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“Holier Than Thou”: Alabama Governor Exposed As A Hypocrite

He won’t admit it, but Alabama Governor Robert Bentley pretty clearly had an affair with one of his top staffers. The best proof of this is an audiotape that just surfaced of Bentley and his chief adviser, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, having a very suggestive telephone conversation. The governor says he loves her, talks about locking the door if they’re going to repeat what they did yesterday, refers to touching her breasts, and more along the same lines. If this isn’t proof enough for you, the source of the tape is someone in Bentley’s family who suspected an affair was going on, and who took the tape to law enforcement in an effort to get Bentley to discontinue the affair. At the same time, in August 2014, Bentley’s wife of 50 years filed for divorce. Clearly she had all the proof she needed.

While rumors of an affair have swirled for a long time, it’s coming to light now because Bentley fired Alabama’s top police officer and this police officer immediately went to the press to argue that he had proof of the affair and that he had been fired for cooperating in an investigation of the Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives. He also accused the governor of misusing states funds to conduct and hide his affair.

So, aside from what one might think about adultery (Rebekah Caldwell Mason is married), there are some potential legal questions here.

Mainly, though, this is another example of hypocrisy. Gov. Bentley is a Deacon and Sunday School Teacher at the First Baptist Church of Tuscaloosa. He has served on the church’s Youth for Christ Advisory and Family Counseling Advisory boards. He was a 2009 recipient of the Christian Coalition of Alabama’s Statesmanship Award.

Back in January 2011, after he was elected but before he took office, Gov. Bentley spoke at Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church. What he said offended a lot of people.

“There may be some people here today who do not have living within them the Holy Spirit,” Bentley said. “But if you have been adopted in God’s family like I have, and like you have if you’re a Christian and if you’re saved, and the Holy Spirit lives within you just like the Holy Spirit lives within me, then you know what that makes? It makes you and me brothers. And it makes you and me brother and sister.”

Bentley added, “Now I will have to say that, if we don’t have the same daddy, we’re not brothers and sisters. So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I’m telling you, you’re not my brother and you’re not my sister, and I want to be your brother.”

Telling people who aren’t Christians that they aren’t your brothers and sisters seems pretty obnoxious but, Bentley tried to be reassuring, “We’re not trying to insult anybody.”

In any case, he strongly carved out the “Holier Than Thou” position and then proceeded to conduct an extramarital affair, possibly including the misuse of state funds, improperly tried to influence a corruption case against the Alabama Speaker, and he’s still lying about it.

He claims he acted inappropriately but he never had an actual physical relationship with his staffer.

No one believes him.


By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, March 24, 2016

March 25, 2016 Posted by | Adultery, Christians, Robert Bentley | , , , | Leave a comment

“Faith, Family And Libido”: Louisiana’s McAllister Says He’s ‘Fallen Short’

When politicians get caught in extra-marital dalliances, there’s usually a controversy that follows a predictable trajectory. There are the allegations, followed by denials, then apologies, all wrapped up in humiliation. These messes usually last several days, if not weeks.

Rep. Vance McAllister, a Louisiana Republican who’s only been in office for about five months, truncated the lifecycle considerably yesterday, going from revelation to contrition over the course of an afternoon.

A married House Republican, who ran on a devout Christian conservative platform, apologized Monday after a video surfaced that reportedly shows him kissing an aide.

“There’s no doubt I’ve fallen short and I’m asking for forgiveness. I’m asking for forgiveness from God, my wife, my kids, my staff, and my constituents who elected me to serve,” said Rep. Vance McAllister in a statement. “Trust is something I know has to be earned.” He added, “I promise to do everything I can to earn back the trust of everyone I’ve disappointed.”

The extra-marital romance was first uncovered by a local outlet, the Ouachita Citizen, which obtained a video of McAllister kissing an aide in his district office in late December – about a month after the congressman won a special election in his Louisiana district.

The exact nature of the relationship is unclear, but it’s worth noting that the aide was reportedly removed from the congressman’s payroll “during the past 24 hours.”

Complicating matters a little more, it appears the aide and her husband were generous McAllister campaign contributors.

As a general rule, I tend to believe these incidents are private matters, but the standards for scrutiny change when hypocrisy is involved.

For example, when Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) was caught hiring prostitutes, the political problem had less to do with his behavior and more to do with the fact that Vitter ran as a “family values” conservative, urging voters to elect him in part so he could champion traditional morality.

Personal mistakes are one thing; hypocrisy is something else.

