The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Dear GOP: No Zipper Problems, Please

Posted on | March 12, 2018 | No Comments

Last week, I got a phone call from a reporter, asking if I had contact information for a certain conservative woman. No, I did not, but the request aroused my curiosity — what’s a journalist, if not curious? — and after a bit of badgering, the reporter disclosed to me that he had obtained screen caps of text messages between this woman and a certain conservative man. Because I obtained this information under promise of confidentiality, I can’t disclose any more than this and, of course, it may be that the reporter’s inquiries will not produce an actual story.

While I cannot discuss this case specifically, however, I can articulate a general principle: If you are a conservative in public life — especially if you are a Republican politician — you have an obligation to avoid any behavior that might become a sex scandal. Or to put it another way, if you have a “zipper problem” (i.e., you’re unable to resist sexual temptation) probably you should not get into politics as a Republican.

The GOP has long suffered from a reputation as a stuffy bunch of puritanical prudes — the “No Fun Allowed” party. This was never entirely accurate, even during the heyday of the Christian Coalition, but it was exploited by Democrats who sought to create the impression (especially among young people) that Republicans were the “anti-sex” party.

Two decades after the Lewinsky scandal, however, Democrats now have a new propaganda theme: Republicans are the party of “rape culture.”

The #MeToo crusade, which took down Hollywood scumbags like Harvey Weinstein, was inspired by the rage of feminists toward Donald Trump, whose reputation as a womanizer — “grab ’em” by the you-know-what — was perceived as a vulnerability by Democrat strategists. So we might say that Weinstein and other celebrity scumbags (nearly all of whom were liberal Democrats) were destroyed as “battlespace preparation” for future efforts by Democrats to exploit feminism’s anti-Trump rage.

No one can go back in time and change the events of their past, and if any Republican politician or conservative spokesman has skeletons rattling around in his closet, well, that can’t be helped. On the other hand, we can say that concern for such issues is justified in an environment where Democrats (a) are eager to expose GOP sex scandals and (b) will be assisted by the liberal media in publicizing such scandals. And young people considering careers in conservative politics need to be advised to avoid behavior that might give their enemies ammunition with which to destroy or discredit them. Particularly in the era of online dating, social media and smartphones, prudence suggests that those who seek to enter the arena of politics ought to be discreet in their personal lives.

Ah, but what does “discretion” mean in the digital age? A man might believe there is no harm in exchanging flirty text messages with a woman who seems to be flattered by his attention, but we have seen (e.g., in the case of Texas Rep. Joe Barton) how easily men can be blackmailed by their formerly “consenting adult” partners. Indeed, some have perceived in such #MeToo revelations an element of “revenge porn.”

We are now less than eight months away from the midterm elections, and it certainly behooves Republicans to be on their best behavior. Otherwise, they will make it too easy for the liberal media to unleash a tsunami of coverage of GOP sex scandals. Is an overwhelming flood of such stories in the works? Was the phone call I got last week just the tip of an iceberg of journalistic inquiries into alleged misbehavior by conservatives and GOP politicians? Honestly, I don’t know, but it pays to be careful.

The Mike Pence rule is looking smarter every day.