany this revelation.

First, David Vitter’s wife, Wendy, said during the Clinton impeachment when asked if she would deal differently with infidelity than Hillary Clinton had, “I’m a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary. If he does something like that, I’m walking away with one thing, and it’s not alimony, trust me. I think fear is a very good motivating factor in a marriage,” she added. “Don’t put fear down.” Evidently, the fear factor wasn’t enough.

Second, David Vitter got his Senate seat appointment after Republican Senator Bob Livingston resigned unexpectedly in the middle of the Clinton impeachment proceedings. His precipitous resignation was the result of the imminent publication of his own marital infidelity. At the time, Livingston was essentially the Speaker-elect, replacing Newt Gingrich, who had his own infidelity rap-sheet. “Gingrich obtained his first divorce in 1981, after forcing his wife, who had helped put him through graduate school, to haggle over the terms while in the hospital, as she recovered from uterine cancer surgery. In 1999, he was disgraced again, having been caught in an affair with a 33-year-old congressional aide while spearheading the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton” (emphasis added) (

Two of the three highest-polling Republican presidential candidates have also had their share of values challenges. “[John] McCain divorced his wife, who had raised their three children while he was imprisoned in Vietnam, then launched his political career with his new wife’s family money [ibid].

“[Rudy] Giuliani informed his second wife, Donna Hanover, of his intention to seek a separation in a 2000 press conference. The announcement was precipitated by a tabloid frenzy after Giuliani marched with his then-mistress, Judith Nathan, in New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. . . . In the acrid divorce proceedings that followed, Hanover accused Giuliani of serial adultery, alleging that Nathan was just the latest in a string of mistresses, following an affair the mayor had had with his former communications director” [ibid].

The top-polling Republicans (Guiliani, Thompson, McCain, Romney) have had an average of two marriages each and are on average 13 years older than their current spouses. The top-polling Democrats (Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Richardson), in contrast, have all only been married once and the difference in age averages two years.

Somewhat unrelated (but not really) was the Mark Foley scandal. Foley was a Republican Congressman from Florida who sent racy text-messages to teenaged male pages. His misbehavior was ignored/hidden by the Republican leadership of the House, principally Speaker Dennis Hastert.

In addition to these, ethics violations by the likes of Tom Delay and Duke Cunningham make the values foundation pretty unstable. Moreover, Fred Thompson will have a hard-time selling his pro-life position after having lobbied for an abortion-rights organization in his years as a Washington lobbyist.

Much of the same, I’m sure, goes on among the ranks of the Democrats (although I’m pretty certain Fox News would make all the hay it could out of a Democratic ethics or sex scandal). The only recent scandal involving a national-scene Democrat surrounds Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana (I see a theme developing) who was video-taped accepting $100,000 with which he promised to “motivate” foreign dignitaries. But it’s the hypocrisy coming from the lips of the home-and-family conservatives that really irritates—we all complain about the lies in Washington, but we keep sending in liars. I think values voter should be very wary of whom they select to represent their values in government.


Mike W. says:

Morals and values are different depending on whether one is a liberal or conservative. For conservatives, moral means chaste. For liberals, moral means taking care of the disadvantaged. Therefore Bill Clinton can be a philanderer and still be a moral to liberals. The problems is the hypocrisy amongst the “conservative” ranks. We are all sinners and have our flaws and weaknesses. The problem is that often conservatives pretend that they don’t have these character defects. That’s what gets them in trouble.

It’s also precisely the reason why there are more stories about Republicans than Democrats being unfaithful: their faithful constituents expect more. A couple of recent (more local) Democratic issues are with Gavin Newsome, mayor of SF and Antonio Villaregosa, mayor of LA. These men both had extramarital affairs, but it isn’t a big deal because those values aren’t critical to most liberals.

But it’s funny that we seem to pick and chose what is moral. Liberals are willing to give a free pass to sexual immorality, but will decimate someone for seeming anti-“the little guy.” Conservatives will skewer the guy that is moral unchaste, but don’t seem to give a second thought to the hungry, naked, or sick. What would be interesting is to take Christ at His word and actually try to do it all…but that’s too idealistic.

Reluctant says:

I think Mike needs to take over this domain name. He’s far more in the center.

Centrist says:

Dan, maybe you’re right. Being in the center is too close to the “right” that continues to disappoint. I’ll think of another URL and you can point the old one to Mike’s blog.

