Things just got a whole lot worse for Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.).The hypocrisy of this does not particularly interest me -- hypocrisy is always with us, and there isn't much more to be said.
According to a new report from the Chattanooga Times Free Press the congressman, who is also a doctor, admitted to sexual relationships with multiple patients and co-workers during sworn testimony at his divorce trial and urged his now-ex-wife to get two abortions, despite campaigning for Congress as an antiabortion rights, family values candidate.
The paper obtained a transcript of his 2001 trial, in which DesJarlais cops to having “had sexual relationships with at least two patients, three coworkers and a drug representative while he was chief of staff at Grandview Medical Center in Jasper, Tenn.,” in the paper’s words. The relationships with patients both occurred in 2000, when DesJarlais was married. . . .
During the trial, DesJarlais said the first time he urged his ex-wife to get an abortion, it was because she was on medication on which she wasn’t supposed to get pregnant. The second time, he said it was because “things were not going well between us and it was a mutual decision.” Both abortions occurred before the couple was married in 1995.
What I wonder is whether people turn to conservative politics through fear of just sort of thing, and especially if they have actually been involved in this sort of thing themselves. Tennessee has both deep red politics and one of the nation's highest divorce rates. Generally speaking, most of the indices of social turmoil -- divorce, teen pregnancy, spousal abuse, etc. -- are worse in conservative southern states, and this is even more true if you only consider white people. White people in Connecticut, Minnesota, and Vermont are much less likely to have personally experienced family breakdown than those in Alabama, Louisiana, or Kentucky. Is there a relationship between this social fact and our politics? Is "social conservatism" a response to a society in crisis, therefore stronger where the crisis is worse? Or is it something about the style of southern culture that lends itself both to misbehavior and extreme stands against it?