With the Oregonian story last night, what I have been talking about for a couple of months is starting to come to light. In this article I talked about Moral Purity. Some thought I was a bit crazy. Let's go back and recap and look at this situation.
Rep. Matt Wingard had a sexual relationship with an aide. Wherever your moral compass is, that was wrong and even he has admitted so. Was there more to that story? Only he, the other parties involved and perhaps House GOP leaders know. When he was not asked to resign from his position I found it strange. I found it strange that the "investigation" took at least two months. Now of course we know that Wingard was "holding a bomb" over the GOP leadership in the form of the strip club story, he was in fact "blackmailing" leadership. (I tried to warn folks that this was coming but it fell on deaf ears, I pray that my warnings this time, in this article will be heard). What other "bombs" might there be? And let me just take a moment to address something here. There are still some very uniformed people on the radio and elsewhere who do NOT get it. They still see a "vendetta" by a couple. Question: did that "couple from another county" force the representatives to go to the strip club too? Did that couple bring underage drinkers to state representative parties? Did that couple force female state representatives to get "falling down drunk" at these parties?
Let's address the strip club visit. Now you may say "no big deal" and maybe it isn't a big deal. I would say that if you are in a position of leadership in the Republican Party then yes, it is a big deal. It's a dumb decision at the least it's a breach of trust with your constituents at the worst (not to mention how it must sit with one's spouse).
I could say more but one of my listeners, who saw the Oregonian story wrote this to me this morning and I think he says all that I would say and much better (I am cutting and pasting it as is, with grammatical errors and misspellings intact, I haven't corrected anything because I want you to read his passion and his care for this subject):
Just wanted to reiterate how much I appreciate the stands you take on moral issues. I have no doubt that we will hear repeatedly "No laws were broken" in regards to this trip and to the topless bar escapade of these men. Technically that is correct. But it shows an incredible lack of moral compass, lack of judgement, and lack of sense for the "leaders" of the Oregon Republican House to do this.
First of all, many of these men were married. For a married man to seek out this form of entertainment is adulterous whether or not any "action" occured. That is an issue for them to work out with their wives, but I must say that I find this to be offensive that it was done publically and so arrogantly. I am well aware that "all have sinned", that all married men at some point have fallen into lustful thoughts of another. But to go to a topless bar, just as to seekout pornography online, in print, or on TV, is to look for gratification outside of marriage intentionally, not accidentally, it is a step short of an actual affair, and shows an incredible lack of moral compass. A leader can sin sexually, look at King David. But look too at the consequences of his sin. It led his nation into chaos, destroyed his family, and taught his sons to look at sexual sin in a morally relative way. He ended up fighting his son Absalom in a war and seeing him die, and it was all tied back to David's sexual sin. A leader must be in prayer daily to seek the help of God to not cave in to lust. Power provides opportunity and makes men really have to come to grips with their moral code.
Second, it shows poor judgement. Any action an elected official takes is going to find its way into public discourse. If an elected official spanked his unruly toddler in a supermarket, it will be front page news: "Representative Bob abused his son, what unseen rage must he express at home?" Especially for Republicans, these men should never forget that they are under a microscope. They are faced with a hostile media, and they represent a party that has chosen as one of its planks to stand for moral issues. To act in a legal but morally questionable way in a public place is to show contempt for your constituents, to presume that they will never find out despite your actions occuring in public. Its almost like John Edwards hiring a prostitute while his wife was in the hospital, did he think no one would notice? Really? Do these men really think they are that much smarter than anyone else? When Paul talks to Timothy about the characteristics of a Church leader, he talks about image and appearance. That is true in government as well. Like it or not, it matters what people percieive. Maybe it shouldn't, maybe it isn't "fair" that they are under this scrutiny, but it comes with being a public figure. Even as a teacher, I have to keep in mind that I am never entirely out of the classroom, that actions in any place have the possible consequence of undermining my authority with my students.
Third, it shows an incredible lack of common sense. The Media and the Democrats love to portray Republicans as rich and elitist, so they go to a retreat at a resort home in Palm Springs of one of the Representatives. COMMON SENSE guys. Media and Democrats love to portray Republicans as rich white guys, so they go on this trip without any of the females in the Oregon House. Where was Kim Thatcher, where was any female Republican? I am certainly not in favor of quotas, but again, think of the message you are sending. Then to add to the perception of good ole boys, you all go hang at a topless bar? Tone deaf is a nice way of putting it. Then there is the perception of "buy Oregon first. Palm Springs? Salishan, Sun River, or another of Oregon's many resorts wasn't good enough? Again, it reeks of elitism even before the tainted media twists it.
These men did nothing illegal. They spent no state money (that we know of). But they showed that they have no concept of how to portray to their constituents that they are really representatives of their interests. Bruce Hanna, in Roseburg, unemployment is above 20% I hear. Yet you have the cluelessness to blow a wad of money on a golf and resort trip with your House leadership buddies, irregardless of the topless bar incident. Vince Gilliam, you love to follow the horses and show your regular guyness at the Homer Davenport Parade every year shoveling up the crap after your truck is done with the parade. Yet you are so tone deaf, you don't recognize how your actions undermine your small town family guy image you try so hard to cultivate? And Kevin Cameron, in whose district I live, you above all, the leader of the Republicans in the House need to hold yourself to a higher standard. You fear publicity and it causes you to delay action on the Matt Wingard incident, undermining every shred of credibility when you discuss moral issues. Nixon wasn't impeached because of Watergate, he was impeached int he coverup. You MUST assume that every closet will be opened, every skeleton, hung up publically and dissected. I would never run for office because my financial choices, my foreclosure, my late bills, these things would become public and disqualify me to make budget decisions for the state. You MUST know that EVERY action you take will at some point be public. There isno way it will be otherwise. Yet here you go, hoping it will stay quiet. CLUELESS.