Reluctant says:

It’s not necessarily your views/opinions. It’s how you approach the subject matter. There is no objectivity. As illustrated by this post, you only see it from the left side. Mike on the other hand correctly identifies that both sides have their hypocrites. It’s just a matter of which morals to which you want to adhere.

Both sides have their massive faults. Falling right in step with most of America, you only see the faults on the other side of the isle.

Centrist says:

My point was that values-voters have been hoodwinked by electing people who don’t truly share the values that they stand on to get elected. The values that liberals use to get elected are focused on equal opportunity, taking care of the poor and the environment, abortion rights, ending the war in Iraq, etc. When was the last time you saw a Democrat undermine the core values that got him/her elected? There really haven’t been a lot of Democrats accused of basic ethics violations lately. However, I’m sure that the longer they are in power, the more temptation they will be under, and the more they will fall. My point is not that Democrats don’t have problems—it’s that the Republicans seem much more hypocritical because they are running on a platform of morality, not just ethics and “American values.”

By the way, did you hear about Senator Ted Stevens, Republican from Alaska? He’s under investigation for allegedly having a huge remodeling on his house paid for by an oil company (which oil company, by the way, is itself under investigation and its former CEO is “cooperating with prosecutors”).

Speaking of Villaraigosa, the irony is that when the separation was announced, it was the girlfriend—a news anchor—who broke the news of the separation. Crazy, eh?

Centrist says:

How about It’s available.

Mike W. says:

The Centrist is much more conservative than either Reluctant or the Centrist may think. However, he is not right-winged. The Centrist wants to conserve moral values, families, goodness, fair business practice, free markets (real free markets, not those espoused by the World Bank, WTO, or IMF), individual freedoms, civil rights, freedom of religion, appropriate checks and balances of government. That’s the conservative. However, he abhors authoritarian power, hypocrisy, and dishonesty. He favors diffusion of power, holding elected officials responsible to the people. In this he is not of the right.

There is a difference between conservative and right wing. Have either the Centrist or Reluctant read the book I bought for them????

Reluctant says:

We can do that, but you should go with something a little more catchy. is available as is 😉

I personally like the latter as it implies that you are somewhat centerist, but not really.

Reluctant says:

Mike, I would agree that Dave is far from left-winged. And I would also agree that he is more centrist than I make him out to be.

Like I mentioned before though, it’s the way in which he approaches the subjects. If anyone who doesn’t know him personally were to read his blog posts, they would call him a screaming liberal. You and I see him in a different light.

But as I read on some blog the other day… there is a new saying “You are what you blog.” In the online world, that’s all people have to go on. We don’t need to start on whether that’s good or bad, but it’s a fact.

Mike W. says:

But have you read the book?

Centrist says:

The best definition I’ve heard of “a conservative” is “the guy who won.” He wants things to stay the same. I am for change, even “liberal” change.

The way I present myself is as a person utterly disgusted with GWB and his stooges. This is OK, because I am. There are good and bad people on both sides of the aisle, but I feel the most important, pressing, and enduring issues are usually the ones GWB is flubbing. Just because I despise the man doesn’t mean I’m not a centrist; it just means I have a great sense of perception.

I can’t wait until he’s out of office. Whoever follows can’t be as bad (well, maybe Rudy or Hillary would), and I can go back to being simply quitely disappointed rather than vehemently disgusted. GWB will be remembered as AWEP (America’s Worst-Ever President)–mark my words.

Reluctant says:

I haven’t read the book. I need to take some time to do so.

Mike W. says:


But that term for conservative was given by a cynical individual. Honestly, there are things that you definitively and importantly want to conserve, no? There are also things that need to change, but often, those things that need to change need to return to a prior state. That is also a conservative. Don’t by into the progressive, throw away all that is values-laden, jargon for the opposition. Allowing the liberal to define what a conservative is is just as problematic as allowing Rush to define what a liberal progressive is (although Rush is not a conservative. He is a bombastic, self-absorbed, right-winged, authoritarian, hate-monger who wishes only to conserve his bank account and popularity).

You say you are for change, almost as is you are for change just for change’s sake. I don’t really believe that you are . You and I are both conflicted in this great muddled middle of being either a progressive conservative or a conservative progressive. To align oneself with any political ideology just for ideology sake (like “change”) limits ones ability to actually see problems and solutions.

Also, Rudy would be much more authoritarian, secretive, and abusive of executive powers than GWB ever thought of being…maybe as bad a Dick Cheney.

