Credit Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) for not being a total hypocrite.
On Tuesday morning, he announced he is resigning from the House because he had “a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff.” He noted that he had “sinned against God, my wife, and my family.” Souder has been a fierce opponent of gay marriage. On his website, he notes,
I believe that Congress must fight to uphold the traditional values that undergird the strength of our nation. The family plays a fundamental role in our society. Studies consistently demonstrate that it is best for a child to have a mother and father, and I am committed to preserving traditional marriage, the union of one man and one woman.
And he refers to gay marriage as an “assault on American values.” Here was a fellow who was committed to preventing gay and lesbian Americans from enjoying the rights and protections of marriage, while he was disregarding his own. Could it be that the gay “assault” on marriage weakened his own marital bonds? Anyone on the right want to argue Souder is a victim?
This is a classic example of GOP hypocrisy: professing love of “traditional” family values, while screwing around. Nothing unusual here, move along—though Souder may deserve extra credit for having taped with his staffer/lover a video praising his advocacy of abstinence education. (In the video, she tells him, “You’ve been a longtime advocate for abstinence education and in 2006 you had your staff conduct a report entitled ‘Abstinence and its Critics’ which discredits many claims purveyed by those who oppose abstinence education.”)
But there is a slight twist in the Souder tale. As soon as news of his affair broke, some Twitterers were tweeting that Souder must have voted for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. But Souder, who was elected to the House in 1994, didn’t. In fact, in November 1998, he argued against impeaching Clinton. He said that his fellow House Republicans should not proceed with impeachment unless they could assemble a case involving more than sex-and-perjury allegations. And then Souder stuck to his guns and was one of five House Republicans to vote against the three articles of impeachment, saying that he believed that Clinton had perjured himself during the Monica Lewinsky investigation but that this did not merit impeachment.
So when Souder says in his resignation announcement, “In the poisonous environment of Washington, D.C., any personal failing is seized upon, often twisted, for political gain,” he’s not being a Johnny-Come-Lately in decrying the politics of petty personal destruction. He was against it during the Clinton days (when a Democratic president was the target), and now he’s against it (when he would be the target).
Souder only scores one out of two on the hypocrisy scale. For a Republican caught in a sex scandal, that’s pretty good.