McAllister, a married father of five, has a similar problem: “McAllister cited his faith, family and hard work in ads run during the campaign last year. His wife and kids were featured prominently in the ads as well.”

On his campaign issues page, the Republican puts “Faith and Family” on top, touting his family’s membership in a local Baptist church, and citing his values as an explanation for why he “opposes President Obama’s policies of bigger government.”

Looking ahead, the congressman will reportedly seek re-election. In the interim, it’s unclear if McAllister’s personal missteps will run afoul of the House GOP leadership’s “zero tolerance” policy on lawmakers and ethical lapses.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 8, 2014

April 9, 2014 Posted by | Conservatives, Family Values | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“It’s Not The Sex, It’s The Stupidity”: Anthony Weiner, Bob Filner And Eliot Spitzer Are Too Stupid For Politics

For a moment, leave aside your emotions. Forget the disgusting character of New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner’s sexting. Ignore the maddening hypocrisies attending New York City comptroller candidate Eliot Spitzer’s “Client 9” moniker. Dismiss the arrogance revealed in San Diego Mayor Bob Filner’s alleged sexual harassment.

Clearly, these men seem to have behaved deplorably – possibly even criminally. It’s perfectly fine to be angry, repulsed, and even transfixed by these outrageous scandals. Public servants are not supposed to do these types of things.

And while the media are not wrong for focusing on the shock-value side of these elected officials’ transgressions, the most relevant question to the public tends not to get answered: are these politicians just too dumb to be good at their jobs?

Politics requires perception and forethought. One must know the likely repercussions of one’s actions before doing them. One must know how others’ will receive their words before saying them. Understanding “cause and effect” is a necessary political skill.

Yet as someone who has spent more than a decade scientifically researching and writing on the electoral consequences of scandal, I’m still shocked by the glaring lack of judgment displayed by the politicians at the center of these ethical storms. It’s not just their immorality (infidelity, etc.), which most of them apologize for and suggest occurred because they were experiencing something akin to temporary insanity. It’s the fact that most of these politicians don’t even seem to notice that along with their flagrantly bad behavior, they’re also making such unbelievably stupid choices.

For instance, inventing the name Carlos Danger (Weiner’s alternate identity). Or George Fox (Spitzer’s alternate identity). Or allegedly requesting that a colleague “get naked” at work without wearing panties.

Really? Danger? Fox? Naked? These words alone should have clued these politicians into the possibility that they were engaging in activities that might have negative consequences.

And if they weren’t perceptive enough to realize this or they were too amused with their own assumed cleverness, then they’re too dense to be good politicians. Forgiving a moral failing is one thing, discounting political ineptitude is another thing entirely.

It’s the stupidity that’s scandalous and the most elementary reason why these politicians should not hold public office.


By: Lara Brown, U. S. News and World Report, July 24, 2013

July 25, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Remembering The Affair To Remember”: In New Bipartisan Spirit, Have Members Of Congress Tell Each Other About Their Affairs

It’s kind of nice to have Mark Sanford back.

Perhaps not if you’re from South Carolina. It is my strong impression that many South Carolinians are tired of their former governor, who so famously snuck off to Argentina for some extramarital recreation while his aides claimed he was camping on a national hiking path. A resident of Columbia, the state capital, told me that he had been in Peru, on a train to the legendary ruins of Machu Picchu, when a local resident asked him where he hailed from.

At the mention of the words “South Carolina,” the Peruvian nodded happily. “Appalachian Trail!” he cried.

After skulking around in political exile for several years, Sanford staged a sort of a comeback on Tuesday, winning the Republican nomination for his old House seat. It was a triumph of sorts, although one that only required defeating a former county legislator who did not live in the district, in a race that attracted the excited participation of about 10 percent of eligible citizens.

At his victory party, Sanford said the campaign had been “an amazing journey.” Since the great disaster of 2009, Sanford has taken to mentioning “this journey called life” rather frequently. Perhaps, in a perfect world, a guy who got in trouble for jetting off to assignations on the taxpayers’ dime would not focus quite so much on travel metaphors.

Sanford will now run against Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, a local businesswoman and sister of the comedian Stephen Colbert. She seems to be planning a deeply noncomedic campaign. But, still, hosting this race would be way more fun than being in Texas, wondering whether Rick Perry is going to run for a fourth — or is it fifth? — term.

Or in Tennessee, where lawmakers have just introduced bills to eliminate U.S. Senate primaries and let the state legislators pick the nominees. These new decision-makers would presumably include the members who recently expressed concern that the mop sink in a newly renovated Capitol men’s lavatory might actually be a special foot-washing facility for Muslims.

