Good News, Bad News in WaPo's Sex-Related Scandal Comparison

Noel Sheppard's post earlier yesterday on the Washington Post's surprising column by Paul Farhi, “The Redder They Are, The Harder They Fall; Republicans More Damaged by Scandals," expressed justifiable surprise that the Post would even address such a topic.

After all, it is remarkable that the Post would run any story comparing the disparate treatment Democrats have received at the hands of the press and their constituencies as a result of sex-related scandalous behavior compared to their Republican counterparts.

But upon further review, as surprising as Farhi's effort is, when you group all of the people identified in Farhi's article into categories by party and how they were treated, you realize that Farhi glossed over important elements relating to Democrats who were (eventually) punished, and you note at least two very, very glaring omissions.

Here is how those mentioned in Farhi's article break down:

Republicans whose personal sex-related scandalous behavior was exposed who resigned or did not run for reelection: Mark Foley (Congress - 2006), Bob Livingston (Congress/Speaker of the House Designate - 1998), Bob Packwood (Senate - 1995).

Republicans who lost subsequent reelection races or who ended political campaigns when personal sex-related scandalous behavior was exposed: Thomas Evans (Congress - 1982, lost in 1982); Bill Crane (Congress - 1983, lost in 1984); Jack Ryan (IL Gubernatorial Candidate - 2004, dropped out).

Republicans whose political careers survived personal sex-related scandalous behavior: NONE.

Democrats whose personal sex-related scandalous behavior was exposed who resigned or did not run for reelection: Wayne Hays (Congress - 1976); Wilbur Mills (mid-1970s, forced out of Way and Means Committee chairmanship, but was re-elected by voters after scandal exposed; did not run for re-election after "relapse"). (Aside: The WaPo article gives the casual reader the impression tha Mills resigned from office, but he never did. He only resigned from Ways and Means.)

Democrats who lost subsequent reelection race or who ended political campaigns when personal sex-related scandalous behavior was exposed: Gary Condit (Congress - 2002, but more because of his possible association with Chandra Levy's murder than the affair he may have had with her); Gary Hart (1988, but ONLY AFTER being rejected by New Hampshire primary voters).

Democrats whose political careers were uninterrupted despite personal sex-related scandalous behavior being exposed: Gary Studds (Congress - 1983; served until retirement in 1996); Barney Frank (Congress - 1985; still in Congress); Jim Bates (Congress - early 1990s; re-elected once); Bill Clinton (President - 1998-1999; despite impeachment for lying under oath and obstruction of justice, completed second presidential term).

Note that it has been more than 30 years since any Democrat has been forced to resign from office by his own party before actually being convicted of crime relating to personal sex-related scandalous behavior (Mills was asked to step down as Ways and Means Chairman, but he decided not to run for reelection after his "relapse"; Hays DID resign on September 1, 1976).

Not mentioned in the article (how convenient): Ted Kennedy (Senate - 1969; though obviously never proven, it is reasonable to believe, based on subsequent behavior, that he was having an affair with the drowned Mary Jo Kopechne); Mel Reynolds (Congress - 1995; resigned only AFTER he was convicted "on 12 counts of sexual assault, obstruction of justice and solicitation of child pornography").

So while it is some comfort that someone at the Post noted the glaring inconsistencies, its treatment was nowhere near as complete as it should have been. It also glosses over the fact that scandalized Democrats who left office, unlike Mark Foley, did so only after a great deal of kicking, screaming, and resistance.

Cross-posted, with some revisions, at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.