Published on Wednesday, February 6, 2008 by CommonDreams.org
Bad Boys, Nasty Boys: Out of the GOP's Closet
by Michael Parenti
Republican party politicos espouse an unflagging devotion to old-fashioned
morality and family values, inveighing heavily against gay marriage,
abortion, homosexuality, adultery, feminism, crime, stem-cell research,
secularism, and liberalism-all of which they tend to lump together as
different facets of the same evil decadence.
GOP leaders dilate on the need to "put God back into public life." Many of
them even claim to be directly guided by their deity's mandate when
legislating and governing. Their private deeds, however, frequently betray
their words. Consider this incomplete sampling of politically prominent
"social conservatives" who preach the conventional virtues to their
constituents while practicing something else in their off-hours.
Recently-deceased Representative Henry Hyde, Illinois Republican, played a
key role in the impeachment campaign waged against the adulterous president
Bill Clinton. The several obituaries I read about Hyde failed to mention
that he a six-year liaison with a young married mother of three children.
The woman's former husband blamed Hyde for the divorce that followed from
the affair, and for the emotional damage inflicted on his children. Hyde
dismissed the affair as "a youthful indiscretion"-it having ended when he
was just a callow youngster of 43 or so. In 1992, Hyde divorced his wife of
45 years. Soon after that she died and he quickly remarried.
Representative Bob Livingston, Louisiana Republican, married with four
children, resigned as House speaker-elect after his marital infidelities
made the headlines in 1998.
Speaker of the House, Republican Newt Gingrich, led the charge against the
philandering Clinton while himself carrying on an affair with a
congressional aide. Gingrich hastened a divorce action against his (second)
wife while she was hospitalized with cancer in order that he might marry the
aide. At one point Gingrich's ailing ex-wife and children had to get
material assistance from their local church, having received insufficient
sums from Gingrich himself. In 2007, he claimed to have come to grips with
his "personal failures," having sought God's forgiveness.
Republican Baptist minister Bill Randall, who had been aggressively touted
by the Republican party as a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives
in Florida, admitted that he had fathered an illegitimate child in the
1980s. After confirming the child's existence, he changed his story the next
day during a press interview, suddenly insisting that his teenage son was
the father. Sensing that no one would swallow that story, Randall again
reversed course and admitted to paternity. He did everybody a favor by
dropping out of the 1998 congressional race.
Bob Barr was a Georgia GOP congressman until 2003, after which he became a
conservative activist. While still married to his first wife, he was
romancing the woman who would become his second wife. Barr was on record as
a staunch right-to-lifer, but this did not prevent him from driving wife #2
to a clinic and paying the costs for her abortion. He soon took on a new
mistress who became wife #3 shortly after he dumped #2. While in Congress,
Barr authored the "Defense of Marriage Act," probably with good reason.
Three leading candidates for the Republican 2008 presidential nomination,
Rudolph Giuliani, John McCain, and Newt Gingrich, had five divorces between
them, all involving adultery. On the Democratic side, the three front
runners, John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama, had neither
divorces nor infidelities. Yet it was the Republicans who laid claim to
being keepers of traditional family values, while damning the liberals for
their amorality and profligacy.
In 2007, Senator David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican and family-values man,
made the news for having patronized a prostitution ring in Washington, D.C.
for several years, and earlier having used the services of a New Orleans
brothel over a five-month period. Vitter refused to resign, assuring
everyone that "I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife."
Along with the hypocritical philanderers, there are the subterranean gay
blades. In 2007, Bob Allen, Florida Republican state legislator, married
with one child, was arrested in a public restroom after offering to perform
oral sex on an undercover officer for $20.
Another restroom adventurer was Senator Larry Craig, Republican of Idaho, an
outspoken opponent of gays in the military and gay marriage. Craig was
famously arrested for directing sexual advances toward an undercover police
officer in a men's toilet at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The
police had been monitoring the restroom because of complaints about sexual
activities there. Craig pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct. A number of
other men, including one from Craig's college days, identified the senator
as having engaged in sexual activity with them or having made overtures with
that intent, including an encounter in the restrooms at Union Station in
A few weeks later another GOP politico who consistently voted against gay
rights, Washington State representative Richard Curtis, was caught with his
panties down. Dressed in women's lingerie he met a man in a local erotic
video store, and went with him to a downtown hotel for a night of oral and
anal copulation. Once the story broke, Curtis resigned from office. By now,
word on the Internet was that GOP stood for "Gay Old Party" or "Greedy Old
Perverts," and that Richard Curtis had left public life "so he could spend
more time masturbating with his family."
