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Strange Bedfellows Indeed; Family Values Deviants

That mantra of ‘Family Values’ is presently old hat, but for the days it reigned, it seems to have presented an ideal cover for sexual deviancy for its adherents. Thanks, Ginni Thomas, for reminding us of the integral role of sexually inappropriate behavior in the right wing.

Family values jurist Clarence Thomas, we are reminded, felt his power was sufficient – seemingly – to torment fellow worker Anita Hill with sexual overtures. Allegations that were serious enough to drag Dr. Hill before the Senate Judiciary Committee were never proven, nor disproven. Now, his wife has wrapped herself in the anti-law antics of the Teabaggage and wants to wipe that record clean by pressuring the victim to clear up that old blemish by an apology that Thomas’ former aide finds unwarranted.

In a voice mail message left at 7:31 a.m. on Oct. 9, a Saturday, Virginia Thomas asked her husband’s former aide-turned-adversary to make amends. Ms. Hill played the recording, from her voice mail at Brandeis University, for The New York Times.

“Good morning Anita Hill, it’s Ginni Thomas,” it said. “I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband.”

Ms. Thomas went on: “So give it some thought. And certainly pray about this and hope that one day you will help us understand why you did what you did. O.K., have a good day.” …In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ms. Hill claimed that Mr. Thomas had repeatedly made inappropriate sexual comments to her in the workplace, including descriptions of pornographic films. Mr. Thomas denied the allegations and called them “a high-tech lynching.”

Oh, yes, and the rest of that statement was “of an uppity black.” Yes, that Supreme, the one who attends political conferences sponsored by the Koch right wing proponents, and most intimately involved with Teabaggage. Of course, any such statement from President Obama would immediately be labeled as playing the race card. Different strokes, anyone? What was styled as tough, ignoring the polls, when the worst president ever did stuff like lie about WMD and go to war, is now called Big Government, overriding public wishes, by providing health care.

Inconveniently enough, Thomas’ one-time girlfriend McEwen, is confirming Hill’s statements, that Thomas was a pornography consumer and often talked about it. Over her long relationship with him, she observed that she found the discussion of pornography boring, and now finds his values harmful.  . . .

"I have no hostility toward him," McEwen said. "It is just that he has manufactured a different reality over time. That’s the problem that he has." ‘

Those family values, they wrap around a whole lot of baggage. You wonder if it’s part of the drill, an official kind of costume, or immunization, for the deviant from acceptable behavior. As I learned when working in a church office a few years back, those who choose to work with the young and impressionable are going to include those with intentions other than pure ones. Recently, Bishop Eddie Long has been thrown into the light for abuse charges from several young boys who started as spiritual proteges.

The entire Catholic church, of course, is suffering the aftermath of a long history of priests who dedicated themselves to far other principals and practices than they professed to follow.

Another example of right wing Family Values proponents was Congressman Mark Foley.

In the House, Foley was one of the foremost opponents of child pornography. Foley had served as chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children. He introduced a bill, coined the "Child Modeling Exploitation Prevention Act of 2002" to outlaw web sites featuring sexually suggestive images of preteen children, saying that “these websites are nothing more than a fix for pedophiles.” …On September 28, 2006, ABC News Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross reported that, in 2005, Foley had sent email messages from his personal AOL account to a former Congressional page, asking the page to send a photo of himself to Foley, among other things. …Foley said in a statement, “I am deeply sorry and I apologize for letting down my family and the people of Florida I have had the privilege to represent.” …More pages came forward, alleging a history of inappropriate conduct by Foley dating back at least 10 years…Florida officials have closed the investigation of Foley, stating they found "insufficient evidence" to file criminal charges, since the page was over the age of 18.

That former Congressman was the strangest of bedfellows, even if it was only in his mind – that we actually know of.

C Street Family entertainment included unacknowledged parlor games with mistresses for its members, whose public face was one of self-styled Family Values. Several of the members of that community of the outwardly pious included those who strayed really far afield from the Family Values they extolled.

