While campaigning for president in the aftermath of the Watergate scandals that toppled the Nixon Administration, former Governor Jimmy Carter vowed to audiences on the campaign trail that he would never lie to the public.
Carter received an admonishment for his ironclad promise from his own mother Lillian, who believed that it was impossible for any person holding such a high office to live up to that standard.
While Democratic politicians disinterested with the realities of balanced budgets have a habit of promising limitless material benefits to their constituencies, Republican politicians tend to do something similar, though instead of mortgaging the public treasury to advance their own ambitions they tend to overpromise of themselves, particularly when it comes to living the Christian values they espouse in stump speeches and professionally produced 30 second television advertisements.
To borrow a verse from the New Testament’s Book of Luke, Republicans try too much to portray themselves as the self-righteous Pharisee and not the humble Publican.
Thus when they do succumb to sins of the flesh, the fallout is much worse than what a Democrat endure.
For example, former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner needed two sexting scandals to politically collapse while one would have been sufficient to take down almost any given Republican.
Louisiana Congressman Vance McAllister might have been afforded some political forgiveness had he possessed a body of work on Capitol Hill or if he had become indispensable to his district.
However his entire brief stint in Washington, or for that matter his entire political career, has been defined as that of the “kissing congressman” and there’s simply no repairing that in this term.
There is no powering through this episode, no matter what the Robertson family of Duck Dynasty fame has to say on the matter. To fight on would result in McAllister becoming a politically radioactive pariah within his caucus and almost certain defeat in the November general election.
Furthermore McAllister’s candidacy in November would attract an inordinate amount of press coverage, becoming an albatross for the national GOP as they look to make additional gains in the House and play for a majority in the US Senate.
And while Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and the chairman of the Louisiana GOP have called for McAllister to resign, he should instead announce that he will not seek re-election this fall while remaining in office.
The voters of the 5th District deserve to have a representative in Washington who will conduct himself or herself in a matter befitting of the trust they have been loaned and to have a true choice whereby prospective candidates would have ample time to financially prepare for a campaign in a district that stretches from the southside of the Arkansas state border to the northside of the St. Tammany Parish line.
Rushing to a special election would be as unseemly as the “hatched” special election that created the voter backlash that paved the way for McAllister’s ascension in the first place.
There’s been one “coup attempt” in the 5th district and shouldn’t be a second in less than a half-year’s time.
It cost the taxpayers $3,000,000 to conduct a statewide election and as the sprawling 5th Congressional District covers 22 parishes a second special election for the seat could run between $750,000 and $1,000,000.
Are the interests of the state and taxpayers really served by spending that large sum just to swap out congressmen a few months prior to the regularly scheduled November general election?
I think the state could stand the temporary embarrassment of a nationally obscure US Representative who lived up to the negative stereotype of a politician, though one who did not commit a felony, more than the loss of that sum of money.
Louisiana stomached Bill Jefferson for years; we can cope with McAllister for a few more months.
Granted the political consultant class might salivate at the thought of potentially getting action in a four media market contest twice in a six month period, but they’re the exploiters of democracy not their altruistic advocates.
McAllister should do the honorable thing by announcing before the close of business on Friday that he will not seek re-election this fall (lest the House leadership make the decision for him over the weekend) and the responsible thing by trying to live up to the public image he spent a considerable amount of his own money crafting and quietly finish out the less than nine months remaining on his term.