Or New York City, where a Democratic state senator has just been indicted on a charge of trying to bribe his way into the Republican nomination for mayor. Through the alleged services of a Republican city councilman, who has represented himself as a member of both the Tea Party and a tribe of Theodish pagans, making him what The Village Voice called “the first openly elected heathen in the nation.”

O.K., the heathen part was pretty good. However, dwelling on this story will only cause New Yorkers to revisit the fact that three of the last four full-time majority leaders of the New York State Senate have wound up under felony indictment.

I’d rather keep track of Mark Sanford’s evolution. So far, his spin strategy has been all about empathy and forgiveness. (“It’s only really in our brokenness that we really begin to understand each other.”) By the end of the primary, you had the impression that the key to a new bipartisan spirit in Washington would be having all the members of Congress tell each other about their affairs.

“There are too many people in politics who think that they know it all. And I think that they project this whole image of perfection,” he told Jake Tapper on CNN.

Not a problem here.

Since we last had Sanford to kick around, he’s been divorced and gotten engaged to the Argentinian squeeze. He virtually never mentions her and she barely got a shout-out on primary victory night. (“She completely surprised me,” claimed Sanford, who told Tapper that he just turned the corner on his way into the ballroom and there she was.)

His ex-wife, Jenny, has written a book about her marriage, and now South Carolinians know that Sanford is not just fiscally conservative; he’s also so personally cheap that he once gave his spouse a $25 used bicycle as a combined birthday-Christmas present. Also, there’s the revelation that he excused some of his mysterious absences from home by saying he needed to go off and relieve the stress he felt due to thinning hair.

Sanford has always had a terrible case of chronic self-absorption. Now that he’s talking about his feelings so much, it’s turned into a creepy New Age egomania. It began with his post-Appalachian-Trail press conference, when he rambled on and on about his love life as if the assembled reporters were best pals who’d invited him out for a drink. (“It was interesting how this thing has gone down. …”) More recently, according to New York magazine, he went to visit Jenny, who used to run his campaigns, and asked his still deeply estranged ex-spouse if she’d do another. “I could pay you this time,” he added empathetically.

Her refusal was probably a surprise. Like the victory night fiancée.


By: Gail Collins, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, April 3, 2013

April 5, 2013 Posted by | Congress | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Empathy For The Devil”: Mark Sanford Proudly Champions The Most Self-Righteous Instincts Of His Privileged Class

At New York Magazine, Jason Zengerle’s got a long article on Mark Sanford’s fall and rise, focusing on his very touchy relationship with his ex-wife Jenny, who could have easily preempted his comeback congressional campaign with one of her own, and could sink his today with a few tart words.

Reading the piece, I couldn’t help but marvel at what a relatively easy time Sanford has had recovering from such a spectacular implosion, spending his post-gubernatorial days “almost Thoreau-ing” on his family’s plantation, building a cottage to house his political memoranda, mulling life in the big picture and occasionally jetting off to New York or Miami or Buenos Aires to spend time with his lover (and eventually fiancee). If Sanford hit bottom or struggled through a Dark Night of the Soul, it was in considerable comfort. Nor did his first steps back involve community service or anything selfless at all:

After a year and a half, he left Coosaw [the plantation] and moved to an apartment in Charleston. He did some commercial-real-estate deals and joined a couple of corporate boards. He popped up on Fox News to offer some political analysis. Then last summer, he took the plunge and traveled to Tampa for the Republican National Convention.

But here’s the most revealing part of the story:

Empathy is a dominant theme of Sanford’s campaign, and it came up in my own conversations with him. “I would argue, and again I’m not recommending the curriculum to my worst enemy, but if one fails publicly at something, there’s a new level of empathy toward others that could not have been there before,” he told me.

When I asked Sanford how that new empathy had changed his views on public policy—whether it had made him, for instance, more inclined to support public-assistance programs he’s long denounced as unnecessary—he said it had not. “Convictions are convictions,” he explained. His empathy is for other public figures recovering from sex scandals and personal humiliations. “I used to open the paper and think, How did this person do that? Now it’s all, But by the grace of God go I.”

Unbelievable. Here’s this man who grew up on a plantation and married an heiress, and then presided over a state that is a living monument to inequality, proudly championing the most churlish and self-righteous instincts of its privileged classes. But his new empathy still extends no further than people just like him. And odds are he’s going to go back to Congress, where I suspect he will declare his rehabilitation complete.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, March 4, 2013

March 6, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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