Here we go again: Another "family values Republican," Rep. Mark Souder of Indiana, has been caught having an affair with one of his (female) aides. But so far, the story lacks the zazz you really need for it to become a front-pager. Like tickle fights.
Why did this happen? One explanation is that Indiana is only a couple of hundred miles from Iowa, where they legalized gay marriage last year, and Souder's own union couldn't withstand the values-undermining force of gay people being allowed to marry nearby. But that's probably not it.
While reliable statistics aren't easy to come by, let's make a low estimate and say that in a given year, 5 percent of the married population is stepping out on their spouses. In a Congress with 535 members, that would give us 27 adulterers per year. And its probably true that being a powerful and somewhat narcissistic person who has in his employ a rotating cast of comely 20-somethings who practically worship the ground you walk on just might increase that number a little bit. Let's push it up to 8 percent. That would mean that in a given year, 43 members of Congress are having affairs. Now, if you get caught having an affair and you're an accountant or a plumber, it doesn't hit the newspapers. But it does if you're a member of Congress.
I'm not saying we shouldn't heap ridicule on Mark Souder -- have at it! -- but we shouldn't be surprised that this happens every couple of months.
-- Paul Waldman
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