In case you’ve missed it, the biggest political story of the last 24 hours has clearly been Senator John Ensign’s (R-NV) confession that he had an affair with one of his married campaign staffers:
Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) has acknowledged an extramarital affair with a campaign staffer in a statement released by his office. “I deeply regret and am very sorry for my actions,” said Ensign. He is expected to announce the affair at a press conference at 6:30 pm tonight. The affair, which was with a woman who worked for both Ensign’s re-election campaign and his Battle Born leadership political action committee
But the aspect of the story that REALLY makes this political drama interesting is that I worked for Senator Ensign’s re-election campaign during the time in question and knew the woman he cheated with.
But wait…it gets better. According to MSNBC and Politico, the reason Ensign disclosed his affair is because the husband of the women involved tried to blackmail him for a large sum of money. Yes, that’s some good ole fashion extortion right there.
And yet, despite all of the press coverage, there’s one angle that’s being overlooked by all of the media outlets. Not only is the couple involved in the affair/alleged blackmail close and personal friends of the Ensign family, they’re arguably even close to top Republican strategist couple Mike and Lindsey Slanker, the brains and brawn behind Senator Ensign’s political apparatus. It remains to be seen which side the Slanker’s take, but any schism between the two sides could have drastic repercussions for the Republican party.
But, what we do know is that Ensign’s confession will no doubt have major repercussions on the landscape for the 2012 presidential election.
To Run or Not To Run?
Before word broke of an alleged extortion scheme, the prevailing wisdom believed that Ensign’s seemingly random admission of guilt was an attempt to air out his dirty laundry well in advance of a potential campaign for the Republican party’s presidential nomination. But with new information coming to the forefront, no one knows for sure if Senator Ensign will make a 2012 run.
One thing’s for certain. 2012 is a long ways away and no one knows what the political landscape will be like then. Personally, I don’t think Senator Ensign’s confession will harm his political standing one way or another. People have short term political memories. And when it comes to “unimportant” conservative issues like family values, Conservatives have historically been more than willing to self rationalize forgiveness. Of course, this is only if you’re a Republican and not at all Bill Clinton.
Do As I Say Not What I Do
Though the more curious point that needs to be made is how any person could claim to hold integrity when their current actions oh so clearly violate their past statements. Personally, I believe a politician’s private life is private. As long as there’s two consenting adults there its none of my business what you’re doing in a relationship. But when you run on a socially conservative platform that stresses the values of the family, when you jihad against providing same sex couples with equality under the law, and when you stand on the biggest soapbox you can to routinely criticize other politicians for marriage infidelity, even going as far to demand their resignation, how can you with good faith, postulate your supposed moral authority?
In short, you can’t.