Scott DesJarlais is a rabidly pro-life congressman from a reliably red district in Tennessee. He’s also a doctor who cheated on his wife with at least two of his patients, and was caught on tape encouraging one of them to have an abortion. In a rational world, you’d expect him to lose the primary election following those revelations. You’d be wrong.
I’ll let Ed Brayton (Dispatches from the Culture Wars) take it from here…
“Rep. Scott DesJarlais, who pressured a woman—one of two patients he admitted having affairs with—to get an abortion in the 1990s, appears to have narrowly avoided becoming the fourth Republican incumbent to lose a primary this year. With 100 percent of precincts reporting on Thursday, he led state Sen. Jim Tracy by 35 votes—34,787 to 34,752. (The results are not official and a recount is possible, although the state has no law mandating one in such circumstances.) The abortion revelation emerged after DesJarlais’ 2012 primary, when the only thing standing between him and reelection in the deeply Republican district was a token Democratic candidate in the general election.
But after his reelection, the dominoes continued to fall. Divorce transcripts released two weeks after the race revealed that he and his first wife had decided to abort two pregnancies. That proved a problem for the congressman, who is adamantly pro-life: Per his website, “Congressman DesJarlais believes that all life should be cherished and protected. He has received a 100% score by the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the oldest and the largest national pro-life organization in the United States.”
My favorite part of this was that his opponent put out an ad calling attention to DesJarlais’ hypocrisy and this was his response:
DesJarlais spokesman Robert Jameson called the piece “just the sort of disgusting gutter politics we’d expected from [U.S. House Democratic leader] Nancy Pelosi and her allies in Washington.”
Yeah, that’s disgusting. No, not the fact that he cheated on his wife multiple times despite his allegedly “pro-family” principles. Not the fact that he did it with his patients, which can get your medical license yanked and is probably the single biggest ethical breach a doctor can make. Not the fact that he encouraged one of his mistresses to get an abortion despite his self-declared opposition to abortion. No, it’s disgusting to point out that vile behavior. But remember, DesJarlais is exactly the kind of guy who lectures liberals about moral relativism and says his religious values guide him.
If those things don’t disqualify you from winning an election full of allegedly pro-family, pro-life voters, what the hell could possibly do so?
My question exactly.