Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Is It Really a Scandal?

The news is full of stories about the latest political "sex scandal" of the day.

Yesterday, Nevada Republican Senator John Ensign publicly admitted to having an extramarital affair while legally separated from his wife. His admission was accompanied by the usual insincere, crocodile tears statement:

"Last year I had an affair. I violated the vows of my marriage. It is the worst thing I have ever done in my life
," Ensign said.

Spare me the treacly fake remorse, Even among many of those who are much less permissive about sexual matters than I am, having a relationship while legally separates isn't identical to having an extra-marital affair while in an ongoing intact marriage. Though one is technically "still married" when separated and the law would consider it adultery, the de facto reality is that it has already been acknowledged that the marriage has broken down and that divorce is soon likely to occur. To remain "faithful" to a broken marriage is merely to perpetuate a useless fiction.

The man was separated. Obviously, he's not going to be able to get any from his wife. Is he expected to remain celibate while in marital limbo? I think most people would agree with me that this is an unreasonable expectation in modern society.

As sex scandals usually go, this one is pretty tame. He didn't solicit a partner in a men's room, like Larry Craig, nor did he run around on a sick wife, as did Newt Gingrich, John Edwards, and John McCain, nor did visit a sex worker, a la David Vitter.

But like Gingrich, Craig, and Vitter, he is guilty of rampant hypocrisy. Like these men, he is a social conservative, who has made many judgmental statements about the decline of "traditional" marriage, and is a member of the Christian conservative group, Promise Keepers.

But hypocrisy is nothing new in Washington.

This latest sex brouhaha doesn't rate more than a loud yawn from me.

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