Hastert and Duggar sitting in a tree

Dennis Hastert

Dennis Hastert

After the recent sexual revelations involving Josh Duggar and Dennis Hastert, businesses that replace windows in glass houses are doing very well. Both the Duggar and Hastert cases are about hypocrisy, and psychologists might also say they involve loudly criticizing others’ sexual behavior to cover one’s own past behavior. But both cases offer some sharp political lessons:

The Duggar case is, politically, the simpler of the two. Josh Duggar and his family make their living off of being “pro-family” and anti-gay, especially gay men, even labeling them “child predators.” Josh Duggar was the Executive Director of the lobbying arm of the anti-gay Family Research Council. The Duggars are high-profile Republicans, and pal around with Mike Huckabee (who also pals around with admitted sexual predator of underage girls Ted Nugent) and virtually all of the current GOP presidential candidates and hopefuls. Perhaps that’s why Huckabee recently defended Josh Duggar’s actions.

Additionally, Josh Duggar’s mother, Michelle, recorded a robocall during the 2012 elections in which she stated that a proposed Fayetteville, Arkansas LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance  would permit “males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls.” This was well after Michelle Duggar knew that Josh had sexually molested several of his sisters, who were children, as well as another female child who was a family friend. Josh Duggar later joked about incest involving his younger sister in an interview recorded in 2008, saying “well, we are from Arkansas.” It seems Josh Duggar was unaware of Messaging Maxim #3: There’s an Invention Called Video.

The case of Dennis Hastert is more politically rich. In 1999, then Congressman Hastert became Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives after Newt Gingrich and Robert Livingston stepped down due to Republican Congressional losses in the 1998 elections and marital infidelity, respectively. Hastert’s leadership of Bill Clinton‘s impeachment included criticizing Clinton’s “inability to abide by the law.” Hastert’s speakership was also marred by criticism over personally profiting from Congressional spending earmarks, rule-breaking Medicare votes and hands-off treatment of Republican Congressman Mark Foley, who was caught sending sexually suggestive emails to a male 16 year-old former Congressional page.

In the space of just 24 hours, first it was revealed that a federal grand jury was bringing charges against Hastert for making illegal banking transactions (ironically, in violation of the Patriot Act that Hastert helped pass) and lying to the FBI. Then it was reported that Hastert undertook this illegal activity to cover up his sexual molestation of a male student (most likely underage) when Hastert was a high school teacher and wrestling coach before he ran for Congress. Then one accuser turned into two accusers, and then “several” accusers. Dennis Hastert might turn out to be the Bill Cosby of the House.

What these episodes say about the Republican Party is that, at minimum, its claim to be the party of “family values” is a joke. This could even complicate the Republicans’ 2016 election chances. Some religious conservatives who truly believe in family values might be turned off at their party’s hypocrisy, and stay home on Election Day. Mike Huckabee’s Republican rivals for president might attack Huckabee over his support for Josh Duggar and Ted Nugent. The hypocrisy of three Republican House Speakers leading the impeachment of Bill Clinton while each Speaker was hiding his own sexual misconduct could lead more voters to view Clinton as the victim of an illegitimate witch hunt, which could help Hillary Clinton‘s presidential prospects.

Finally, what might be said about the minds of people who focus on sexual behavior of, and make false sexual charges against, others when they themselves have sexual secrets to hide, is best left for the psychologists.

Image by Doug Bowman, used under Creative Commons license. http://is.gd/B2E5Jo

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