I have no doubt that Democratic Reps do things equally immoral or worse when they think the cameras are off. I have no doubt that there is a despicable double standard when Sam Adams can do and say horrible things, Neil Goldschmidt can get away scott free, and Kate Brown can bend the rules as she sees fit. That argument would get my daughters an extra weeks worth of grounding. The girls know, even my 5 year old, that if I hear "she did it first", or "They did it too", that punishment will be greater because of the attempt to justify wrong actions by comparing it to others. Of course it isn't fair that the media is in the tank for the Democrats and they get a pass on almost everything short of actual felonies. But to use that to justify a pass on your own indiscretions is the essence of immaturity. I have no doubt that we will hear many Republican voices call for unity and solidarity because after all, we want to maintain our 30/30 split. If we are immoral, if we espouse moral relativism in our own lives as Republicans, we don't deserve to lead this state. I am a Christian before I am a Republican or even a Conservative, and I have to stand on principle. I do not think I will be voting for Kevin Cameron this fall. If it costs him his seat, if it costs Republicans the House, I have to look my daughters in the eye. Am I being ridiculous? Am I consigning them to a worse state by demanding moral behavior from my Representatives? If so, then Oregon, and our Nation are already lost, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord, including by the votes I cast.
I am sending this email to Kevin Cameron, Bill, and maybe I am over reacting. I am curious what you think, because unlike any other Oregon Conservative voice, I believe you understand where I am coming from. Beyond the tawdry and disgusting moral relativism the party leaders show here though, there is another aspect that really bothers me.
I work 3 jobs in this economic swamp in which we live, my wife works full time, and we still can't seem to get out of debt and save enough to buy a house. We have sacrificed, moved from Silverton that we loved to South Salem that we tolerate for cheaper rent and less gas for the commute, pulled our daughters out of dance, not gone on a vacation other than to visit family where we could stay at their houses for almost all of our 15 years of marriage. We scrimp and save, we fight to pay our bills, we struggle and struggle to not use government programs (except when I was out of work and used food stamps for 10 months) we try to do the right thing, even as gas and food get more expensive and insurance and car repairs, and all the daily costs of living seem to grow while our pay seems to shrink or stagnate, and those who represent us decide that it makes sense to have a planning meeting in a Palm Springs Mansion, golf and soak in the sun while Oregon sinks under the weight of regulation and taxes, then they top it off by throwing their morals under a bus and living it up at a strip club?
If Democrats control both houses, they will add more regs and taxes because that is what they believe in, but really how much have our Republicans fought the growth of State Government? Over half our state land and most of our resources are under Federal control, what have they done about it? Huge numbers are on food stamps, taking housing aid, signing their kids up for Oregon Health Plan, what alternatives have they offered? My dad lost his mill job in 1981, and Oregon government is still hostile to those who harvest natural resources, still contemplates dam breaches, plastic bag bans, light rails, and stupid commissions and boards for every aspect of day to day life. When was the last time a Republican wrote a bill to eliminate one regulation or commission? We spend 11,000 a student in public schools, and what real alternatives have Republicans offered? School Choice? Too controversial sending state money to those fundementalist private schools. Charters? Only serve small numbers, regulated to the point of irrelevancy. Online schools? Just for those psychotic parents who want their kids at home and not in indoctrination centers. What have the Republicans done on education? Frankly, I see little evidence that these men, these resort going, topless bar visiting, elite arrogant men, have done any of the things that the conservative majority under the noise of of the university town hippies and metrosexual Portlandites really would like to see them do.
Uncle Ben said to Peter Parker "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility" in the first Spiderman movie. Do these men really believe that? I am all for sweeping out the chaff, let these arrogant jerks go back home and get real jobs and when the Democrats overplay their "mandate" as they always do, lets put some actual conservative citizens in the House as it should be. If I am overreacting tell me. Get one or more of these Reps on the show next week to defend themselves if they dare. Otherwise I send this to Cameron and vote for his Democratic opponent who visited with and sort of impressed my wife.
What else can I add, he has said it all. If I, as a Conservative talk show host, am going to call out Democrats for their misbehavior, should I (we) not hold that same fire to OUR GOP leaders?
I am calling for Rep. Bruce Hanna to demand that Rep. Matt Wingard resign immediately and if he will not because Wingard has MORE revelations, then let's hear them and let we the constituents decide.
Shame on your Bruce Hanna for your statements of arrogance and pride to the Oregonian. Rep. Cameron did the honorable thing. He stepped down from his leadership position and he has taken an stance of real repentance and remorse and I respect him for that. When will Hanna also tell us about the CCO's deal as well as the extension of the bottle bill and it's relation to your Coca-Cola plant? It's time to clean house folks.
And as for Rep. Matt Wand, I am very sorry that he used such poor judgement. He has always struck me as a strong family man and I pray that his family will survive this ordeal.
With Rep. Patrick Sheehan, I am not surprised, he is the "playboy" martini guy of the House and he was just living up to his image.
I am also calling for Rep. Dennis Richardson to be named House Speaker IF by some miracle the GOP wins the House majority. (A lot of little old ladies, strong Catholics, Mormons and Evangelicals might just sit this one out now). We need leadership with STRONG moral fiber not one who would say "it's none of your business what I do on my vacation" with such arrogance.
Moral purity? It's not about "purity" it's about LEADERSHIP! If we as Oregon Republicans do not win back the House it will be because we did not hold ourselves to the same principles that we so strongly speak out loud of.