Is it the sex, or is it the hypocrisy? I keep asking myself that question when I think about U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister, R-Swartz, who will forever be remembered as "the kissing congressman" for being videotaped in a passionate lip lock with a 33-year-old aide who also happens to be the wife of a longtime friend.
This story hurts on many levels, but the hypocrisy is what riles me most of all — and there's plenty of it to go around, at all levels of both political parties.
As for the sex part, well, that's as old as the Holy Bible, which a legislative committee voted to make the official state book three days after the video of McAllister's make out session went viral. Coincidentally, another Louisiana House committee voted a day earlier to decriminalize anal and oral sex. Hmm.
Freeing the sodomites while we embrace the Good Book sure makes us look, um, morally confused, but hypocrisy too is as old as the Bible. By the way, Jesus forgave the adulteress and the prostitute — but he consistently condemned hypocrites.
Which calls to mind our self-righteous governor, Bobby Jindal and state GOP chair Roger Villere, who both wasted no time calling McAllister's indiscretion "an embarrassment" and demanding that he resign. That prompted many, including many Republicans, to wonder where Jindal's and Villere's moral outrage was in 2007 when Louisiana's U.S. Sen. David Vitter admitted to a "serious sin." Vitter's sin turned out to be bedding down with hookers — to the point of taking calls from a prostitution ring while voting in Congress.
Louisiana Democrats are having a field day with Jindal's hypocrisy on this one, but the governor is having an even grander time. Lest we forget, Jindal has a pretty high threshold for hypocrisy. I'm not even sure if Jindal's hypocrisy has a limit.
No, Jindal is delighted these days because McAllister's transgression gives him a twofer: he gets to stick a knife in the new congressman who embarrassed him by defeating his hand-picked candidate in a special election last November; and he gets to remind everyone of Vitter's "serious sin" on the eve of the junior senator's campaign for governor next year.
Jindal and Vitter may align philosophically, but the two men cannot stand one another personally. If Jindal has to bear criticism for hypocrisy — a charge that, no matter how glaringly true, seems to roll off him like water off a duck — well, that's a small price to pay for the chance to prick two foes with one stroke.
As for the Democrats, they have their own gallery of pervs and fornicators, on both the local and national scenes. President Bill Clinton redefined oral copulation (in the Oval Office, no less) as not even being sex; and former Gov. Edwin Edwards (the Hugh Hefner of Louisiana) has made philandering a decades-long political joke. Defenders of both men say they at least weren't hypocrites, as both reveled in their reputations for skirt chasing. That may be true on some level, but Edwards had a great many other sins, not the least of which was selling out his state almost as often as he lusted in his heart (and elsewhere).
So where does that leave McAllister?
Louisiana's newest congressman has earned his own place in the pantheon of hypocrites for having run as a family-values man, only to be caught in the arms of his neighbor's wife six weeks after his election.
But let's face it, neither sex nor hypocrisy is McAllister's greatest "sin" in the eyes of Jindal, Villere and other Republicans who now piously demand his resignation. No, McAllister's real sin is his clear-eyed call for Jindal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. For daring to recognize that leaving hundreds of thousands of Louisiana's poor without access to health care is a sin against mankind, McAllister must be punished.
In the end, it's not the sex. Nor is it the hypocrisy. It's the courage to speak the truth that has brought condemnation raining down on Vance McAllister. That's why I pray for him and his family.