Eighty-three years ago, Aimee Semple McPherson, the founder of the Church of the Foursquare Gospel, went for a dip in the ocean in L.A., only to emerge a month later in the Mexican desert, looking the worse for wear, with a story about having been abducted. No corroboration of the story ever emerged. It was widely believed that she was covering up a love tryst with the engineer at her church’s radio station. The mystery has never been resolved.
Now Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), an adherent of McPherson’s denomination and pillar of the Far West division of Social Conservatism, has chosen to own up to a year-old affair with his former treasurer, for reasons that are no less mysterious. Yes, there has been a report that the mistress’ husband, also a sometime staffer, was seeking to blackmail him for hush money; but that has become less plausible with disclosure that the wayward senator has not asked either the local cops or the feds to investigate. The Las Vegas Sun, which splashes the mystery all over its front page today, reports that–stop the presses–Republican operatives believe Ensign may have a problem with “hypocrisy.” Sadly for them, what happens in the GOP stays not in the GOP.
Meanwhile, WaPo’s Dana Milbank goes to town with a religion-inflected account of his futile efforts to elicit comment on the story from Ensign’s peers in the world’s most august deliberative body. GOP senators have the Ensigns in their prayers; they are loving the sinner but not saying much about the sin. As for their Democratic counterparts, they have piously chosen not to comment on the speck in their neighbor’s eye.
The object of all the attention himself was on retreat and unavailable for no comment. Confession, of course, is good for the soul, but even the most rectitudinous politicians don’t make a habit of doing it in public for no apparent reason. As Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters, “I have plenty of sins, and I’m not going to tell you about them.”
There’s something here that doesn’t meet the eye. The size of a log.