There are the three classic cases of ultraconservative anti-gay gays who go
back half a century: FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, McCarthyite investigator
and Washington lobbyist Roy Cohn, and Cardinal Francis Spellman of the New
York Roman Catholic archdiocese. All three of these prominent right-wingers
and keepers of American homophobic vigilance were themselves secretly
full-blown homosexuals who sometimes partied together in the company of
choice male escorts-back in the days when the press dared not touch such
In the above cases, what is deplorable is not only the obviously
hypocritical inconsistency between professed beliefs and private behavior,
but the professed beliefs themselves; beliefs that advocate discrimination
against gays, brand prostitutes as criminals, equate abortion with murder,
denounce divorce as a mortal threat to family and nation, and treat sex
between unmarried consenting adults (even of the heterosexual variety) as
Consequently, a noticeable number of conservative politicos face the
daunting task of trying to submerge their lascivious desires in order to
live up to their puritanical mouthings, trapped as they are in an unyielding
cycle of surreptitious sin and furious public denunciations of those same
In recent years, Republican ranks appeared to be riddled not only with
sexual hypocrites but, far worse, sexual predators. There was the former
Republican mayor of Waterbury, Connecticut, Philip Giordano who is now
serving a 37-year sentence for sexual abuse in 2001 of two girls, ages 8 and
Jim West, conservative Republican mayor of Spokane, Washington, backed a
measure to prohibit gays and lesbians from teaching in public schools on the
presumption that they might get too close to their pupils. Meanwhile he was
using his city hall computer to troll for sex with high school boys. Two men
accused West of molesting them when they were Boy Scouts and he was a troop
leader. He was ousted in a recall election in 2005.
A GOP congressman from Florida, Mark Foley, was caught sending sexually
explicit emails to teenaged boys who had served as congressional pages. He
reportedly invited one page to engage in oral sex with him, an offer the boy
refused. Foley chaired the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children,
which introduced stricter legislation for tracking sexual predators.
Republican congressional leaders had received complaints about him from
congressional pages-which they repeatedly failed to act upon. Foley resigned
from Congress in 2006.
At that time, allegations of improper interactions with congressional pages
were leveled at another Republican Congressman, Jim Kolbe of Arizona, who
decided not to run for reelection.
In 2007, a Florida federal prosecutor working for the Bush administration,
operating in "one of the most conservative United States attorney's offices
in the country," dedicated to a hardline law-and-order approach, was charged
with traveling across state lines to have sex with a five-year-old girl. J.
D. Roy Atchison, had been chatting online with an undercover officer who
posed as a mother offering to let men have sex with her young daughter. When
arrested en route to his would-be rendezvous with a five-year-old, Atchison
was carrying a doll and petroleum jelly. While detained in a federal prison
in Michigan, he committed suicide.
In such instances, the most reprehensible thing is neither the hypocrisy nor
the professed beliefs, but the behavior itself, involving the molestation
and sexual assault of children and unwilling adolescents. The perpetrators
are not merely hypocrites, they are criminals. In these cases, they really
So the holy hypocrites-philanderers, homophobic gays, and pedophiles-crow
their devotion to traditional morality while pursuing material and emotional
plunder more rapaciously than any of us ordinary infidels and libertines.
Looking at the above cases, and the many others that one could add if space
and patience allowed, we can conclude that professions of religiosity are no
guarantee of moral behavior. If anything, the hypocrites use religion as a
bludgeon to be brandished against liberal opponents in order that they
themselves might better pursue their aggrandizing goals and desires-no
matter how selfish and destructive these may be. If this be morality, who
Michael Parenti's recent publications include: Contrary Notions: The Michael
Parenti Reader (City Lights, 2007); Democracy for the Few, 8th ed.
(Wadsworth, 2007); The Culture Struggle (Seven Stories, 2006). For further
information, visit his website: www.michaelparenti.org.