Centrist says:

I just read a piece by Ann Coulter. I had never read or heard anything by her. You gotta see it ( You’ll wince in the first couple of paragraphs, but hold out to the end. Remember, this is the “legal affairs correspondent” for the organization “leading the conservative movement since 1944.” Gird up your loins and jump in.

Reluctant says:

You can’t say that Ann Coulter is anywhere near the norm for the conservative movement. That’s like saying Michael Moore is a leader in the liberal movement.

Ann Coulter is just as wacked as Rush.

Mike W. says:


Coulter is very popular among conservatives and Republicans. Just because you disagree with her tone (which I abolutesly hate) or her arrogance (which is worse than her tone) doesn’t mean she isn’t a spokesperson for hardcore conservatives. She most certainly is, much more so than Michael Moore is for the left, mainly because she has an opinion column that reputable papers actually run.

Her interaction on Hannity and Colmes with Colmes regarding the issues of Pat Tillman shows her racism, nationalism, jingoism. I have links to it at my last post.

Reluctant says:

Look at what you just said… she’s a spokesperson for the “hardcore conservatives.” That means extreme right. Most conservatives would not support much of what she says.

And I agree that her tone and arrogance are on the verge of psychotic.

Mike W. says:

But Dan,

Don’t most conservatives get their information and talking points from Rush and his ilk? Hannity and Coulter and Rush are those that influence conservatives, whether they be hardcore or “mainstream”, they really buy into WHAT they are saying, even if they don’t buy into HOW they say it.

Reluctant says:

I disagree. I think if you polled most conservatives, they will have very little knowledge of who Ann Coulter even is. And sure, they will have heard the names of Rush and Hannity, but they don’t really pay attention to either of them.

Saying that most conservatives get their info from Rush is like saying that Liberals get their talking points from Moore.

Every one of them is not out for their “cause.” Their main purpose is to make themselves money. From Rush and Hannity to Moore and Al Sharpton. When it comes right down to it, they say what they do for headlines and viewers/readers.

Mike W. says:

I guess we differ in what we consider conservatives/Republicans. If we are talking politically active, involved and reading politics who then go on to influence others (I have a couple of really good friends who fall into this category), then for sure Rush, Hannity and Coulter have HUGE influence. If we are talking moderates who are more likely to vote Republican just because that is what everyone around them is doing, then you may be right. The problem is, is that what Hannity, Rash and Coulter believe is what is promoted and believed by most Republican/conservative politicians and that is who is running the country. I know it’s a scary thought, but it is true. You can deny their influence all you want, but it doesn’t lessen it. Even if your conservatives don’t agree with the tone of the above, they fundamentally agree with the substance. Just ask them about immigration, national security, welfare and you’ll start hearing the same stuff you hear from the above pundits. Just try it.

Mike W. says:

One last thing: if you don’t believe the stuff that Hannity, Rush, and Coulter say, you really aren’t a conservative (at least in the conventional use). Crunchy Cons, on the other hand, have a very different set of beliefs from the dominant portion of the conservative movement. I think one thing the author of the book hopes is to reclaim conservativism with his brand. I hope that he can do it.

Reluctant says:

I guess you are right in that many of the conservatives that are very active politically might follow what they say. However, I see a lot of conservatives that aren’t as active politically, but who believe in the basic Republican platform (Christian values, small government, anti-abortion, etc).

That being said, I consider myself a conservative and am fairly active politically, and I don’t agree with everything they say. Sure, some of what they say makes sense, but I think most are so extreme that it’s ridiculous. They won’t cross the isle on _any_ issue.

Centrist says:

The problem, therefore, is that the general-election candidates are chosen by the tails of society in primaries. You have your Rush/Hannity/Coulter adherents (the political active–“active” meaning voting in primaries) choosing the Republican candidate who isn’t at all whom most non-active (and more moderate) Republicans would choose. This is why Giuliani and Hillary have a chance, and in fact lead in the polls. This is also why candidates pander to the extremes before the primaries and then pander to the center in the general election.

The further problem is that moderate views aren’t sexy and won’t get air-time. You’ll never hear a talk show host say “I’m kind of sitting on the fence on this issue, because both sides have good arguments.” It doesn’t sell.

So essentially, we have outsorced the politics of America to talk show hosts who in turn are paid by advertisers to bring in money. When are we going to learn?

Centrist says:

When was the last time any of us voted in a primary election? I haven’t. I guess I can’t grouse about it until I try to change it.

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