In 2006 the voters said they wanted politicians in Washington to clean up their act. They were tired of overpaid members of Congress not doing their job and their lousy ethics. They threw Republicans out not only because of Iraq, but because these were the people who assured the voters they represented basic family values and a return to a good moral code for America. The voters thought they represented integrity and their own values. But then, Mark Foley of Florida quit the house after he was caught exchanging sexually explicit E-mails with under age male pages. Lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s illegal connections to Republican congressional members and friend of the Bush administration resulted in his being put in prison. In the meantime, Senator David Vitter of Louisiana had his phone number show up in the list of a Washington D.C. madam. In addition, Washington State’s favorite enemy, the arrogant Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska has been involved in FBI investigations of corrupt activities along with Representative Rick Renzi of Arizona. Now Republican Senator Larry Craig of Idaho denies guilt ("I’m not a crook") in a gay sex sting at a public restroom. The issue isn’t: is he gay? The issue is integrity and hypocrisy – this is a senator who voted against a bill that would ban job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. He voted against a bill to bar hate crimes for sexual orientation and he voted against allowing gay marriage. This is a senator who has previously denied and now, again, denies any gay involvement while the evidence of guilt is overwhelming and who looks very much like one more political Republican hypocrite. In addition, As Andrew Sullivan in his Daily Dish blog points out, the senator’s reaction to being arrested was to give the cop his card identifying him as a U.S. Senator and asking what the cop thought of that. Sullivan correctly notes:
The laws are meant to apply to everyone, Senators included. No one gets to violate laws he himself supports and then use the fact that he has been elected to high office to get himself off the hook. Being elected Senator means being given a position of trust and responsibility that you should work every day to be worthy of, not a Get Out Of Jail Free card.
The Republicans have a credibility problem with American voters who thought they elected people who supported traditional moral values. Hypocrits don’t belong in Congress and Democrats should take note of that fact as well. Washington needs to clean up their act generally.