June 23, 2004

Giving the name Jack a bad rep 

Illinois Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jack Ryan has some spillaining to do, which he tried during an interview on Chicago Public Radio yesterday. He says that "whatever issues" he and his former wife dealt with in the past, they don't involve breaking laws, or marriage vows, or the Ten Commandments. They're just, um, exceedingly uncomfortable for a candidate campaigning on a "family values" theme. But according to Ryan, the facts actually "prove his character." OK, let's say he visited sex clubs with his (then) wife, and asked her to get into the ambience, so to speak. Boy I lead a boring life. Anyway, we're running smack into a couple of interesting issues: 1. Ryan is being accused of hiding this information in his divorce records, which were released Monday night by a California judge. More specifically, he's accused of hiding behind his son, claiming he wanted to protect him from the information, rather than admitting he's trying to protect his political career. Well duh. Most people probably have embarrassing episodes they'd rather not reveal if they ever run for the U.S. Senate, for example. Is this "hiding behavior" somehow irrational? 2. Sex sex sex. It makes the birds sing, puts the leap in the frog, and makes the banana grow in the peel. It's also unmentionable in today's American political climate. Better to admit you once did drugs (even inhaled) than say your personal love map has lead you to exotic climes. To be a successful political candidate, your sex life must be both monogamous and pedestrian. At least until you're elected. So maybe in the post Lewinskygate era, we want our politicians to look and smell squeeky-clean. Maybe the GOP is going to pressure Jack Ryan into withdrawing from the Senate race. But I hear a little voice, faint and trembling, timid and fearful that it will be shouted down once again. It's saying "don't we have other issues we should worry about."

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