Rob Port, my sometime colleague and head honcho of Say Anything, points out that ABC News has put out a slide show of political sex scandals, with Eliot Spitzer leading a bakers' dozen of bigwigs caught with their pants down. And as Rob notes, it's a wonderful opportunity to play "Name That Party!"
Here's a rundown of the disgraced pols, with party affiliations as ABC notes:
- Governor of New York State Eliot Spitzer(party unknown)
- Former Representative Mark Foley (R-FL)
- Former Representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA)
- Senator David Vitter (R-LA)
- Former Bush Administration Secretary of State Randall Tobias (party unknown)
- President Bill Clinton (party unknown)
- Former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey (party unknown)
- Senator Larry Craig (R-ID)
- Spokane, WA Mayor James West (party unknown)
- Representative Bob Livingston (R-LA)
- Representative Dan Crane (R-IL)
- Representative Gerry Studds (D-MA)
- Representative Wilbur Mills of Arkansas (party unknown)
(Note: I used the term "former" to denote those who resigned from office over the scandal.)
So, let's look at the numbers:
Identified Democrats: 1
Identified Republicans: 6
Unidentified Democrats: 4 (Spitzer, Clinton, McGreevey, Mills)
Unidentified Republicans: 1 (West)
Unclear: 1 (Tobias is probably a Republican, but not definitively)
Try as I might, I can't come up with a consistent, impartial rationale for why certain people got their affiliation listed, while others did not. Prominence -- i.e., "everyone knows what party they are with" -- doesn't fit, as I'd never heard of James West and had to double-check on Wilbur Mills, who's been out of the public spotlight far longer than Gerry Studds.
If I put on my cynical hat for a moment, though, it makes sense: "we'll identify all but the most obscure Republican by party, but we'll skip all the Democrats except one. And we'll make that one Studds, since his scandal is kinda sorta tied in with Dan Crane's, and we identify him, so if we say Studds was a Democrat, it'll look nice and balanced."
I also question the listing of Cunningham as a "sex scandal." Cunningham's corruption was all about the money; even the hookers were paid for by a defense contractor. The sex part was incidental, and it was his wallet -- and not anything else in his pants -- that put him so deservedly in prison. I'd have tossed in Mel Reynolds -- the former Representative (D-IL) who was convicted of sleeping with a 16-year-old campaign volunteer, went to prison, had his sentence commuted by President Bill Clinton (party unknown) (who had an affair with an unpaid intern) and then went to work for Jesse Jackson (who fathered a child on one of his charity's staff, and had his charity pay her handsomely).
But that would have made the partisan split almost balanced, and we can't have that, can we?