Sex scandals not a big deal in politics
Published: Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 14:02
The Republican crusade for morality has claimed yet another victim.
Rep. Christopher Lee, R-NY, packed his bags and hit the bricks after he got caught sending a shirtless photo of himself to an unidentified woman on Craigslist.
The insanity of this is how fast it happened. The Washington Post reported in an article that Gawker.com posted an e-mail exchange between a man using Lee's name and an unidentified woman at 2:33 p.m. Gawker reported that they had met through the personals section of Craigslist. By 6 p.m. that same day, the Post reported that a clerk announced Lee's resignation in the house chamber.
Now surely, having just gotten into his second term in Congress, we can all assume that he liked his job and did not want to leave. So then, why did he resign without a fight? Because he wanted to spare himself the barrage of congressional inquiries and the relentless attacks from the far-right wing of his party that were soon to follow.
He's not the first politician to get caught in a sex scandal, or in Lee's case, an attempted sex scandal. In 2009, Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., admitted to having an extramarital affair with one of his campaign staffers. It didn't cost him his job, but he had to give up a prominent post as chairman of the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee.
We need to put this into context. Did he steal a car? Rob a bank, maybe? No, he simply got caught trying to show some other woman across cyberspace what a beefcake he is, something perfectly legal that plenty of people do everyday.
If we start expecting politicians to resign every time they get caught even appearing to have an affair, we might wind up losing a good chunk of Congress.
Former President Bill Clinton survived his own marital indiscretions with Monica Lewinsky. Not only did we give him a pass on this, but he is now arguably one of the most celebrated leaders in the world. On Monday, MSNBC ran a one-hour documentary calling him "The President of the World."
Clinton actually had an affair and was excused for his actions but Lee has resigned after merely posting a picture.
In our form of representative democracy, it is the job of our elected officials to take care of the people's business. Their sexual affairs are of no concern to me unless they broke some laws in the process. We need them to be our political leaders, not necessarily our moral leaders.
Lee's former district will now have no representation in Congress until Gov. Andrew Cuomo calls a special election.
What if this was a senator that had to resign? Then we would have a whole state that only has half of its official representation in Congress.
We live in serious times and are grappling with serious issues. We have an economy still in recovery, service members fighting for us overseas and a federal budget deficit to address. We need experienced hands on deck now more than ever, and can't afford to be throwing our leaders overboard just because of minor sexual indiscretions.
We have some important battles to fight right now. We don't have time for the cosmetic ones.