The sordid scandals of the holier-than-thou

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Michigan Republican state reps Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat, in happier times. (Photo from The Guardian.)

 

It would be all too easy to devote this blog to nothing more than cataloging the seemingly endless hypocrisies of the religious right. So I just don’t think its worth much of my time, or yours, pointing out the obvious.

But low-hanging fruit can be pretty damn juicy, especially when it’s ripe for the picking in your own backyard. So meet Republican state representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat, Tea Party favorites, Christian conservatives, and probably the loudest advocates and defenders of traditional marriage in the Michigan legislature.

Especially if your definition of traditional marriage includes adultery.

Rumors of an affair between Courser and Gamrat — who regularly invoke Christian values to support their political positions — had been swirling around state political circles for months. But the whole thing exploded into public view earlier this week thanks to Courser’s comical attempt to enlist his staff in a scheme to divert attention from the affair by floating claims that he had been caught paying for gay sex behind a Lansing nightclub.

Apparently Courser believed the charges of illicit gay sex would distract his constituents from the more mundane adultery he was actually engaged in. More precisely, as the Detroit News revealed when it broke the story, Courser (married father of four) told his aides the exaggerated claims would “inoculate the herd” and make “anything else that comes out after that — that isn’t a video — mundane, tame by comparison.”

While Gamrat has so far kept quiet about the whole thing, the same can’t be said for Courser. MLive has a terrific overview of the story and the reaction in Courser’s Lapeer district. Here’s a taste:

The story revealed Courser, R-Lapeer, tried to get an aide, Ben Graham, to send an email making the false claim Courser was a bisexual deviant who skipped out on legislative duties to pay for homosexual sex behind a “prominent Lansing nightclub.” The email was meant to “inoculate the herd,” Courser said, for when news of his actual affair with Gamrat leaked.

Courser’s attempts to douse the fire — a 27-minute recording of him accusing ex-staffers of conspiring against him, the release of texts from a person he’s referred to as “The Blackmailer” to prove the conspiracy, accusing a political consultant of being The Blackmailer and tweets accusing Speaker of the House Kevin Cotter of working against him — instead acted as accelerant.

Despite all the free advice from public relations professional urging resignation and silence, Courser continues to press his story of blackmail.

The whole thing is almost too absurd to believe. Almost.

What is white privilege?

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White privilege is …

That’s white privilege.

One compromise with Republican orthodoxy Sinn Fein won’t make

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In a long interview with the Belfast Telegraph, Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, former IRA chief of staff and one of the stalwarts of Sinn Fein’s peace strategy, stood firm on one of the few pillars of traditional Republican orthodoxy still standing.

Asked if Sinn Fein would take its seats at Westminster in the event that a friendly Labour government needed its support in parliament, McGuinness was adamant:

No. Our position has been on the record for many decades and I don’t envisage any change whatsoever; there is no mood for it within the party. Quite apart from the principle involved it could damage the cohesion of mainstream republicanism. I think that is not something that a leadership that has been very precious about cohesiveness would contemplate.

He denied that this position was underpinned by fear of a backlash from Sinn Fein supporters who up until now have gone along with every compromise the party’s leadership has made, from declaring a permanent end to the armed campaign, standing down the IRA, decommissioning weapons, to recognizing the legitimacy of the PSNI, taking seats in the partitionist institutions of Stormont and Leinster House, and administering British rule as partners in government with the DUP.

That is not the reason. The reason is that we have a principled republican position. Politicians are criticised left, right and centre for not having principled positions but on this matter we don’t see any advantage in change either. The negotiations that I have been involved in with successive British Prime Ministers over the the last 20-odd years have borne more fruit than me being the MP for Mid Ulster. I had more access than many Labour and Conservative backbenchers had.

So that settles it then. This is the one Republican principle left on which the party stands firm. Until it doesn’t.

And that time will come, as McGuinness unwittingly acknowledged, when the party’s leaders no longer see any advantage in leaving the last pillar of Republican orthodoxy standing.