Belated Ethics Make ...


By William Westmiller

Speaker-designate Robert Livingston fell on his sword in the middle of last month's impeachment vote. Like an oriental Samurai dishonored in battle, he may have thought it a redeeming quality to resign his political life as atonement for his ethical failures. He apparently felt obliged to resign his position and membership in the House of Representatives to set an example for the President he has condemned for similar faults. But his act was far from heroic, as it simply disclosed the most extreme cowardice and hypocrisy.
Livingston didn't resign because he had broken any law; he hadn't lied under oath; his adulterous conduct is perfectly legal in the state of Louisiana. Nor did he resign because he had lived a public lie for years and years. He resigned only because he considered his extramarital activity a sin. By portraying his resignation as an example to the President, he disclosed his true sentiments: Clinton should resign for his sins. Not for perjury. Not for lying under oath. Not for any heinous crimes. Just for his sexual sins.
Nor did Livingston own up to his sins honestly. He was outed. And, curse the irony, outed by a damned pornographer. Livingston's public suicide didn't just end his political career, it destroyed his entire credibility as a judge of any other lying adulterer. It destroyed the credibility of any argument he made for Clinton's impeachment.
Livingston's colleague, Tom Delay, celebrated Livingston's "honor and decency and integrity," but he had it exactly backward. Livingston never had any of those qualities. We just didn't know it until after he resigned. If Livingston is to be taken at his own belated word, he never should have been a candidate for Congress, much less Speaker of the House. As long as his moral turpitude was secret, his moral and political power was intact. By his resignation, he admitted not just his sexual faults, but also the hypocrisy of his arguments against another. For the most ignoble public act of the year 1998, I nominate a former icon of virtue, Robert Livingston.


©1999, William Westmiller
California Coordinator of the Republican Liberty Caucus
Past Candidate for the Republican Nomination for (24CA) Congress
Former National Secretary, California Chairman, Libertarian Party
belated.c23 ~350 Words
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