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COMMENTARY:

Tarnished Shields: The Morally Bankrupt 'Family Values' Republican Leadership

by Walter Brasch
Friday, 26 June 2009

Gov. Sanford isn't the only "family values" philanderer and hypocrite.

Some columns are easier to write than others.

This is one of them.

Providing all of my research were the "family values" Republicans.

This week, second term Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina disappeared for six days, leaving the state without a chief executive who could make decisions in an emergency. His Republican lieutenant governor didn't know where he was, and had not been given any authority to make decisions in his absence. The state police said they had not been informed. His wife told the Associated Press she didn't know where he was, wasn't worried about him, and thought he was "writing something and wanted some space to get away from the kids" over the Father's Day weekend. His senior aides said he was walking along the Appalachian Trail to "clear his head."

But it wasn't his head that he was clearing. When he returned, after first lying to a reporter for the Columbia State who caught up with him on his return to the Atlanta airport, he finally admitted he went to Argentina to meet with a long-time lover. His wife, who was not by his side when he held an early afternoon press conference, later said she and the governor had separated two weeks earlier. The State later produced e-mail love letters between Sanford and his lover that it had been keeping since December.

The rising young star of the Republican party who was seen as a presidential contender in 2012, the man who was head of the Republican Governors Association until the day after he acknowledged his extramarital affair, the man who had wanted to deprive his state of $700 million in federal stimulus funds as a political message to President Obama, the man who had established himself as a beacon for the sanctity of marriage and the values of the oh-so-pure Religious right, was not only an adulterer, but for at least the second time had left his state at risk, since there were no contingency plans of how to reach him in an emergency.

Alas, Gov. Sanford isn't the only "family values" philanderer. Slightly more than a week earlier, Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) admitted he had a nine-month extramarital affair with one of his campaign staff. Ensign, who was contemplating a run for president in 2012, had been chair of the Republican Policy Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Like Gov. Sanford, Sen. Ensign only admitted to the affair after information had been leaked to the media.

This is the same John Ensign who, as a congressman, had curled his lips in revulsion at Bill Clinton's affair, and demanded he either resign or be impeached. "He has no credibility," Ensign told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 1998. Six years later, now a senator, Ensign supported a federal ban on same sex marriages by declaring, "Marriage is the cornerstone on which our society was founded....[M]arriage, and the sanctity of that institution, predates the American Constitution and the founding of our nation." Ironically, Ensign is active in Promise Keepers, an evangelical group.

Also vigorously calling for President Clinton's impeachment, while having had their own extramarital affairs and covering them up or lying about them, were:

Add to the list of morally bankrupt Republicans:

Republican leaders aren’t the only ones who commit adultery, nor are conservatives or members of the Religious Right, including preachers, solely the ones to have violated the seventh and tenth Commandments. But, it is the "family values" Republican leaders, who have led the party of right-wing moral indignation; it is the Religious Right that has overtaken the party and wears the now-tarnished shield of righteousness to protect itself against anyone who doesn't share their own views of the world, including moderate and liberal Republicans, and anyone belonging to another political party.

The hypocrisy and moral turpitude of the party's leaders is just one reason why only 21 percent of Americans identify themselves as Republicans.


Walter M. Brasch is a university professor of journalism, social issues columnist, and the author of 17 books. His current book is Sinking the Ship of State: The Presidency of George W. Bush, available from amazon.com, bn.com, and other stores. You may contact him through his website, www.walterbrasch.com



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This story was published on June 26, 2009.