If nothing else, we’ve learned over recent years that temptations of the flesh cut clean across the ideological and partisan divides. Indeed, in the past for all parties, the lurid sex scandal moment was usually a key point signaling the imminent fall of a long-entrenched political party. Think of the death of Tory MP Stephen Milligan who was found, dressed in woman’s clothes, dead from auto-erotic self-asphyxiation in 1994. And yet boffo Republican sex scandals keep coming fast and furious, even years after the party’s political collapse began in earnest in 2006.
That’s not to say that some high profile Dems haven’t been found Hiking the Appalachian Trail in recent years. John Edwards and Eliot Spitzer come immediately to mind.
But there’s just no denying that in the sex scandal derby Republicans are leaving Dems in the dust. Let’s run through the recent list — Foley, Craig, Vitter, Ensign, Sanford, Gibbons, Fossella, just to hit a few of the highlights. Who’m I missing?
What’s weird, again, is that the scandals, and not just the sex scandals or other hypocrisy-tinged scandals, but more importantly corruption have kept coming almost unabated for going on three years since Republicans were tossed out of power. Perhaps sex knoweth not majority status. But at least for scandals in general the normal model is that you get this stuff out of your party’s system in the final years of power, then sort of go a bit more low-key and leave it to the majority party to get arrogant, corpulent and crooked and start rolling out their own scandals.
Those are the rules after all. At least they used to be. (Another aspect of this is that a wave election usually brings in a handful of insufficiently-vetted freaks who flame out in pretty short order. But the Dems haven’t had much of that beside the guy down in Florida who replaced Foley.) Seeing the headlines you might think we were in the ‘last days’ phase of GOP hegemony. Only that was three and a half years ago.
I’m not sure if it’s an example of just how deep the rot ran or simply another sign that Republicans just don’t think the rules — of appropriate scandal timing, that is — apply to them.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.