Time for decent exposure

Of the 432 members today serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, he is 429th in seniority, having won a special election barely five months ago. But by now, Rep. Vance McAllister, R-La., is known to tabloid readers everywhere as the “Kissing Congressman,” after someone, apparently a staff member, leaked a surveillance video of the married McAllister in his Monroe, La., district office on Dec. 23 amorously kissing a woman congressional employee who is also married.

The Republican governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, who has a reputation for being smart, self-inflicted some serious damage on that reputation by calling for McAllister’s resignation from the House because he is “an embarrassment.” You may remember that Louisiana is represented in the Senate by Republican David Vitter who, with his hurting wife next to him, publicly confessed his “very serious sin,” telling the world he had asked for “forgiveness from God and my wife,” after his phone number turned up several times in the phone records of the Madame running a Washington prostitution ring. Obviously more “embarrassed” by a 30-second video replay of one illicit kiss than by repeated illegal connections with prostitutes, Jindal has continued to enthusiastically endorse Vitter.

This reminds me of the Senate’s four-year refusal to seat Republican Reed Smoot, a Mormon leader, who was elected in 1902. In spite of the fact the Mormon church had renounced all future plural marriages in 1890, Protestant groups were adamantly opposing a Mormon in the Senate, even though Smoot was happily married to just one wife. Smoot was finally accepted after Republican Sen. Boies Penrose of Pennsylvania argued: “I would rather have seated beside me in this chamber a polygamist who doesn’t ‘polyg’ than a monogamist who doesn’t ‘monog.'”

Personal political scandals almost always follow the same script.

The penitent wrongdoer is diagnosed with some previously unnoticed medical condition and, almost miraculously, undergoes a profound religious


This is one reason why I so personally value the late and irrepressibly colorful and able Texas congressman, Charlie Wilson. When it became public that the Justice Department was investigating the use of drugs on Capitol Hill, Wilson, a Democrat, denied he had ever used cocaine and then added that whatever happened, “I won’t blame booze, and I won’t suddenly find Jesus.”

When it comes to public penance for personal wrongdoing, no politician has ever rivaled the genuine character of John Profumo, the British secretary of war who consciously lied to the House of Commons by testifying that there had been no impropriety in his relations with a woman named Christine Keeler.