Both are embarrassments to their parties, their states, and the voters who elected them, however.
First the winner: Ohio State Representative Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, who was discovered over the weekend passed out drunk in his car with a loaded firearm at a McDonald’s drive-thru . Wes was arrested by Butler County sheriff’s deputies, and faces charges of operating a vehicle under the influence and improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle, because there is no current criminal law covering unbelievably stupid conduct by an elected official.
Retherford was easily re-elected in November in the heavily Republican district, even though voters had to know he was a drunk. He had to defeat a challenger in the GOP primary after another candidate gained the party’s endorsement because Retherford had been criticized for “partying.” “Partying” is a euphemism, in this case, for “has a serious drinking problem and is likely to end up passed out drunk in his car at a McDonald’s drive-thru with a loaded firearm. The Ohio House Speaker even had to order a drinks cart removed from Retherford’s office because it violated House rules. People voted for him anyway. They must be so proud.
Our runner-up is a different brand of fool, but a fool nonetheless: Texas State Rep. Jessica Farrar, a Democrat, offered what she termed a “satirical bill” that would fine men for masturbating, allow doctors to refuse to prescribe Viagra and require men to undergo a medically unnecessary rectal exam before any elective vasectomy. Farrar says that she knows her bill will never pass, but says she hopes it will start a conversation about abortion restrictions. Continue reading
Rising Ethics Alarms comment star Zoltar Speaks! has weighed in with a passionate and perceptive comment inspired my recent overview of the ethical bankruptcy among the public’s current top choices to be our next President. Most commentators, even partisan ones, have become sensitive to what ZS describes, though they describe it in differing ways. Here’s a fascinating post on City Journal, giving Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Kennedy’s hagiographer and once influential liberal/Democratic historian credit for predicting the phenomenon:
Government, especially democratic government, relies on trust. Nixon and Watergate exacerbated the decline in trust created by the Vietnam War, then Clinton betrayed the dignity and image of his office to make almost any conduct by the President not just imaginable, but defensible. Sam Donaldson famously said that Clinton would have to resign if the allegation about Monica were true, and he had lied. Sam was right under previous rules, and a President who cared more about the country’s trust than himself would have done as Donaldson predicted.
Next came the completely random catastrophe of the tied 2000 election. Democrats, to their undying shame, employed it as a wedge, and to insist that the election had been stolen, a practice I described at the time as picking at the connective threads of the tapestry of our society. 9-11 was used to suggest that our government would murder its own people; Katrina was used to suggest that our government would allow black people to die because they were black. Bush’s administration blundered into a war, and then into a near-depression—in past generations, these would both be attributed to miscalculations. But the tapestry, as I warned, was unraveling. Now those mistakes were being seen as deliberate, sinister.Then came Obama, once promising hope and harmony, who has deliberately exacerbated divisions and distrust to build a political firewall around his own incompetence. Public trust in government, before the Vietnam protests, was at 73%; it is below 25% today. Of course it is. The question is: Now what?
Here is Zoltar Speaks! in his Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Update: The Frontrunners: