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Tilting at Windmills

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July 21, 2009

C STREET'S ANIMAL HOUSE NEEDS A MAKEOVER.... The headlines have been less than kind lately for the secretive "Fellowship" that lives in the red-brick townhouse on Capitol Hill's C Street. Some high-profile members of the so-called "Family" -- Mark Sanford, John Ensign, and Chip Pickering -- have been caught up in sex scandals, despite being far-right, "family-values"-style Republicans, who've spent years moralizing to the rest of us.

Zachary Roth argued yesterday that the Christian fellowship group is engaged in a little "rebranding" this week, with news stories characterizing the evangelical ministry as "a benevolent prayer group that offers 'crucial counseling' to its powerful members, helping keep them on the straight and narrow."

But looking over the reports, Roth concludes the adultery controversies may not be a coincidence.

[T]he re-branding seems only to add to the evidence that C Street and the Fellowship serve first and foremost as a way for Republican family values politicians to discreetly deal with their extra-marital affairs.

Politico reports that the Fellowship focuses on what its leaders call the "'up and out,' or powerful politicians struggling to confront their personal demons." And Hall, the former Democratic congressman, explained to Roll Call what he sees C Street as being for: "These men [Ensign, Sanford, and Pickering] are good men. They made mistakes and they're paying for it. And that's what these ministries are about."

That explanation ... makes clear that dealing with extra-marital affairs is absolutely central to C Street's purpose.

Which, of course, leads to another complicating angle. If lawmakers in this ministry turn to their fellow "Family" members for spiritual guidance, that's obviously a private matter. If, however, these lawmakers also turn to their fellow "Family" members to help cover up personal scandals -- say, with hush-money payments -- then we have members of Congress with first-hand knowledge about another member's wrongdoing.

Tom Coburn thinks "Fellowship" members don't have to talk about these matters. Whether he's right remains to be seen.

And if you missed it, Rachel Maddow had another great segment on C Street last night.

Steve Benen 10:40 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

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Comments

Politico reports that the Fellowship focuses on what its leaders call the "'up and out...'

Yet it's members seem a little more focused on the ol' 'in and out,' if you know what I mean.

Posted by: doubtful on July 21, 2009 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

Maddow also had a great section devoted to disproving almost every tirade uttered by Pat Buchanan.

Are there any members of the C Street Gang who are not white male Republicans?

Posted by: mlm on July 21, 2009 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

As with current baseball players and use of PEDs, I think that each and every current and past resident of C Street is tainted and subject to suspicion. Thus it is more than fair that some journaminimalist type directly ask each one of the current residents whether they have had an affair(s), had counseling, and whether their wives/spouses/significant others approve of them living in such a place for known philanderers.

Posted by: bubba on July 21, 2009 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

It sure is a good thing that hypocrisy isn't a sin.

Posted by: MattF on July 21, 2009 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

A commenter at Daily Kos rebranded it the Prayboy Mansion.

Posted by: PattyP on July 21, 2009 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

i think this religious cult gains its power by influencing the lives of these congresscritters who are as emotionally immature as adolescent boys, and steeped in hypocritical myths ("family values" and lord jeebus), and controlled by the age-old hook of christianity -- get 'em by the short hairs of their "sins."

lining up together their "unfaithfulness" -- to their partners and their lord -- gives these boys a very unhealthy process for understanding and resolving their desires and behaviors.

lucky the fate of the country isn't in the hands of such disturbed and immature men -- oh, wait...

Posted by: neill on July 21, 2009 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

OK, this may be an obvious question but since Coburn seems heavily involved with group - what is Coburn hiding?

Posted by: Unstable Isotope on July 21, 2009 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Unstable Isotope,

Until proven otherwise, I'm just going to assume Coburn, who is a gynecologist, preformed off-the-books abortions for concubines for a sizable contribution.

Posted by: doubtful on July 21, 2009 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

"These men [Ensign, Sanford, and Pickering] are good men. They made mistakes and they're paying for it. And that's what these ministries are about."

That explanation ... makes clear that dealing with extra-marital affairs is absolutely central to C Street's purpose.

*eyeroll* yeah...if Hall was a logic professor, standing in front of a classroom. But for a common sense understanding of colloquial expression, what the writer is asserting is clear is not at all 100% certain.

Unbearable pedantry: confer, a car dealership salesman who says "finding savings for our customers is absolutely central to what we do". He's got plenty of incentive to say it, but you don't for a minute believe that in the back rooms all the employees are working to maximize your savings.

Posted by: Michael R on July 21, 2009 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Why isn't accepting free rent from a group who requires the recipient to attend private counseling considered a bribe? It is clear they are trying to influence their votes.
A D.C. brownstone in a good area has got to be about 24,000.00 a year??? maybe more?

Posted by: Ned Pepper on July 21, 2009 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

That's the beauty of this thing - they are not exposing everything.

Rumors abound that there is a gay escort-call service. Well, actually it's more than rumor.

***no, this is not the one that Barney Frank's ex had years ago. This is one for C-Street.

Other than that there will be more exposed.

***Btw, I make a point of talking about McConnell & Graham. Personally, I don't have a problem with the GLBT, I have two cousins that are gay men. I am just fed-up with the hypocrisy of these elected officials denying the rights of people, down-talking people, and they put themselves on a pedestal.

Posted by: annjell on July 21, 2009 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Unstable Isotrope & Doubtful,

I think the answer lies in that Patsy Buchanan has Reiters Disease - apparently caused by untreated Chlamydia

Neil Bush (Jeb & George Bush's brother) allegedly gave his wife herpes before they divorced.

So yes, they would need a gynecologist to treat certain venereal diseases instead of sending them them (the women-flings) to their private doctor which would probably file reports with the health department. Here they can treat and release with it ever being part of a medical file that would be leaked to the press.

Posted by: annjell on July 21, 2009 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

The "Family" ain't just about covering up affairs, that's only the cherry on top.

It's much more dangerous. Read the reporter who's breaking all this: http://jeffsharlet.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Joey Giraud on July 21, 2009 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't the "house" on C Street considered a "church" with tax-exempt status?

Anyone know?

h

Posted by: h on July 21, 2009 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry to bring this up, but wasn't Hillary Clinton a member of The Family when she was a Senator? What did she know and when did she know it? No wonder she was so well liked among her Republican colleagues in the Senate.

Posted by: Chris on July 21, 2009 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

If you need a lot of 'help keeping on the straight and narrow', why should anyone want you in a position of responsibility?

In a position of responsibility isn't it your job to help others keep on the straight and narrow?

Posted by: alan on July 21, 2009 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Glad that Chris pointed out Hillary was a member too. I don't think it's useful for us to paint the Family as an example of Republican hypocrisy. Dems can be and are members too. The Family seems to be open to any and all hypocrites and adulterers on the Hill.

Posted by: Andrew on July 21, 2009 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Which one is Bluto?

Posted by: FitterDon on July 21, 2009 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

C Street's Animal House

Well, shades of John, Belushi, Batman!!!

http://ww1.prweb.com/prfiles/2005/12/07/319854/JohnBelushi..JPG

TOGA!!!

TOGA!!!

TOGA!!!

Posted by: S. Waybright on July 21, 2009 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Glad that Chris pointed out Hillary was a member too. I don't think it's useful for us to paint the Family as an example of Republican hypocrisy. Dems can be and are members too. The Family seems to be open to any and all hypocrites and adulterers on the Hill.

C Street proves that sexual infidelity is equal among the two parties.It's certainly starting to look as though those rumors about Hillary and Vince Foster were true.

Posted by: MatthewRQuarreler on July 21, 2009 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

I'm in the middle of reading The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, by Jeff Sharlet. The influence this group has on US domestic and foreign policy is scary, scary, scary.

Posted by: anandine on July 21, 2009 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Some info I got from the D.C. website:
Address: 133 C Street SE
SSL: 0733 0285
Neighborhood: Capitol Hill
Owner: Youth With a Mission, Washington D.C.
(hard to avoid snark here, very hard)
Zoned: Residential (D.C. definition of residential as "Class 1 - improved residential real property that is occupied and is used exclusively for nontransient residential dwelling purposes." The tax rate for residential property is 0.85% per annum. If it were commercial the tax rate would be 1.65% up to 3 million.)
Current Value: $1844810
Tax Type: "E1 - Religious" I more than guess this means they are exempt from property taxes, but I could not find the actual record saying this or a zero reciept, h. Otherwise the tax would be 15,681 dollars. 'K h?

Posted by: Hazy on July 21, 2009 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Saw one such story on Politico. Heavy on the "pastoral" stuff, and how "crucial" counseling was for these guys. If they are a recovery group, like Steve hints, they are certainly a bad one.

Posted by: Hazy on July 21, 2009 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

How precisely did the cause and effect relationship work here? Was it so that certain Reps and Senators aggregated at the C Street House because they had 'personal demons' they needed to deal with or did they develop 'personal demons' because of the frat house counseling they received while being members of the 'Fellowship'?

Posted by: SRW1 on July 21, 2009 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

I hear Hillary Clinton ate children in satanic rights.

Posted by: jen f on July 21, 2009 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

I hear Hillary Clinton ate children in satanic rights

... and cute little puppies. We mustn't forget the puppies she ate.

Posted by: G.Kerby on July 21, 2009 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

"It sure is a good thing that hypocrisy isn't a sin."

But I'm pretty sure that adultery and coveting your neighbor's wife are.

Posted by: Cal Gal on July 21, 2009 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

"A commenter at Daily Kos rebranded it the Prayboy Mansion."

I call it the Fellowship of the Traveling Pants.

Posted by: Sarah Barracuda on July 21, 2009 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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