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Susan Estrich
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The Shirtless Congressman


At one level, it's astoundingly funny: a congressman telling a woman with whom he is flirting that the only picture he has of himself is shirtless. If there is one thing every congressman has, it is pictures of himself in a shirt. Often, stuffed.

So Rep. Chris Lee, a.k.a. the Shirtless Congressman, the married Republican flirt from upstate New York who resigned after the flirtee went public, was definitely stupid.

In addition to lying about his photo collection, he lied about his age (minus seven), his marital status (he claimed divorced) and his occupation (perhaps only in Washington would "lobbyist" be considered an attractive choice). He did all this in a series of flirtatious e-mails with a 34-year-old woman who placed a "woman looking for man" ad on Craigslist.

Compared to what some of my friends found when they placed similar ads or otherwise jumped into computer dating, I'd say she did rather well. I bet he even told the truth about his height. His real stupidity came in linking to his Facebook account and using his real name. In short, he lied, but not enough.

If it sounds like I'm making light of this, the truth is that I am. Mrs. Lee may not take well to it — caring for a 2-year-old while her husband acts like a teenager — but that, in my book, is very much between the two of them. Last time I checked, there were no laws against any of the things Lee did. No one was underage. She was advertising; he responded. They never actually did anything. The picture wasn't even pornographic.

He made an avatar of himself. The avatar Chris Lee flirted. He clearly wanted to be found attractive. Again, between husband and wife.

Hard as I might struggle to get on a high horse about Republican hypocrisy on matters of morality, I can't find the resignable offense here.

And yet I understand exactly why he immediately resigned. He was about to be eaten alive. Between understanding what's going on in Egypt and talking congressional sex, which do you think plays best on drive-time? Or cable? Or the tabloids? Or celebrity sites? Or opposition blogs? Etcetera.

It's not that any of those people actually think sending a shirtless picture is a high crime or misdemeanor or a betrayal of public trust, much less — horrors — grounds for losing their jobs. It's just that on Day 19, what could be a more welcome relief from the intractable problems of the world than making a flirtatious congressman the "turkey" of the day? By moving quickly and saying nothing, there is a chance he'll avoid an extended roasting.

The troubling part, from what I've read, is that Lee was actually a very good congressman, deeply involved in helping the families of the victims in an air crash in his own town, respected in the community, even "loved," according to press reports, which is saying a lot for a member of Congress these days. His career in public service is over not because he did anything that makes him unfit to serve. It's over because of the way the media writ large (I mean all of us) turn private mistakes into public firestorms far more threatening than the mistakes themselves.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



6 Comments | Post Comment

Susan Estrich writes: “So Rep. Chris Lee, a.k.a. the Shirtless Congressman, the married Republican flirt from upstate New York who resigned after the flirtee went public, was definitely stupid.”

. . . . “Hard as I might struggle to get on a high horse about Republican hypocrisy on matters of morality, I can't find the resignable offense here.” . . . .

. . . “And yet I understand exactly why he immediately resigned. He was about to be eaten alive.”
Ok, lets ignore the “cheap shot” (of which Susan claims she hates yet frequently uses) about “Republican hypocrisy” and take a look at “Democrat Hypocrisy” since we have decided to generalize a political party based on the actions of a few.

While I must to give Susan credit for not attacking Lee, she certainly is not coming to his defense. In stark contrast, when Clinton had his difficulties with Paula Jones, Juanita Broderick, Kathleen Willey, Monica Lewinksy, et al., Estrich rallied to his defense. Susan was not the only one either as the liberal media, the same media that was going to “eat Lee alive”, ran cover for Bill Clinton. Evan Thomas, Newsweek's Washington bureau chief, noted that he had known about the Bill Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky for a year and sat on it because they didn't think it was newsworthy. The Drudge Report had to break the story.

I submit that there is no origination on this planet that is more dishonorable than the liberal, government run media.

But such is not surprising when one considers that the liberal government run media employs mostly liberal Democrats and considering the lack of integrity of the Democrat Party in general. In fact, by way of example, there is no better place to look for dishonor than the feminist movement (an arm of the Democrat Party), which is clearly a movement based on lies and generally dishonorable “behavior”. When it comes to a Democrat, and more specifically, Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, womanizing is acceptable. Indeed, when Monica Lewinsky showed her thong to the president, party-line feminists were saying it was condescending to women to view her as a victim.

Similarly, when it is a Democrat or liberal on the hot seat, Susan notes that it seems to her to be at least a legitimate matter of debate whether the press corps should be in the business of reporting the private sex lives of public officials. Even Gloria Steinem's authored an op-ed in the New York Times defending Clinton against Kathleen Willey. Such was in stark contrast to their attacks on Republicans or conservatives such Clarence Thomas and Bob Packwood (remember him).

When it came to Bill Clinton, according to Susan, the main question was “should the public know about every political leader having an affair”? Restated, the private sex lives of Democrats are not important, only the private sex lives of Republicans.

We all know the above is true and that Democrats are hypocrites without honor, such is not in dispute. The problem is that such people will be dishonest about any issue as we humans are typically consistent in their behavior.

The big goals of the Democrats is as follows: (a) raise taxes, (b) increase government spending, (c) transfer America's manufacturing base to needy foreign countries, (d) legitimize sexual deviancy for Democrats, (e) sissify the military, (f) foster class warfare, (g) defend racial discrimination against people of non-color, (h) defend and promote infanticide, (i) expand benefits for illegal aliens, (j) blame violence on inanimate objects or Republicans or conservatives or the tea party or Sarah Palin or all of the above, (k) recruit illegal aliens to the Democrat Party, (l) confiscate private property, (m) deny parents the right to choose schools for their children, (n) return California and Texas to Mexico, (o) socialize medicine, (p) sell nuclear secrets to China, (q) criminalize 'incorrect' thought, and (r) use the United Nations to teach Third World countries the joys of wholesale abortions.

Restated, the principle feature of American liberalism is sanctimoniousness. By loudly denouncing all bad things-war and hunger and date rape-liberals testify to their own terrific goodness. More important, they promote themselves to membership in a self-selecting elite of those who care deeply about such things (with their little ribbons proving such to be true) . . . . It's a kind of natural aristocracy, and the wonderful thing about this aristocracy is that you don't have to be brave, smart, strong or even lucky to join it, you just have to be liberal.

The problem is, if one would put the Obama Administration in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand. How does one believe any of the above goals will turn out for our country?

Americans who value freedom had better be more concerned about the Neo-Totalitarians (“liberals”) than are about criminals. The criminals want your money. The Neo-Totalitarians want your Freedom.

Finally, to be fair to Susan Estrich, she does seem to be one of the more logically consistent of feminist and at least has a sense of humor.

Comment: #1
Posted by: SusansMirror
Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:27 PM
Well that about sums it up. Good job Susan's, but in this case I think I reflect a whole lot more towards the way of Mirror, than to Estrich. (pun intended)
Comment: #2
Posted by: political_sense
Thu Feb 10, 2011 11:12 PM
It is better for the Congressman to leave, whether he was good at his job or not. The media would not let it be a private matter between husband and wife and it would be a distraction from the serious problems in this country. Maybe a few others should follow his lead.
Comment: #3
Posted by: jbaugher
Fri Feb 11, 2011 4:11 AM
It's not a Democrat or Republican thing. We all committ immoral acts, it's human to be imperfect. Some people can fight off evil better than others. Clinton and Lee are exceptions.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Early
Fri Feb 11, 2011 5:40 AM
What is rapidly becoming obvious about Estrich's writings are the opportunities given to SusansMirror to respond and to successfully debunk the liberal elitism, liberal self agrandizing and liberal hyocrisy that underpins the vast majority of those writings. SusansMirror, I could not agree more.
Comment: #5
Posted by: joseph wright
Fri Feb 11, 2011 10:51 AM
Maybe Susan is playing down the the political importance of this situation is the fact that the Craigslist woman Ad. placer in this case was Black.
Comment: #6
Posted by: mjayr1
Tue Feb 15, 2011 4:29 PM
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