LOS ANGELES—When is a kiss more than a kiss? When the man's lips belong to an avowed Christian politician who ran for office on family values, and the person he's kissing is a part-time staffer married to one of his best friends. Of course, on the flip side, the politician is from Louisiana, so rank hypocrisy is not exactly unexpected, even for a first term GOP congressman like Vance McAllister. (In a nod to the state's history, the Washington Post blog today provided an A-Z list of some of its most scandalous politicians.)
Fallout from the kiss, which was discovered via the leak of a security video from McAllister's local office, continues to dog McAllister. According to Politico, "The video, which was released in the News Star, a local paper, had him in a romantic embrace with Melissa Hixon Peacock, his scheduler, in his Monroe, La., district office. Peacock, who was married, no longer works for the congressman."
Peacock reportedly voluntarily resigned yesterday, and her husband took to the media right away to express his devastation and sense of betrayal by McAllister, for whose election both he and his wife campaigned and donated funds, and to state his intention to file for divorce. But disapproval of the fact that the woman had to go while the man refuses to budge remained a prevailing sentiment in news stories yesterday as well as many of the comments that accompanied them
In a written statement issued earlier this week following the Monday release of the grainy video showing him and Peacock in a tight embrace, the congressman defiantly stood his ground and dutifully asked for mercy from everyone, including his diety. “There’s no doubt I’ve fallen short and I’m asking for forgiveness,” he wrote. “I’m asking for forgiveness from God, my wife, my kids, my staff, and my constituents who elected me to serve. Trust is something I know has to be earned whether your [sic] a husband, a father, or a congressman. I promise to do everything I can to earn back the trust of everyone I’ve disappointed. From day one, I’ve always tried to be an honest man. I ran for Congress to make a difference and not to just be another politician. I don’t want to make a political statement on this, I would just simply like to say that I’m very sorry for what I’ve done. While I realize I serve the public, I would appreciate the privacy given to my children as we get through this.”
Over at Salon, writer Mary Elizabeth Williams was compelled to comment in reaction to the statement, "Frankly, I’m most 'disappointed' in the guy’s spelling."
Actually she is more disappointed in the guy's failure to give other people an equal benefit of the doubt, writing, "I’m ready for a Christian values candidate who’s clearly gone way off the Christian values family plan to say, you know what? I did a dumb, selfish thing, and I’m super sorry, and what I get now is that shame and blame are not useful tools for social progress. I’m going to treat you, the voters, the way I’m asking you to treat me right now. I’m not going to put you down for the choices you’ve made in your private life. I’m going to try to conduct my life with honesty and integrity, but I know what it is to fall short in that regard, and I’m not going to be some self-righteous a-hole about it. Let my bonehead move be an opportunity not just to ask you to do me any favor of forgiveness, but to learn to be better at giving it to others, so I can be a better leader. The Bible says, 'All have sinned and fall short.' That’s me, voters."
We'd like to see that, too, but unfortunately, we don't share her implied belief that McAllister's expressions of Christian piety are all that sincere in the first place. Not only that, but we don't for a second believe that any of the other family values folk in his party who helped him get elected would ever allow him to make such a statement. If he did, he'd get a real kiss-off, Washington-style.
In the end—and despite his most recent attempt to deflect attention to who leaked the video and how they got it—the only escape route for McAllister at this point, assuming he isn't toast already, is to hold firm and pray like there's no tomorrow that voters in his district don't mind being jerked off by the kissing congressman.
Image: The kiss.