South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and Political Operative Corey Lewandowski
It used to be that mistakes were followed by contrition, personal accountability, and some evidence of change. Somewhere along the line, brazen shamelessness became a badge of honor.
This week, a series of stories got me thinking that a little shame in politics wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
Early in the week, news broke that Susanna Gibson, a candidate for a competitive State House seat in Virginia that could decide the balance of power in the chamber, had made and sold for “tips” pornographic material with her husband online.
In the past, such a revelation might have sent a candidate to hide under a rock. Gibson, instead, accused her opponent of “gutter politics” and suggested that the exposure of the videos that she chose to make, and make public, violated Virginia’s prohibition of “revenge pornography.”
Revenge porn laws tend to apply to the unauthorized release of private content, not to when someone points out something you publicly released yourself.
Gibson described the exposure of her publicly made sex acts as “an illegal invasion of my privacy designed to humiliate me and my family.” It’s possible she should have considered the possibility that making the content could humiliate her and her family.
There are serious questions about how the media handled Gibson’s story. Accusations have been made that the Associated Press was alerted to the videos on September 4th, but instead of reporting the story, told Gibson, who had the videos taken down. The Associated Press did not report on the story until September 12th, after others had already broken it.
Others in the media have sprung to Gibson’s defense, suggesting criticism of her for engaging in public sex acts is evidence of misogyny in our society. Perhaps. Or perhaps the sane remnant in our country just does not think it is becoming of an aspiring elected official to model and normalize the public selling of sex acts. I’ll let people decide for themselves.
Meanwhile, in Colorado, Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, recently freed from the bonds of matrimony, spent a night out on the town with her new beau. The pair attended a production of the musical Beetlejuice. Their rowdyness ultimately prompted being asked to leave mid-show.
In video of the incident, Boebert can be seen vaping indoors, taking flash photography during the show, and engaging in what can only be described as extremely heavy “petting” with her male companion. Children were present. While, in my opinion, this is not on the level of streaming pornographic acts, it does evince gross immaturity for a 36-year old Congresswoman.
Boebert, to her credit, has apologized, but only after video was released disproving her original denial.
Finally, news broke Friday of an alleged multi-year, public affair between the Republican governor of South Dakota, Kristi Noem, and perennial Trump hanger on, Corey Lewandowski. Both Noem and Lewandowski are married with children. Multiple sources indicated the two made little effort to cover up their dalliance, pointing to blatant public displays of affection.
Included in the bizarre account of their trist was an allegation that Lewandowski attempted to seduce a donor’s wife by telling her he had killed people in the past. You know, because nothing revs an engine like being told that your suitor is a murderer.
Boebert, Noem, and Lewandowski have all been outspoken advocates for faith and traditional family values. Their seeming hypocrisy has been pilloried across social media platforms. It candidly, is further evidence–as if more was needed–that conservatives should be careful who we choose to elevate as role models.
Even with better discernment, though, people make mistakes. They are due some grace. But it used to be that mistakes were followed by contrition, personal accountability, and some evidence of change. What Christians call “repentance.” Somewhere along the line, brazen shamelessness became a badge of honor. The more overt the transgression, the more authentic the “fighter.”
The consequence of overlooking bad behavior because the transgressor is on our “team,” whether that team is red or blue, is a proliferation of bad behavior and a weakening of an already delicate social fabric.
Call me old fashioned, but the people who represent us should be held to a higher standard. They should model integrity, restraint, and moral prudence. And when they stumble in a way that causes others to stumble, or in a way that damages the reputation of their own cause, they should own it.
A little shame would not hurt.