Does everyone do it?
This is what I ask myself these days whenever I pick up a newspaper. It seems like every time I do, there is a new story about one of our boys in Washington resigning because of some sort of sex scandal. It is interesting and disturbing to look at the history of sexual misconduct within our own democratically elected legislature. Is everybody doing this? Should I get with the program and go have a few affairs? Or do we Americans just seem to have an extraordinary ability to elect depraved individuals devoid of morals?
I never thought I would say this, but do you remember the good old days of Slick Willie Clinton? When even a man known for his womanizing ways couldn’t muster a greater scandal than to simply have sexual relations with an intern? And we wanted to impeach him for that. Oh, how little we knew about the depths to which our elected officials could sink. Yes, it seems that Clinton did not set the bar high enough, prompting our current barrage of “I-can-be-more-depraved-than-you” contest entries.
When the Mark Foley scandal broke, everyone was horrified, and understandably so. The man is arguably one of the most disturbing human beings to ever hold political office in the United States. His gross misconduct toward his pages is almost unprecedented, and I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t exactly be clamoring to sign up for the congressional page program now. And if I had kids, I wouldn’t be particularly eager to send them off to the program, either. It is a sad commentary on our society that the men we elected to run our country are people that cannot even be trusted with our children, and lately it seems that even those members of my own party who are supposed to be strong upholders of family values are the most egregious offenders.
But hey, we naively thought, at least a scandal of the magnitude of Foley’s will seriously discourage others from engaging in misconduct that will further destroy the public’s faith in its elected officials. Cue Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, who pled guilty to a disorderly conduct charge for allegedly soliciting sex in a Minneapolis airport men’s bathroom. He has since made repeated claims about his innocence, further complicating an issue that was becoming more and more convoluted as it received national attention. Craig has refused to resign, and the details of the senator’s sex life continue to be thrust upon us.
However, I admit even I thought that with the Larry Craig scandal happening, there was no way another politician could make the same mistake, at least not anytime soon. And yet, Richard Curtis, a Washington state representative, has now made national headlines for an alleged sexual encounter with a male porn star. The story broke Tuesday, and Curtis resigned the following day. Much like Craig, Curtis has made concerted attempts to salvage his good name. “I’ve done a lot of - damn good for this community,” Curtis said, according to the Clark Country Columbian, a statement that almost certainly won back the hearts and minds of everyone disappointed in him.
The question to ask is, why? Why is it that we have this amazing ability to elect criminals to local and federal legislatures? Whatever the case may be, the trend is disturbing. If we Republicans want to have any hope of regaining supremacy in Congress, the crackdown on these men must be swift, and future incidents must be prevented. Power seems to be corrupting more than ever these days, and if we can’t find the right sort of people to hold political office, the scandals of Foley and his ilk will simply not remain in the past.
Shane Carley is a freshman in the School of International Service and a conservative columnist for The Eagle.