"I have been a consistent supporter of pro-life values."
It's difficult to read that claim, spoken by Rep. Scott DesJarlais, with a straight face in the wake of the revelation that the representative from Tennessee's 4th Congressional District had an affair and later encouraged his mistress to have an abortion after he allegedly knocked her up.
On Wednesday, the Huffington Post published a damning transcript of a Sept. 2000 phone call between DesJarlais, then a full-time physician, and a patient with whom he was intimately involved. According to the transcript, DesJarlais pressured his mistress to get an abortion by threatening to tell his wife about the affair and revealing the mistresses' name.
DesJarlais did not deny the content of the transcript, which HuffPost claims was verified by a number of people.
The question isn't why DesJarlais committed adultery by sleeping with one of his patients, then pressured her to have an abortion in the hopes of hiding his affair from his wife.
The answer to that is simple. DesJarlais is apparently one of millions of Americans who don't have the self-control or respect for their spouse to refrain from committing adultery and ruining their marriage. The congressman is also evidently one of millions of Americans who decided that abortion was the most reasonable solution to an unwanted pregnancy. Both situations are as common as old ladies speed walking in the mall. They happen every day.
The real question is, should it matter that a congressmen committed adultery and pushed his mistress to have an abortion?
If DesJarlais were a Democrat, it might not matter. But as a pro-life, family values Republican, his indiscretion is a fireable offense.
By running as a socially conservative, pro-life, family values candidate, DesJarlais automatically earned the trust and support of voters for whom those beliefs are a central part of life. In an area as socially conservative as Tennessee's 4th District, his pro-life, family values platform almost certainly won him the election.
By championing socially conservative values, DesJarlais made an implicit promise that he would reflect those beliefs, not only in the House of Representatives, but in his home in Jasper, as well. When he betrayed the people who put him in office and proved to be a hypocrite on the issues he claimed to hold most dear, DesJarlais sealed his fate. His political career will soon be over.
If there's one lesson politicians can learn from DesJarlais, it's this: If you're going to benefit by talking the talk, you have to be willing to walk the walk.