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) (www.about.com).
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.