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Tilting at Windmills

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June 17, 2009

ENSIGN, WHOA.... Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't much care what Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) does in his personal life. What he does in his bedroom is his business.

But the larger context of this story matters a great deal. Stupid personal mistakes are easily overlooked; breathtaking hypocrisy isn't.

Sen. John Ensign (Nev.), considered a rising star in the Republican Party, yesterday acknowledged an extramarital affair with a former campaign staffer who is married to one of the lawmaker's former legislative aides.

Ensign, a member of the Senate Republican leadership, disclosed the affair at a hastily arranged news briefing in Las Vegas, his home town.... "I deeply regret and am very sorry for my actions," Ensign said, reading from a prepared statement and leaving without taking questions.

The details of the affair are rather salacious -- Ensign was in a relationship for much of 2008 with a woman on his staff, who was married to a man who was also on his staff -- but those circumstances are really only relevant to the people directly involved in the relationship.

Of far greater interest is Ensign's hypocrisy. When Bill Clinton's adultery came to public light, Ensign not only voted to remove the president from office, but insisted the president should resign as a result of the personal scandal. When former Sen. Larry Craig was caught up in a sex scandal, Ensign not only called for Craig's ouster, but led the charge against him.

Ensign has also been a fierce opponent of marriage equality, and supported a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. In 2004, the Nevada Republican lectured his colleagues, "Marriage is the cornerstone on which our society was founded. For those who say that the Constitution is so sacred that we cannot or should not adopt the Federal Marriage Amendment, I would simply point out that marriage, and the sanctity of that institution, predates the American Constitution and the founding of our nation."

And did I mention that Ensign is a longtime member of the Promise Keepers, a conservative evangelical group that promotes strong families and marriages?

Few really care about Ensign's private life. The story is relevant only insofar as the Republican lawmaker has spent much of his career touting "families values" and using his office to promote his version of sexual morality -- with standards he doesn't apply to himself.

For what it's worth, his previous statements regarding others notwithstanding, Ensign has said he does not intend to resign. He is not up for re-election until 2012.

Steve Benen 4:01 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (22)

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Comments

Posting ability, whoa!

Posted by: MissMudd on June 17, 2009 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

And what's really annoying is that he would probably never have admitted it except that his former lover was trying to blackmail him. (CNN)

Posted by: Marko on June 17, 2009 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

The story is irrelevant (sic) only insofar as the Republican lawmaker has spent much of his career touting "families values" and using his office to promote his version of sexual morality -- with standards he doesn't apply to himself.

For what it's worth, David Vitter likewise spent much of his career touting the same while not applying it to himself.

Yet, I doubt either Vitter or Ensign will be subjected to the same scrutiny and scorn applied to...oh, say, Eliot Spitzer...

Posted by: Michael on June 17, 2009 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Glad you're back!

Anyway, Republicans and hypocrisy go together like peas and carrots.

Posted by: Melissa on June 17, 2009 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

most all that stuff is reg'lar republican repugnancy and hypocrisy -- but that promise keepers bullshit. god damn those arrogant, privilege-assuming assholes.

when the last patriarchal religion is dead with a shovel-full of dirt on its john wayne death mask... we'll be a lot closer to that "free at last... free at last..." feeling mlk, jr dreamed of...

oh, so ensign: fuck yourself. maybe you should change your name to "senator" you know, so you fit into a catch 22 characterization you so deserve: "senator senator" (or enlist in the navy and be "ensign ensign" if they'd have you after the us senate taint)

Posted by: neill on June 17, 2009 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Stupid personal mistakes are easily overlooked; breathtaking hypocrisy isn't.

This is more than mere hypocrisy. First he has an affair with a staffer, which, while common, creates issues of power and fairness to other employees. But worse, he cheats with an employee's spouse? I can't think of a type of affair that is more offensive. Ensign makes Vitter, Craig and Gingrich look like choir boys. This is about character, power, loyalty and a basic sense of fairness.

Posted by: Danp on June 17, 2009 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

IOKIYAR

So at this hastily arranged news breifing, did he make his wife stand by his side? Which married aid prepared his written statement? Did that aid check first to make sure that Ensign wasn't nailing his wife as well?

Posted by: Winkandanod on June 17, 2009 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

This is so common with these Republican hypocrites, it's hardly even newsworthy anymore. I suppose we should just assume they're ALL lying adulterers until proven otherwise.

