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Mark Shields
Mark Shields
12 Apr 2014
If Hypocrisy Were a Felony

To be fair, most Republicans have never hidden their distaste for campaign-finance laws that place limits on … Read More.

5 Apr 2014
If Only One of Them Had Ever Run for Sheriff

In his 1972 epic on the origins of the U.S. war in Vietnam, the great journalist David Halberstam told of then-… Read More.

29 Mar 2014
The Spring of Shrinking Hopes

Joseph Napolitan, who essentially created the profession of campaign consultant and who departed these … Read More.

Time for Decent Exposure

Comment

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 experience. 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. The problem was not just that the married Profumo had been sleeping for two years with Keeler, but that Keeler, at the height of the Cold War, was simultaneously sleeping with the Soviet naval attache in London. The scandal ended Profumo's then-promising career and helped to bring down Harold Macmillan's Conservative government.

The next 40 years were one long act of personal contrition. The well-born Profumo worked with and for the poor. For four decades at Toynbee Hall, a refuge for the disadvantaged in East London, he was out of public sight. He washed dishes. He cleaned and scrubbed toilets. He helped feed the hungry. He visited prisoners in jail. He raised money to train youth. He used his remaining connections in Parliament to win greater support for housing and schools. And he never once, in all that time, had a press conference or a "media team" to tell us the good he had done or how much he had changed. That, Dear Readers, is called character.

To find out more about Mark Shields and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2014 MARK SHIELDS

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM



Comments

3 Comments | Post Comment
Sir;...We may think of people in powerful positions as powerful people... From my slight experience this is seldom the case... People cover their esses, and conceal their weaknesses... People do not seek powerful positions from strength of character; but out of weakness that they feel with a special intensity... All of us are strong; and all of us are weak... If we are not as strong as we need to be, we need to use our heads, or build a better tool box... To go for power in gross is a sad admission of failure in the game of life, like trying to steal first base after a strike out... These fools who get caught with their hands in the wrong pocket reveal what it is all about: Sex Appeal...It is illogical for so many to delegate their authority to so few, but consider how illogical it is to seek power for no better reason than the perqs... So people are not logical... Big surprise... We are illogical, willing to use logic only to the extent of reaching unreasonable goals... But; if you cannot reach those goals on your own muscle and intelligence, and need to appeal to others for help, and not to reach your unreasonable goals, to reach the reasonable goals they need to reach, that the politicians say can be reached... Behind it all is the need for power, and power because it is thought to be an aphrodesiac... Not every man is an Adonis... Not every man has the spin of Romeo, or the deep enchanting eyes of Dyonisus... If all men were so blessed they might realize all the power in the world is not worth an ounce of self control; as self control is freedom... Those who want power want only want to be masters where once they were slaves, because they are slaves to their passions, slaves to their unreasonable desires... Do politicians want to be loved??? Do they want to be adored??? What is love but adoration; and what do you do when you want to be adored and have no charms..For such men there is the business of money or political power...
I don't pretend to know anything about love, but I know it is the root of knowledge... When I consider how terrible my own love relationships are, how much they fail me, and I fail them; only then do I wish for some relationship with some one blind to my faults... Usually, I think if one relationship is bad, then why another no better... But consider what may be failing me is failing the country... What if our love politics is failing us as bad as our national and party politics... What if our politicians have lost the fine art of making a deal that will bed them with beauty just as they have lost the ability to reach an equitable accord??? Then, they would be bound to be found kissing in closets with clerks, the kitchen help, or any mean person who will yes to please... I can imagine having credit so bad with my love that she won't spare me the smallest respect... Consider how many politician there are who do not deserve an ounce of respect a two pennies a pound... No wonder they hit on anyone who looks like they will hit back...
Thanks... Sweeney
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Mon Apr 21, 2014 9:50 PM
Sir;... Forget the penance...The Greeks always tried their representatives after their terms of office... They let luck decide who would serve, but they got the final word on the quality of that service.. We elect fools, baboons, crooks and sexaholics who make us all look stupid for putting up with a system that gives so much power to so few people, and afterwords give them a pass... Instead of giving these people security, they ought to have nothing more than their own honor as their defense... They have privilage while in government, and should not resort to a defense of rights, but always stand metphorically naked before the public mirror...Power is not more madness than is pain... It is not more insanity than love, faith, or charity... It is not more crazy or criminal that unwarranted egoism... If these guys need a rubber room, or a prison cell; it would be best if they should get it before they stand for office... We have psychological tests that not one of these people in office could pass... Their one claim of virtue rests on the intelligence to not take psychological tests... Who wants such power over their fellows, or freedom from consequences but sociopaths... Where is the first politician in this country who can speak the truth or recognize truth when hearing it??? Government is fly paper for perverts and sugar for misfits...If we do not like the pests that office attracts, why not change the rules because together we can???
Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #2
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:11 PM
Sir;... Forget the penance...The Greeks always tried their representatives after their terms of office... They let luck decide who would serve, but they got the final word on the quality of that service.. We elect fools, baboons, crooks and sexaholics who make us all look stupid for putting up with a system that gives so much power to so few people, and afterwords give them a pass... Instead of giving these people security, they ought to have nothing more than their own honor as their defense... They have privilage while in government, and should not resort to a defense of rights, but always stand metphorically naked before the public mirror...Power is not more madness than is pain... It is not more insanity than love, faith, or charity... It is not more crazy or criminal that unwarranted egoism... If these guys need a rubber room, or a prison cell; it would be best if they should get it before they stand for office... We have psychological tests that not one of these people in office could pass... Their one claim of virtue rests on the intelligence to not take psychological tests... Who wants such power over their fellows, or freedom from consequences but sociopaths... Where is the first politician in this country who can speak the truth or recognize truth when hearing it??? Government is fly paper for perverts and sugar for misfits...If we do not like the pests that office attracts, why not change the rules because together we can???
Sir;...These people are elected on their honor to act with honor for us and in our stead... Imagine if they were Dr. Faustus, offered all that mephisto could render, and replied: And this is worth my eternal soul??? I once had a friend, now a Marine in Afghanistan who asked me for a letter of recommendation to the county sheriffs office... I could not... I would sooner buy a man a one way ticket to the mad house as help him into a job where he must begin each day with strapping on a pistol, and saying: Today I might take the life of a human being for some generally slight cause when I can never return it under the best of circumstances...Christians say the Lord's Prayer and ask God not to lead us into temptation and then for these orgies of power we elect mere lambs as though to slaughter...If you really care about some one; don't elect them, but help them avoid election...Elect people you already hate because they will be fit objects of hate afterwards for certain...
Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #3
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:42 PM
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