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July 26, 2007

Hypocrisy Will Out

Tony Soltero

A little over a year ago, the Republicans, who then controlled the Senate, moved aggressively to address the most important issue confronting our nation at the time.

Did they mean the Iraq war?

Well, were they trying to speed up the heretofore glacial process of Katrina recovery? Strike two.

Oh, you say, Osama bin Laden! Finally, an all-out effort to capture him? Wrong again!

Health care? Education? Let's end the suspense. It was...drum roll... gay marriage.

That is correct. The Republicans, who couldn't be bothered to do anything about dealing with the Iraq war, decided instead to focus their energies on making sure that America adopted a constitutional amendment that prevented states from recognizing same-sex unions if they so chose.

Ah, those Republicans - such staunch defenders of small government and states' rights. And one of the main ringleaders of this effort - one of the bill's authors - was none other than Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, who pounded his chest at the time and remarked, "I don't believe there's any issue that's more important than this one."

Yes, that David Vitter. The one and only. The senator, who cheated on his wife and consorted with multiple prostitutes, was the same senator who rode into Washington on a family-values high horse and solemnly declared same-sex marriage to be "the most important issue" in the country. More important than Iraq. More important than terrorism. More important than disaster recovery or health care or the budget deficit.

Apparently Senator Vitter was so focused on others' marriages that he forgot to take care of his own.

As they say, you couldn't make this stuff up, though after Newt Gingrich, Mark Foley, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Ted Haggard, and countless others, anyone who's surprised by the Republicans' loose standards on family values needs to put down that PlayStation for a second and get out in the real world a bit. It's gotten to the point where one can assume that the Republicans' shrill cant about family values is just a rhetorical device to disguise their own shortcomings on the issue.

So, naturally, Senator Vitter's been busily trying to cast himself as the victim of that nasty, unfair media that just can't wait to sharpen its claws on politicians who stumble. It's typical of this kind of so-called "Christian" politician - it's all everybody's fault but his. How dare those mean reporters reveal to the country that he's a duplicitous phony?

But Senator Vitter needs to understand one basic fact. When he based his public campaign on his deep concern for other people's private, intimate relationships, he surrendered his right to keep his own sexual indiscretions private. You can't have it both ways - if you're going to make an issue of what private citizens do in their bedrooms, to the point of drafting legislation controlling citizens' private sex lives, then your own sexual habits are fair game.

A politician - and politician - who adopts a "family-values" platform is not entitled to privacy if he himself engages in sexual practices he claims to disapprove of in others. If the politician is basing his campaign on circumscribing the private relationships of citizens, why should the politician get a free pass on his own?

Citizens deserve to know if their elected leaders don't believe that they should personally be required to live up to the standards of behavior they wish to impose upon the rest of us. American voters deserve better than to be represented by such craven hypocrites, and it is not just the media's prerogative to expose these phonies - it is the media's responsibility to do so.

It matters if David Vitter consorts with prostitutes, just like it matters if a virulently anti-drug politician smokes marijuana in his spare time; just like it matters if a staunch environmentalist owns a fleet of Hummers; just like it matters if a war advocate dodged the draft when he was of military age. We have the right to know if our leaders are frauds.

Why? Because there's nothing more odious than a public figure who believes that the principles he publicly advocates don't personally apply to him. That's antithetical to democracy.

Now, if a politician doesn't base his message and his policy on citizens' private sex lives, it is prudent to respect his privacy should he get into trouble in that department. Such an officeholder would not be holding the general citizenry to behavioral standards he wouldn't follow himself, so there wouldn't be anything relevant to publicly expose.

If, say, a county commissioner, whose campaign was based on growth-and-development issues, got mixed up in an extramarital affair, there would be no point in publicizing the matter. It wouldn't make the affair right, and he'd still have to answer to his family and his faith - but that would have little bearing on his fitness for public service.

Put another way, it wouldn't be that big of a deal if, say, Maryland Senate President Michael Miller frequented slot parlors. But it would be a big deal if Speaker of The House of Delegates Michael Busch did.

And if a certain officeholder, who constantly parrots the "family-values" mantra as part of his campaigns, does something like, say, abandon his young family in favor of another woman, we voters damn well have the right to know.

The public deserves to know if its elected officials are frauds. We now know that about Senator Vitter.

Is there anyone else? Let's see if the media chooses to do its job and inform us, the voters, of the existence of any hypocritical frauds in our elected delegations.

Woodsboro - Walkersville Times
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