Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston gives Nevada Senator John Ensign the treatment he so richly deserves: he jumps all over him with hobnailed boots. In a column that appeared late Saturday night, Jon skewered John over the letter John sent out last week soliciting contributions to his legal defense fund.
(In a move that Sarah Palin is no doubt kicking herself for not having come up with in her own time of need, Ensign “has registered his legal defense fund as a 527 political organization”, which makes contributions tax-exempt. So now, all of us are partners in Ensign’s legal defense. Of his apparently illegal actions. In fact, Ensign’s legal defense fund is contributing — in its own humble way — to increasing the deficit. Which Ensign, like all other Republicans in Congress, cares passionately about. Or maybe I shouldn’t use the word passionately in the context of a story about the consequences of his uncontrollable libido?)
Here’s part of what Ensign wrote in his fund-raising appeal (admittedly, the best part):
As I am sure you are aware, I admitted last year to making the worst mistake of my life.
In addition to causing great pain to my family, friends, and supporters, that mistake has also resulted in a difficult legal battle.
I have taken responsibility for my actions and worked hard to become a better husband, father, friend, and senator, but I have been accused of doing things I absolutely did not do.
No, John, the adultery you admitted to last year wasn’t the worst mistake of your life. After all, that’s not what the FBI is investigating you for, is it?
For example, all of the following are much bigger mistakes: having your parents pay hush money to your ex-mistress and her husband; displaying a reckless disregard for the law by actively pimping for the cuckolded husband’s illegal lobbying activities; deciding to brazen it out instead of quietly resigning when it was clear that you had been caught fair-and-square breaking the law.
But here’s Jon’s response to the above passage from John’s fund-raising letter:
John Ensign is a man of many talents, not the least of which are his skill at twisting the truth and of putting on a false front to the world. (What is it about people with exactly this combination of personality defects that convinces them early in life that they are cut out to be politicians?)
Nevada’s junior senator has been morally superior in public while morally inferior in private, and he created a web of deceit that ensnared friends and supporters now being punished for his indiscretions. Facing an ethics probe and a federal investigation, Ensign has tried to make his scandal about a moment of human weakness (that lasted for months) and nothing more.
But it has always been about much more…
Where to begin?
That mistake — this is just about sex! — did not lead to a “difficult legal battle.” Ensign is in legal jeopardy not because he slept with his wife’s best friend and his best friend’s wife — that never sounds less grotesque, does it? — but because of how he tried to cover it up, pay off the couple through Mom and Dad and then try to hush up the cuckolded husband by importuning people he regulates to hire him.
The vast majority of people, I think, would forgive Ensign for weakness of the flesh — the social conservative base he pandered to, notwithstanding. But his manipulation of the lives of Cindy and Doug Hampton and his shameful attempt to play the victim now have outraged many who might have been forgiving.
As for “being accused of things I absolutely did not do,” I ask: Really? Do tell. All we’ve heard is “no comment” for more than a year. What is there in the past that should induce us to believe him?
As CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan points out, it seems indisputable that Ensign did all of the following:
Senator Ensign had an extended affair with a campaign staffer, who happened to be married to his chief of staff Doug Hampton, fired them both, and had his parents pay them off without properly reporting it to the Federal Election Commission. He then conspired to help Mr. Hampton to set up a lobbying business to lobby his own office, in violation of federal law.
All of that would have to filed under “Accused of doing and actually did”.
The one thing that Ensign absolutely did not do in the course of his extended and ongoing sexual-shenanigans-and-cover-up scandal is tell the truth about actively aiding and abetting Doug Hampton’s career as an illegal lobbyist.
And last I checked, no one has actually accused Ensign of telling the truth about that.