MAD AS HELL: Should McCain Sport a Scarlet Letter? 

Republicans are campaigning on their own Audacity of Hope. They are hoping no one will have the audacity to bring up the unmentionable: John McCain is The Adulterer and Cindy McCain is The Other Woman. They are hopeful that voters are so consumed by their struggles of filling up gas tanks and putting untainted food on the table, that the memory of that atrocious summer of self-righteousness from ten years ago has long been forgotten. But what goes around comes around.

It was the Summer of '98, that the Gladiators of Virtue were riding high. They were strutting their stuff with Ken Starr and his seven million dollar witch-hunt. They had Bill Clinton just where they wanted him. He had done the hot and nasty with a young intern, and was lying about it, so by God, he was going to pay for his sins. Many of those sultans of sanctimony, who are now surrogates and staff for the McCain campaign, have strangely become as quiet as little church mice when it comes to discussing the fact that John McCain has always had a reputation for being as horny as a three-balled tomcat. Loving the sinner, but hating the sin, the Moralizing Crusaders in the Republican party have suddenly laid down their swords.

It is downright hilarious to hear Senator Lindsey Graham wax rhapsodic about the personal integrity of the senator from Arizona. His pronouncements of McCain's principled, virtuous wisdom are as convoluted as a stand-up routine on The Comedy Channel. This is the same Lindsey Graham who rose to prominence in 1998 as a manager in the House prosecution and impeachment trial. Never hesitating to intone with umbrage the moral malfeasance of Bill Clinton, Graham possessed high-toned puffery that was legendary. Forced to discuss every subject from thongs to fellatio in the House impeachment hearings, poor Lindsey shouldered the burden of more righteous indignation than any one man should ever have to bear. Ten years hence, however, he stands reverentially beside his buddy McCain, as if fooling around and family abandonment have simply ceased to be biggies.

After the infamous Senate floor blistering of the President for his sexual affairs, one might conclude that Senator Joe Lieberman, a Republican by any other name, would be much too ashamed ever to support a candidate whose moral compass had directed him to cheat on his wife and leave his family. Yet, Lieberman, seemingly ever-present on the campaign trail, advises McCain and lavishes him with such obsequious praise that the affair between John and Cindy seems considered to be nothing more than a dusty memory that is gone with the wind.

Imagine, for one moment, that it had been Barack Obama instead of John McCain who had cheated on his wife by having multiple affairs. Suppose it was Barack Obama who had married his mistress, a younger heiress of a billion dollar beer empire only a month after the ink was dry on the divorce papers. Pretend it was Michelle Obama instead of Cindy McCain who had been so addicted to painkillers that she stole money from her own charity and had been investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The vilifications, smears, and berating from conservatives would be louder than a 747 takeoff. The castigating and crucifixions by the Limbaughs and O'Reillys of the world would never end. Faux piety and bellicosity from the pumped up blowhards in the religious right would flow harder than the flooding waters of the Mississippi.

But the Family Values Party has made new rules that even Woody Allen could love. "The heart wants what the heart wants." Judging the awful personal misconduct committed by a Republican is distasteful and off base. Judging the awful personal misconduct committed by a Democrat is the necessary application of social cost. It's the same Pharisaical stuff we should always expect, because when it comes to hypocrisy, Republicans are in high cotton in any season.

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