Washington is notorious for its sanctimonious, philandering hypocrites, but few fall into that category with more chutzpah than Tennessee's 4th District congressman, Scott DesJarlais.
A practicing physician at the time, DesJarlais defeated incumbent Democratic Rep. Lincoln Davis in 2010 on an anti-abortion, family-values, Tea Party-backed campaign in a newly gerrymandered district. Now it's clear his righteous persona was a blatant charade. As his marriage was disintegrating in 2000, he was urging his mistress - whom he met as a patient for a foot problem - to have an abortion, according to a conversation with her that DesJarlais' former wife said he himself taped.
The tape, the Huffington Post reported Wednesday, reveals that DesJarlais urged his lover to keep her promise to terminate her pregnancy even though he suspected that he was the father.
"You told me to you'd have an abortion, and now we're getting too far along without one," he said, as the two discussed whether he would accompany her to get the abortion, and whether he would he reveal her identity to his wife, the Huffington Post reported. As the conversation reportedly continued, DesJarlais said his lover's delay in getting an abortion was unfair to his wife, with whom he apparently was attempting to reconcile.
"This is not fair to me. I don't want you in my life," she responded. "Well, I didn't want to be in your life either, but you lied to me about something that caused us to be in this situation, and that's not my fault, that's yours," he replied.
"Well, it's [your] fault for sleeping with your patient," she retorted, suggesting the doctor's ethical transgression of a relationship with a patient.
DesJarlais suggested that if "need to go Atlanta, or whatever, to get this solved and get it over, so we can get on with our lives, then let's do it." He reportedly taped the conversation to show his wife, who had sued him for a divorce two years earlier for improper marital behavior, that he had ended the relationship with his pregnant lover. Court records on the eventual divorce, the Huffington Post reported, ultimately showed that DesJarlais admitted to at least four affairs.
Huffington Post said it DesJarlais did not deny the tape's contents. Rather, he depicted its revelation as a "desperate personal attack" to thwart his re-election bid.
What hogwash: it reveals his character. His divorce was a central focus in his campaign against Davis two years ago, but the newly revealed tape wasn't mentioned in that campaign. And his divorce proceedings haven't been a theme of this year's campaign against him by Democratic state Sen. Eric Stewart. But the tape should reignite debate over DesJarlais' character, veracity and personal conduct.
The Huffington Post account said court records on DesJarlais' 2001 divorce also confirmed the claim two years ago that DesJarlais, before the divorce, had sat for hours outside his wife's bedroom door with a gun in his mouth and threatening suicide, and in another instance had "dry-fired" a gun outside her bedroom door. DesJarlais had denied those reports in the 2010 campaign.
Court records further showed, the Huffington Post wrote, that the judge who presided over DesJarlais' divorce noted the divorce suit was filed "based upon his first indiscretions."
The question now is whether the revelation of DesJarlais' affairs and his pressure on his mistress then to seek an abortion will alter the course of the current campaign. Given Wednesday's disclosure, it would be an embarrassment to the 4th District to return the deceitful, unethical, philandering physician. If 4th District voters value honesty and upstanding character, they will vote him out of office and install Sen. Stewart, an insurance agent with a decent reputation.