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When Bill Clinton was President of the United States, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives impeached him. The charges against President Clinton arose from his personal life, how he failed to keep his zipper closed in the presence of a woman who was not his wife and how he responded when his sexual behavior became public. In the end, the Senate acquitted President Clinton.
Before, during, and after the attempted removal of President Clinton, the Republicans repeatedly laid claim to being the party of family values. After all, Clinton disrespected his wife and his marital vows. However, we should examine the Republicans' claims as carefully as the Republicans examined Clinton's indiscretions.
Following are examples of the family values of individual Republican officials.
When he was Mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani attempted to move his mistress into the official Mayor's mansion while his wife and children still lived there. Now (2007) that he is running for President as someone who supports traditional family values, Giuliani claims his own family relationships are private and no one else's business. At least one of his children is campaigning for a Democrat.
Among Republican members of the House of Representatives who led the impeachment against President Clinton, Dan Burton of Indiana, Henry Hyde of Illinois, Bob Livingston of Louisiana, and Bob Barr of Georgia all had extra-marital affairs while in Congress.
While his second wife was hospitalized undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich demanded a divorce settlement that short-changed her of property rights and alimony. Wife number three was Gingrich's mistress while he was still married to wife number two.
Mark Foley abruptly resigned his seat in the House of Representatives a little more than a month before the November 2006 election. Foley was almost guaranteed re-election from his Congressional district in Florida until it was revealed that he had been sending sexually suggestive E-mail messages to teen-aged Congressional pages. After that revelation, it became publicly known that Foley "cruised" the streets of our nation's capital, seeking sex with underage males. Ironically, Foley sponsored federal legislation to reform sex-offender laws. While he was the chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, he was also exploiting children.
After four terms in the House of Representatives, Pennsylvanian Don Sherwood — long presenting himself as a family-values conservative — lost his re-election bid in November 2006. In a well-publicized lawsuit filed in 2005, Sherwood's long-time mistress claimed he physically abused her. Sherwood (married with three children) settled the suit for about $500,000.
When his name appeared in the address book of Deborah Jeane Palfrey (under investigation for running a prostitution ring in our nation's capital), first-term Senator David Vitter of Louisiana admitted in 2007 that he had indeed been a customer of the "Washington Madam". However, he denies claims by Jeanette Maier, the former madam of a New Orleans brothel, that he was also her very good customer.
Also in 2007, first U.S. Senator Larry Craig (Idaho) and then Florida state legislator Rob Allen — both staunch Republicans — were arrested for soliciting sex in men's restrooms. Serving first in the House and then in the Senate, Craig has a 27-year history of supporting family values by voting against gay-rights legislation and in favor of prohibiting same-gender marriage. However, his attraction to man-man sex was apparently an "open secret" among Idaho gays.
In the first half of 2009 — after national elections in November 2008 that significantly repudiated the Republican party — Senator John Ensign (Nevada) and Governor Mark Sanford (South Carolina) both admitted to adulterous affairs. Both of these Republicans had previously been mentioned as potential Presidential candidates in 2012, but any such aspirations had to be abandoned.
California State Assemblyman Mike Duvall (a Republican from conservative Orange County) received a 100% positive rating from the Capitol Resource Institute, a family-values advocacy organization. Duvall abruptly resigned from office on 9 September 2009, a result of his comments — heard during a lull in a July meeting of the Assembly Appropriations Committee, heard over a microphone that he did not realize was live — about affairs he was having with two (not one) women neither of whom is Duvall's wife. His comments about his sexual activities with his mistresses were vividly explicit. Since the Committee hearing was videotaped with sound, Duvall could not claim that he was misquoted, quoted out of context, or otherwise misunderstood. Not one Republican in California was willing to defend Duvall. He is now under investigation since both of his mistresses happen to be lobbyists at the Legislature, one with business at the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee where Duvall was vice-chairman (chairman of vice??).
Congressman Christopher Lee (a Republican from western New York state) abruptly resigned after a photo of him became public. The photo showed the congressman shirtless and flexing his muscles. Sending the photos to a woman he found on Craigslist, the married, 46-years-old Lee described himself as a divorced, 39-year-old lobbyist. The woman — exercising appropriate care — quickly determined Lee's true age, occupation, and marital status via an Internet search.
For a while, it appeared that evangelical Christians — the target of the "family values" position of the Republican party — were beginning to withdraw from political activism. The rise of the Tea Party movement — with a large influx of evangelical Christians and a clearly Republican orientation — proves this was not a trend.
No, the Democrats are not clean either. After all, neither former President Clinton nor former Senator John Edwards (a Democrat from North Carolina) could keep their flies zipped up. Therefore, the point here not to whitewash the Democrats. The point is that Republicans claim to be the political party of family values, but they are actually the party of hypocrisy.
8 October 2006
Last updated 12 February 2011
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