Hypocrisy rarely gets more overt than this. Tennessee Rep. Scott DesJarlais, fresh off charges that he engaged in inappropriate relationships with his patients while a dentist, faced an even greater moral quandary with news that he backed his ex-wife’s abortions.
The purpose for one of those abortions was that “things weren’t going well between us, and it was a mutual decision.”
DesJarlais is a family values, pro-life Congressman. It’s always interesting to find that those who want to bash the behavior of other people, often have a convenient excuse when it comes to their own failings. DesJarlais is no different.
Family values do not align with having an affair with a patient while still married. Yet DesJarlais is guilty of more than just his own moral failings. DesJarlais’ dismissal of his professional standards is another example of his alarming disregard to be held to the same standards as the rest of America.
Things started to unravel shortly before the election when the affair became public. DesJarlais, who represents a conservative and non-competitive district in Tennessee, survived the election despite the conflict between what he professes and how he lives. Yet as more details came out, it emerged that this wasn’t just a one-time deviation in his behavior. Ultimately, DesJarlais admitted to inappropriate relationships with two patients and three co-workers.
After the election, the abortions became public and now some of his supporters want answers. DesJarlais has an answer: He won’t leave office unless the voters cast him out.
While DesJarlais expressed some regret to the Knoxville News Sentinel about the two abortions, it sounds a lot more like regret that he was caught than regret that he urged his then wife to have the abortions.
“I guess as a physician, I was a fairly objective person,” he said of his beliefs at the time. “I try not to be a judgmental person. (Abortion) was just not something that I put as much thought into as I should have, in retrospect. Going back, if I could change and do things differently, certainly I would.”
So that is DesJarlais’ excuse. He was simply being “objective.” All those affairs must have come from the same “objective” point of view too. Add in that DesJarlais called himself not a judgmental person, and something is clearly wanting in this explanation. Being objective and not judgmental are usually good traits, yet DesJarlais uses them as a prop to support his bad behavior. What is DesJarlais suggesting? That being subjective and judgmental are moral traits?
Writing this behavior off as human error is fine for a mistake or two, but when it comes to half-a-dozen or more, the pattern becomes difficult to explain away. This isn’t a momentary lapse by DesJarlais. This is deeply ingrained behavior.
“I am human,” he said during an hour-long interview with the News Sentinel. “I don’t think I ever put myself out there to be somebody that was perfect. I put myself out there as somebody who wanted to serve the public.”
Not even John Edwards tried that explanation to coverup his mistresses’ pregnancy. The good ol’ serving the public excuse just doesn’t cut it.
Tennessee Republicans also want a better explanation than they are getting as reported by the Chattoonoga Times Free Press:
“He lied. That’s about all you can say,” said Liz Holiway, a Tennessee Republican Party state executive committeewoman who represents portions of DesJarlais’ 4th District. “Not saying that a lot of other politicians haven’t. But I think something should be done.”
“There are so many things that are out there that people need to hear from him about what happened,” said Emily Beaty, a state executive committeewoman from Bradley County who works in marketing. “He should probably just be truthful. That would be helpful to him as a person, not just as a politician.”
It takes a rare politician who can step forward an explain things as a real person, not a politician. The long history of DesJarlais to cover these stories up suggests that he is not one of those people. Indeed, one of his comments as they stories broke implies that he is still thinking as a politician and about himself solely. DesJarlais announced that he was running for reelection in 2014 just days after being reelected. DesJarlais is hoping that the voters will forget about his hypocrisy in two years. He might just be right.