You would think the instincts that propel politicians to success also would instill in them some basic common sense. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way.
If members of Congress lack the good sense to read bills before voting on them, how can you be surprised when they get caught sending obscene photographs over the Internet to strangers they’ve never met?
That was Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner’s especial foible, but recent congressional history suggests neither he nor his political party have a monopoly on the stupidity and moral corruption that go together so well in Washington, D.C.
There is a spectacular recent history of Republican flameouts that includes such names as Chris Lee, Larry Craig, Ed Schrock and John Ensign, all now former members of Congress.
Perhaps we should take the recent rash of congressional exits-in-disgrace as a sign of an unmet need. Congressmen cannot be counted on to be honest or faithful. But maybe someone could help them by jotting down a few basic tips for making a life of tax-paid debauchery more manageable.
It would contain important lessons taken from recent members of Congress, luminaries such as Eric Massa and Mark Foley.
Of course, most ordinary people already know not to play “pile-on” or “tickle fight” with their employees, or to send salacious IMs to interns. But now, members of Congress will have a handy guide to remind them.
Some important caveats will apply especially to married men in political life:
- Don’t use campaign funds to pay off your mistress.
- Don’t call your mistress to bail you out of jail after a DUI arrest.
- Don’t appear in videos with your mistress promoting abstinence
To these classic admonitions, Weiner’s experience gives us a few more that apply to the unique
perversions of the digital age:
- Don’t ever take pictures of your private parts.
- In the event that you cannot resist the urge to take pictures of your private parts, don’t send them to strangers on the Internet.
- If, for some reason, you find yourself hitting “send,” first make sure you don’t hit the wrong button and accidentally send it to your 45,000 followers on Twitter.
- If, for some reason, you realize you just sent not-safe-for-work pictures of your anatomy to everyone in America, just fess up immediately. Don’t spend the next week acting like you were a victim of some dark conspiracy.
Unfortunately, by the time the average morally corrupt congressman reads this, he will have already broken one or more of these rules.
It could already be too late to save his soul — or, more importantly, his political career.
But at the very least, he can take a few steps to mitigate the damage.
There is an alternative. It’s called living a life you’re not ashamed of. It requires much less memorization of rules. But let’s be honest, it’s not something most politicians can probably handle.
Columnist David Freddoso is The Washington Examiner’s online opinion editor.