It blends into the streetscape, tucked behind the Library of Congress, a few steps from the Cannon House Office Building, a few more steps to the Capitol. This is just the way its residents want it to be. Almost invisible.

But through one week’s events, this stately old pad – a pile of sturdy brick that once housed a convent – has become the very nexus of American scandal, a curious marker in the gallery of capital shame. Mark Sanford, South Carolina’s disgraced Republican governor and a former congressman, looked here for answers – for support, for the word of God – as his marriage crumbled over his affair with an Argentine woman. John Ensign, the senator from Nevada who just seven days earlier also was forced to admit a career-shattering affair, lives there.

"C Street," Sanford said Wednesday during his diffuse, cryptic, utterly arresting confessional news conference, is where congressmen faced "hard questions."

On any given day, the rowhouse at 133 C St. SE – well-appointed, with American flag flying, white-and-green-trimmed windows and a pleasant garden – fills with talk of power and the Lord…Residents include Reps. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.), Ensign and Coburn.

This year yet another episode of strange bedfellows turned up the example of publicly straight arrow, Rep. Mark Souder,in May 2010,

Every time a conservative Republican gets caught up in a sex scandal, it carries a little extra punch — the GOP, after all, claims the moral high ground as the party of "family values" — but Souder’s scandal is especially humiliating. The Indiana Republican, after all, has made the "fight to uphold traditional values" the centerpiece of his professional life. His official website declares, "The family plays a fundamental role in our society…. I am committed to preserving traditional marriage, the union of one man and one woman… I am committed to fighting the assault on American values." Souder has been especially active in fighting against gay rights and for abstinence-only funding.


At this point, Souder is quitting Congress altogether, not just announcing his retirement. The timing is a little awkward for the Indiana GOP — Souder just won a tough primary two weeks ago — but Dave Weigel has heard that Hoosier Republicans can replace Souder on the ballot when the state party hosts its convention in mid-June.

But then there’s the larger context: those "family-values" Republicans sure do have a lot of sex scandals, don’t they? It’s getting difficult to keep track of them all. Souder is the newest, but his humiliation comes on the heels of Sen. John Ensign’s (R-Nev.) scandal. That came to light around the same time as Gov. Mark Sanford’s (R-S.C.) sex scandal, which came soon after Gov. Jim Gibbons (R-Nev.), which itself followed Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho).

If we look back a little further, we also find disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani. If go back a little more, names like Vito Fossella, Tim Hutchinson, Henry Hyde, Dan Burton, and Bob Livingston also come to mind. And those are just the office-holders.

Family Values, the pose, holds a great attraction for deviants from acceptable behavior, it would appear. Of course, unwilling straights and straying husbands/fathers and even pedophiles, are not found only within the ranks of those who proclaim they practice an entirely opposite sort of ethics. Gary Hart’s taunt to the press, that they would only be bored to follow him all the time, brought down that potential presidency amazingly fast. Bootsie Mandel got to play to the footlights from inside the Governor’s mansion, when her husband Marvin Mandel, the Governor, got caught cheating.

The public figure affecting a stance of great virtue makes antics they condemn actually revolting, though, because of the total hypocrisy.

Without standards to violate, the thrill of getting by with stomping on your own public image, would it be so thrilling? I leave that for those with degrees in behavior sciences that I don’t have. I also don’t care for the limelight, though, and am not at all a gambler…so maybe I’m just not having fun yet. But now, after wading through some of the public spectacles we’ve watched from Family Values pretenders, I do want a good, hot shower.

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Ruth Calvo

Ruth Calvo

I've blogged at The Seminal for about two years, was at cabdrollery for around three. I live in N.TX., worked for Sen.Yarborough of TX after graduation from Wellesley, went on to receive award in playwriting, served on MD Arts Council after award, then managed a few campaigns in MD and served as assistant to a member of the MD House for several years, have worked in legal offices and written for magazines, now am retired but addicted to politics, and join gladly in promoting liberals and liberal policies.