So the news of the day is that Rep. Mark Souder, conservative Republican from Indiana, is resigning because he has sex with one of his staffers. Normally, in my world, this would a be a whatever moment. Just another Holy Roller who got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, so to speak. But there are a few things about the Souder story that are interesting even to this jaded DC-ite.
No, it’s not that Souder was having sex with a staffer. And no, it’s not that her title is “Special Assistant/Communications”, tho I do find that to be a great title, albeit not knowing anything about her actual job.
Nope, for me, what is interesting is the way Souder talked about his resignation and transgression in a statement. He said:
“I sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff,” Mr. Souder said in a statement. “In the poisonous environment of Washington, D.C., any personal failing is seized upon, often twisted, for political gain. I am resigning rather than to put my family through that painful, drawn-out process.”
1 – What is a “mutual relationship” exactly? To me, this just says that they are both in a relationship, probably with each other. Beyond that, no clue. I’m pretty sure I am in the throws of many, MANY mutual relationships. Best I not tell HC. Particularly in my condition.
2 – Is it material that the woman he was in a “mutual relationship” with was a part-time employee? Does this somehow make her less of an employee and more of a Jezebel? I’m not clear, but I’m pretty sure that the woman’s part-time status does not change the schtupping part. But maybe I’m wrong.
3 – Souder says: “In the poisonous environment of Washington, D.C., any personal failing is seized upon, often twisted, for political gain.” Hmmm… While I will concede that the atmosphere in Washington has been toxic, I am not sure I see Souder’s point. The toxic atmosphere in Washington has more to do with hypocrisy and the attempts to take down a president for who he is and not what he does or believes in than it does with anything else. And perhaps the toxic atmosphere in Washington is flamed by the so-frequent-as-to-be-barely-newsworthy-anymore sex scandals like the one Souder finds himself in. And, he did still schtup the help. There’s nothing to twist. On the face of it, the story is easy and straight forward – another holier-than-thou proved that he, too, is just a run of the mill human being like the rest of us. I would welcome him to the fold if only he wasn’t trying to blame anyone else for his misgivings. Also, I don’t see what there is to gain politically. Sure, a Republican is stepping down and the could be helpful to the Democrats. But probably not – the seat will probably stay Republican. And this will be a news story for, like, a minute, so long as Souder doesn’t follow the path of Eric Massa or Mark Sanford, neither of whom could not stop talking about their transgressions and defied all logic to try to make it sound like they were the normal ones and we were all crazy. So long as Souder doesn’t do that, this story, too, will pass. Sadly, there are nothing but losers in this story, starting with Souder’s family for having to endure the public airing of this affair that took place with your Indiana staffer, presumably in Indiana. Not sure we can blame DC for that.
4 – Souder then says: “I am resigning rather than to put my family through that painful, drawn-out process.” As I said above, there are nothing but losers in this story. And make no mistake about it – this will be a painful, drawn-out process regardless of Souder’s employment status. Because here’s the thing – whether it’s happening in the public domain or behind closed doors, this sucks. It sucks for him, it sucks for the woman, and most of all, it sucks for their families, the innocent bystanders to a personal, albeit perfectly human, failing. Would it have been easier to deal with if one of these people were not in the public eye? Maybe, but not by much. The pain, the hurt, the betrayal, the loss, are all exactly the same.
5 – As a final point, this video discussing abstinence-only education featuring a mock interview between Souder and the part-time staffer in question is particularly, what’s the word… damning? Illustrative of Souder’s hypocrisy? Whatever it is, it’s good. I would like to comment on this video further – like asking what Souder knows about teaching morality, and how it is so easy for him to blame someone who is HIV-positive for his disease yet Souder himself is trying to pin his current indiscretion on an entire town 100s of miles away from where this all started – but I will refrain.