President Bush’s budget-busting, spendthrift tactics have already robbed the GOP of its claim to the title, "Party of Fiscal Conservancy."
Now the perverse antics of some high-level Bush appointees and his party’s power elite are lifting the cloak of "family values" from the GOP, too.
The "D.C. Madam" scandal is only the latest in a string of stories revealed during the president’s second term showing that the private lives of some of his most powerful appointees bear little resemblance to the Ozzie-and-Harriet-like ideal the party tries to mimic.
Deborah Jeane Palfrey is in court battling charges of running a high-class prostitution ring from her California home. She maintained a 46-pound Rolodex that has already caused the resignation of one State Department potentate and reportedly contains the names of more elite Bush administration officials and Republican Party donors. The first resignation was that of Randall Tobias, who last week fled a top State Department perch. While there, he not only managed foreign-assistance programs but also, according to The New York Times, "ran agencies that required foreign recipients of AIDS assistance to explicitly condemn prostitution, a policy that drew protests from some nations and relief organizations."
As "AIDS czar," Tobias alienated many AIDS-plagued, developing nations by requiring recipients of U.S. foreign aid to sign a pledge against prostitution. Donee nations complained the pledge effectively prevented organizations from befriending sex workers so as to teach them HIV/AIDS prevention. Tobias also promoted faithfulness and abstinence over condom use to prevent AIDS transmission.
Now the joke’s on Tobias, who has the gall to claim his patronage of the D.C. Madam’s women involved "no sex" and that he paid a reported $300 per session for "the gals" (as he put it) to give him massages. Yeah, right: Even in pricy Washington, in my humble opinion, $300 seems like an awful lot for a garden-variety massage. And President Bush is a uniter, not a divider.
Would that the D.C. Madam scandal were the only example of family-unfriendly behavior by powerful GOP Washingtonians. Let’s ignore, for the moment, the congressional page scandal in which disgraced former Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., traded lewd e-mails with young male pages. Let’s ignore, too, the resignation of former Food and Drug Administration appointee — and evangelical Christian gynecologist (whatever that is) — Dr. W. David Hager.
Hager, among many other bizarre acts, urged his female patients to pray for relief from medical conditions. Worse yet, the Nation Magazine reported that Hager’s ex-wife said that while he publicly sermonized and moralized on sexual matters, he repeatedly sodomized her without her consent over a seven-year period.
Let’s focus, instead, on the post-resignation antics of the man Bush appointed to lead the Office of Population Affairs. This office is in charge of doling out almost $300 million worth of contraceptives to low-income women. Yet appointee Eric Keroack once described contraceptives as "demeaning to women." And he came to the Bush administration’s attention due to his management of an affiliation with a string of crisis-pregnancy centers. These are the "centers" that lure pregnant women in by masquerading as women’s health service providers. Instead, they proselytize and show women ultrasound images of fetuses to dissuade them from having abortions.
Keroack resigned abruptly about a month ago, after less than five months in the job, because (as the Boston Globe reported) he was "notified that the state’s Medicaid office had launched an investigation into his private practice."
Turns out, as the Globe reported last month, "Two months before he resigned … Keroack received two formal warnings from the Massachusetts board of medicine ordering him to refrain from prescribing drugs to people who are not his patients and from providing mental health counseling without proper training." Keroack provides yet another example of stellar professionalism and family-friendly behavior.
Don’t get me wrong. Democrats have their famous foibles, too. I still say former President Bill Clinton should have resigned for having oral sex with Monica Lewinsky in the Oval Office, rather than drag the nation through the trauma of impeachment proceedings. But the lesson of Bush’s GOP and its strange agglomeration of perverse appointed and elected officials is that neither party should ever lay claim to that mantle again.
(Bonnie Erbe is a TV host and columnist. E-mail bonnieerbe(at)CompuServe.com.)