Politicians behaving badly (again)

    I recognize that singling out politicians for bad behavior is a bit like ticketing speeders at the Indy 500, but sometimes the temptation is simply irresistible. Here’s my current quintet.

    Fourth-runner up: Ben Quayle. The 33-year-old son of former vice president Dan Quayle has cut quite a swath as a Republican congressional candidate in Arizona. It’d be easy to joke that the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree, but that would also be wrong; when measured against his offspring, Dan was a veritable cornucopia of fruit. Young Ben’s bid for office as a family-values conservative hit a snag the other day when he was outed as a creator of a sex-themed website called Dirty Scottsdale. Ben at first denied playing any such role; then he switched gears and confessed that he had “just posted comments to drive some traffic.” His co-creator said that Ben had posted under the name Brock Landers (a porn character in the film Boogie Nights). I am reluctant to quote the “Brock” posts, which talk about things like “foxy ladies” and “butt floss,” so I’ll leave it at that.

    Ben Quayle has tried to trump the Dirty Scottsdale story, and shore up his family values image, by sending out two mailers that feature wife Tiffany and two kids (“Tiffany and I live in this district and are going to raise our family here”). Only one problem: Ben doesn’t have any kids. Turns out, the kids in the mailers were on loan. They are Ben’s nieces. A Quayle spokesman explained that they were chosen because they’re “terribly cute.” Or, as Brock Landers might call them, “foxy.”

    I recognize that singling out politicians for bad behavior is a bit like ticketing speeders at the Indy 500, but sometimes the temptation is simply irresistible. Here’s my current quintet.

    Fourth-runner up: Ben Quayle. The 33-year-old son of former vice president Dan Quayle has cut quite a swath as a Republican congressional candidate in Arizona. It’d be easy to joke that the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree, but that would also be wrong; when measured against his offspring, Dan was a veritable cornucopia of fruit. Young Ben’s bid for office as a family-values conservative hit a snag the other day when he was outed as a creator of a sex-themed website called Dirty Scottsdale. Ben at first denied playing any such role; then he switched gears and confessed that he had “just posted comments to drive some traffic.” His co-creator said that Ben had posted under the name Brock Landers (a porn character in the film Boogie Nights). I am reluctant to quote the “Brock” posts, which talk about things like “foxy ladies” and “butt floss,” so I’ll leave it at that.

    Ben Quayle has tried to trump the Dirty Scottsdale story, and shore up his family values image, by sending out two mailers that feature wife Tiffany and two kids (“Tiffany and I live in this district and are going to raise our family here”). Only one problem: Ben doesn’t have any kids. Turns out, the kids in the mailers were on loan. They are Ben’s nieces. A Quayle spokesman explained that they were chosen because they’re “terribly cute.” Or, as Brock Landers might call them, “foxy.”

    Third runner up: John Ensign. Nevada’s Republican “family values” senator has been on the griddle for the past 14 months, ever since he publicly confessed to having repeatedly bedded the wife of his chief of staff. He fired both spouses, and got his rich father to write them a check for $96,000. He then tried to set up the cuckolded husband with a lobbying business that would lobby his own Senate office, in apparent violation of federal law; that’s why Ensign is currently being investigated by the Justice Department and the Senate Ethics Committee.

    Ensign is on today’s list because he just sent out a letter asking his donors to pay his legal bills. He’s seeking $10,000 a pop. His basic pitch – big surprise here – is that the “liberals” are out to frame him for “things I absolutely did not do.” He’s particularly peeved at a watchdog group – Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington – that filed an ethics complaint against him. In the money-raising letter, he assails CREW as a “liberal organization,” which, in his mind, is apparently a pejorative. The truth, actually, is that CREW fires in all directions. On its website, CREW currently lists its “15 Most Corrupt Members of Congress” – and eight of them are Democrats.

    It’s doubtful that the senator’s letter will yield much bounty. At last glance, his legal-defense fund had just $10 in the til. That’s no misprint. Care to guess who the donor was? John Ensign.

    Second runner-up: Alvin Greene. No list like this would be complete without Alvin Greene. The surprise South Carolina Democratic senatorial candidate was weird to begin with, having won his party’s nomination earlier this summer despite having no job, no money, no staff, and no life. It sounds like a Frank Capra movie, if not for the fact that Greene had also been arrested last autumn for approaching a college coed, showing her porn, and trying to talk his way into her dorm room.

    The indictment was announced last week – a felony charge and a misdemeanor charge; if convicted on both, Greene could face up to eight years in the slammer – and when the press came to his door over the weekend, he offered this eloquent response: “Go away.” Then, when the press tried to interview his brother, out on the front lawn, the Democratic candidate for the U. S Senate could be heard howling in a falsetto at the window, “Nooooooo! Gooooooo!”

    It would appear that Alvin Greene is a long shot to replicate the electoral success of James Michael Curley, the Boston mayor who won re-election in 1945 despite two indictments for influence peddling and mail fraud.

    First runner-up: Harry Reid. Yesterday, the Senate’s top Democrat crumpled like a tent in the wind. In a statement released by his spokesman, Reid broke with President Obama on the Islamic community center flap in Lower Manhattan: “The First Amendment protects freedom of religion. Senator Reid respects that, but thinks that the mosque should be built some place else.”

    And where, pray tell, is “some place else?” The statement doesn’t specify a preferred longitude and latitude. Would four blocks from Ground Zero be acceptable to Reid? Six? Ten? At what point of distance does he believe the First Amendment should apply?

    Most importantly, his cave is a gift to Republicans, who now have fresh impetus to fan the flames by demanding that every Senate Democratic candidate choose between their president and their majority leader. As Richie Ashburn used to say to his booth mate at Phillies games, “Hard to believe, Harry.”

    First prize winner: Actually, it’s a tie between Keith Halloran, a Democratic candidate for the New Hampshire state legislature, and Timothy Horrigan, a Democratic New Hampshire legislator. It’s bad enough, in our hyper-partisan culture, that people openly pine for the deaths of politicians with whom they disagree; it’s even worse that our instant digital world affords so many opportunities for sociopathic spontaneity – and that politicians who should know better now seem anxious to indulge.

    Early last week, former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens died in a plane crash; within hours, on Facebook (naturally), candidate Halloran typed: “Just wish Sarah and Levy were on board.” (Um. The correct spelling is Levi.) Lawmaker Corrigan spotted that death wish on Facebook, and proceeded to type some sage political analysis of his own: “if she was dead she cldn’t commit any more gaffes.”

    Halloran later apologized, and Corrigan resigned his seat. Wait…could this perhaps be the start of a counter-trend? Are we now on the verge of a new accountability era, where people will rediscover the virtues of reticence? Where they will heretofore indulge their most vile thoughts only while soaping themselves in the shower?

    Nah.

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