Although Paul Stanley, having finally responded to mounting pressure that he resign, was slated to cease being the state senator for District 31 on Monday, August 10th, his shadow still hangs over the Tennessee General Assembly, in general,
and — some would say — over the moralistic wing of the Republican Party, in particular.
Stanley's resignation letter to Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey last week was as formally bare bones as his subsequent letter to his constituents in Germantown, Cordova, and East Memphis was inflected with sentiment. In the latter, Stanley said most of the things that needed to be said, among them this: "I humbly ask your forgiveness for my indiscretion. The public criticism I have received thus far is well deserved. Even before these matters became public, I have been concentrating my efforts on rebuilding and repairing the damage I have done to my wife and two great children. They (and not me) are the victims in this situation, and I am to blame. I recognize that it is my actions that have brought this embarrassment on my family."
All well and good. And, after promising to "make amends" and asking his constituents "to respect my wife and children's privacy" to spare them "the humiliation or embarrassment for my wrong doing and indiscretion," Stanley went on to say, "Admitting failure is difficult but necessary if one expects to ever better themselves by allowing God to work His will in their life."
We do not propose to be cynical about this situation, nor judgmental about further revelations concerning Stanley, which even now are proliferating in the Nashville media and depict him as not merely guilty of misconduct with his legislative intern and of taking the explicit photographs that led to his being blackmailed. It would almost seem from the reports now surfacing that the bashful-seeming Stanley had been determined while serving in Nashville to transform himself from Ichabod Crane to Brahm Bones, the manly stud who was that poor schoolteacher's persecutor. As he ascended in power, becoming chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, Stanley yielded more and more to temptation — and to a measure of hypocrisy that may, to give the stricken legislator his due, have been less premeditated than unconscious.
Yet the hypocrisy was there. Stanley was evidently lecturing a representative of Planned Parenthood on the virtue of abstinence and the sanctity of marriage on the very eve, last April, of his confrontation with the blackmailer who is charged with demanding $10,000 as the price of allowing Stanley to keep his indiscretions secret.
We hope that Paul Stanley's moral redemption continues apace, but we would suggest that his redemption — and that of the enablers among his legislative mates — should extend not merely to the realm of personal conduct and to the concerns of family but to the secular issues that legislators must concern themselves with. As long as a repentant Stanley chooses to invoke the Deity, let us remind his legislative colleagues of that line of Scripture that commands concern for "the least among these, my brethren."
The breach of that principle has, after all, been the true sin of the increasingly hard-edged, self-serving General Assembly in recent years.