Sex scan­dals of the Demo­crat kind

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

Ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can Psy­chi­atric As­so­ci­a­tion’s Di­ag­nos­tic and Sta­tis­ti­cal Man­ual IV, New York Rep. An­thony D. Weiner needs some time on the couch, prefer­ably at $300 an hour or what­ever psy­chi­a­trists charge in his Long Is­land district.

I’m no shrink, but judge for your­self whether his re­cent be­hav­ior — sex­ting and twit­ter­ing risque pho­tos to women not his wife — fits this de­scrip­tion of para­philia:

“The di­ag­nos­tic cri­te­ria of the DSM-IV are that the in­di­vid­ual has ex­pe­ri­enced in­tense sex­ual urges, arousal or be­hav­ior in­volv­ing the ex­po­sure of their gen­i­tals to strangers for at least six months. Fur­ther, the in­di­vid­ual has ei­ther acted upon these urges or they cause sig­nif­i­cant per­sonal dis­tress or in­ter­per­sonal dif­fi­culty.”

Given the non­stop cov­er­age of Mr. Weiner’s de­nial, con­fes­sion and sub­se­quent ex­poses, I’d say he’s ex­pe­ri­enc­ing some “in­ter­per­sonal dif­fi­culty.” He must have known that this could hap­pen some­day and that “per­sonal dis­tress” could oc­cur given his promi­nence.

Maybe he fig­ured he would get kid-glove treat­ment. Mr. Weiner’s fel­low Democrats, in­clud­ing New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer and Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Harry Reid, are be­ing very, very care­ful. The Democrats don’t want to of­fend the sex­ual lib­ertines who have made the don­key party their nat­u­ral home. So what rule, then, did Mr. Weiner break that would con­sti­tute a re­mov­able of­fense?

How about the bald­faced lies Mr. Weiner told? Sex­ual hi­jinks alone usu­ally are not enough to un­seat a Demo­crat. Re­mem­ber, the party cir­cled the wag­ons around Pres­i­dent Clin­ton dur­ing Mon­ica­gate. And when it came out in 2006 that New Jer­sey Gov. James McG­reavey had had an af­fair with a male aide, he re­sisted re­sign­ing un­til the lies were no longer sus­tain­able.

In the late 1980s, Rep. Bar­ney Frank’s lover, Stephen Go­bie, ran a pros­ti­tu­tion ring out of Mr. Frank’s Capi­tol Hill town house, which was dis­closed by The Wash­ing­ton Times in 1989.

As the Bos­ton Globe re­ported in a 2005 ret­ro­spec­tive, “Frank hired Go­bie as a driver de­spite know­ing Go­bie was on pro­ba­tion for drug pos­ses­sion and for pos­ses­sion of child pornog­ra­phy. Frank used his House priv­i­leges to fix Go­bie’s park­ing tick­ets. He wrote a memo try­ing to clear Go­bie from pro­ba­tion that was disin­gen­u­ous at best and an out­right de­cep­tion at worst.”

The House is­sued a rep­ri­mand, and Mr. Frank is still very much with us. In 1983, his Mas­sachusetts col­league Rep. Gerry Studds ad­mit­ted hav­ing had sex with a 17-year-old male page 10 years ear­lier. The House man­aged to work up a cen­sure vote. Studds lit­er­ally turned his back on the cham­ber, sig­nal­ing his con­tempt. His con­stituents echoed that sen­ti­ment, re-elect­ing him sev­eral more times. In 1996, Congress named a marine sanc­tu­ary af­ter him.

Be­fore we leave Mas­sachusetts, let’s not for­get the late Ed­ward M. Kennedy’s ex­tra­mar­i­tal ad­ven­tures, which have not dis­cour­aged lib­er­als from li­on­iz­ing him as a moral paragon.

One ex­cep­tion to the rule that Democrats don’t pay for sex scan­dals was New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who re­signed within two days af­ter the New York Times re­ported in March 2008 that he had used a pros­ti­tute. Of course, Mr. Spitzer went on to bet­ter things — his very own talk show on CNN.

The “speak no evil” re­sponses of lead­ing Democrats dur­ing Wein­er­gate con­trast sharply with the Repub­li­can re­sponse: “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

In 1983, the same day that Studds was cen­sured, the House voted to cen­sure Illi­nois Repub­li­can Rep. Daniel Crane for hav­ing a sex­ual re­la­tion­ship with a 17-year-old fe­male page. Mr. Crane lost his seat the next year.

Sen. John En­sign of Ne­vada hung on for two years af­ter his af­fair was re­vealed in 2009, but he fi­nally re­signed. More quickly out was New York Repub­li­can Rep. Chris Lee, whose shirt­less pic sent to a woman not his wife was too much for House Speaker John A. Boehner, who told Mr. Lee in Fe­bru­ary to get out of town.

Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi, on the other hand, merely said she was “dis­ap­pointed” over Mr. Weiner and turned the mat­ter over to an ethics panel. Mr. Lee prob­a­bly should have been ac­corded the same pro­to­col, but then, Mrs. Pelosi, un­like Mr. Boehner, is not run­ning a party iden­ti­fied with fam­ily val­ues.

Last year, In­di­ana Repub­li­can Rep. Mark Souder re­signed im­me­di­ately af­ter his af­fair with an aide was dis­closed. In 2006, Repub­li­can Rep. Mark Fo­ley of Florida re­signed within two days af­ter his lewd emails to a 16-year-old male page came to light. Repub­li­can Gov. Mark San­ford of South Carolina re­signed as chair­man of the Repub­li­can Gov­er­nors As­so­ci­a­tion in 2009 af­ter get­ting caught tak­ing his mis­tress to South Amer­ica. The state leg­is­la­ture cen­sured him in 2010. Al­though he ig­nored pleas to re­sign and fin­ished his term, his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer was over.

Repub­li­can Sen. Larry Craig, Idaho’s “wide stance” cham­pion ar­rested in an air­port in June 2007, also tried to hang on but re­signed three months later.

The only prom­i­nent Repub­li­can sur­vivor of a sex scan­dal that comes to mind is Louisiana Sen. David Vit­ter, who apol­o­gized to his wife and con­stituents af­ter his name turned up in a madam’s list in July 2007.

Be­ing the party of fam­ily val­ues is a two-edged sword for the GOP.

The late, great con­ser­va­tive ac­tivist Paul Weyrich an­gered many in the GOP when he came out in 1989 against Texas Sen. John Tower’s ap­point­ment as de­fense sec­re­tary over Tower’s lack of “moral char­ac­ter.” Mr. Weyrich tes­ti­fied that he had seen the mar­ried Tower drunk and with other women.

Char­ac­ter is pro­foundly im­por­tant. If lead­ers vi­o­late their spouses’ trust, it is only a mat­ter of time be­fore they be­tray their con­stituents.

Fi­nally, there is black­mail. When pub­lic of­fi­cials com­mit adul­tery or other sex­ual of­fenses, they are at the mercy of any­one who knows. That in­cludes con­gres­sional staff and cer­tain in­ter­est groups.

In Mr. Weiner’s case, it in­cludes any­one un­for­tu­nate enough to be on his Twit­ter list.

Robert Knight is se­nior fel­low for the Amer­i­can Civil Rights Union and a colum­nist for The Wash­ing­ton Times.

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