Posted by: Juanita de Talmas on June 17, 2009 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

My take on PromiseKeepers is that when it comes to fidelity, they are anything but. It is called Projection...it is blatant and obviously characteristic of authoritarian types. If Ensign chooses to remain in the Senate, what is to prevent a call for his resignation by the Democrats, unless they also have similar behaviors to hide. He has already resigned a leadership position. It seems that the more power one has, the more layers one can release and still remain in power. Were he a newly elected Sen. he would simply step down.

I am committed to Oneness through Justice and Transformation
peace,
st john

Posted by: st john on June 17, 2009 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

heh. love the title

Posted by: hoot on June 17, 2009 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

So it's 'Promise Keepers, Losers Weepers'? At least it's refreshing that a Republican is caught in a heterosexual scandal for a change.

One question; since Ensign was brought down by an extortion attept from his piece-of-ass' husband, does it mean that the husband decided to whore out his wife?

Posted by: Ken on June 17, 2009 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, Steve, it's great to have you back; I suspected something nefarious was about. Now I can get my WM fix.. whew!

Posted by: Ken on June 17, 2009 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

these 'family values' creeps. I guess he was separated at the time, read somewhere.

even so, what a hypocreep.

Posted by: mitzi on June 17, 2009 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

When Bill Clinton's adultery came to public light, Ensign not only voted to remove the president from office, but insisted the president should resign as a result of the personal scandal.

I agree that Ensign falls a bit short as a Promise Keeper, but his scandal has yet to involve a sexual harassment lawsuit, a controversial deposition, or controversial grand jury testimony.

Similarly, Sen. Craig was charged with a crime. A subtle distinction to some, no doubt, but there it is.

Posted by: Tom Maguire on June 17, 2009 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, please. Ensign is a born-again Christian. He has accepted Jesus H. Christ as his personal savior. This means he is going to heaven regardless of what the hell he does, and he knows it.

What's a little adultery. Promise Keepers? Hell, the man kept his promise. He's a Republican, isn't he, and don't Republicans promise to say one thing and do another?

Not only that, but at least he's not diddling underage boys. It's a step up for the Republican Party.

Posted by: Magic Dog on June 17, 2009 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

Since democrats don't have many morals then it's a nice ready-made political attack to declare hypocricy.

Unless I missed it...when did the democrats begin to tout that adultery and divorce was a good thing? The hypocrisy angle is much like the race card...trotted out whenever needed.

Posted by: dude1394 on June 17, 2009 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that Ensign falls a bit short as a Promise Keeper, but his scandal has yet to involve a sexual harassment lawsuit, a controversial deposition, or controversial grand jury testimony.

Which is to say that he didn't have a well-funded smear campaign, backed by powerful partisans in congress and a rogue special counsel, trolling for any bit of dirt they could use to spring a perjury trap.

Republicans are scum. Ensign is just demonstrating what sum they are for the umpteenth time.

Posted by: jimBOB on June 17, 2009 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

Looks like there might be another shoe about to drop"

Posted by: Butch on June 17, 2009 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

Waht's even more hypocritical is Ensign's "policy" of never being in a car alone with a woman "not his wife" (as was ballyhooed back in 1999 when he ran for Senate)

Synomyms for "Republican" - moron, hypocrite, fraud, idiot, arrestee

Posted by: TCinLA on June 18, 2009 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

Interesting...the GOP never fail to amaze me.

It's obvious, there's something wrong with them.

For instance, Sarah Palin, complaining about the joke from David Letterman. Shouldn't Mrs. Palin be more concerned with the rapists and meth addicts in her state than David Letterman.

As a woman, I can clearly understand why some men will not date a woman with kids, or remain distant. This is what you call baggage.

BTW, I can spell Sarah Palin, D-R-A-M-A Q-U-E-E-N.

Posted by: annjell on June 18, 2009 at 4:41 AM | PERMALINK

As detailed by DB at Desert Beacon, Ensign once tried to reconcile his call for Craig's resignation with his continued support for Vitter by saying that Craig had admitted to the inappropriate behavior whereas Vitter had not. Now that Ensign has admitted to the affair, by his own standard he should resign.

Posted by: smintheus on June 18, 2009 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

If it is indeed true that Ensign made this announcement because the husband of the woman involved tried to blackmail the Senator, that husband is an idiot and almost as big a fool as Ensign.

Ensign is not up for re-election for the Senate until 2012. He was positioning himself to run for President, possibly in 2012. Why blackmail him now? Wait until his re-election year, or until he's a serious Presidential contender or possibly even the GOP nominee. This guy clearly failed the part of Blackmail 101 related to timing - don't put the screws on until your intended victim has the most to lose.

Posted by: bpai99 on June 18, 2009 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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