Chuck Muth: A promise keeper breaks his promise |

Chuck Muth: A promise keeper breaks his promise

Chuck Muth
For the Nevada Appeal

What is it with top Republican elected officials in Nevada and their marriages?

First there was Gov. Jim Gibbons filing for divorce from his second wife, the first lady, amidst allegations of marital infidelity and something about a ferret in a phone booth. And now we have Sen. John Ensign admitting to cheating on his wife. Is there something in the water?

Actually, a male politician admitting an affair these days is no longer much of a big deal unless the mistress is underaged or a boy or both. My, how far we’ve sunk as a society since the uproar over Jimmy Carter admitting to Playboy in 1976 to merely lusting after women in his heart.

But the issue of hypocrisy in politics still cuts. And in Ensign’s case, the hypocrisy is thick enough to require a Ginsu.

Recall that early in Ensign’s career he was rather sanctimonious about being a member of the Promise Keepers organization. Members of that organization embrace “Seven Promises,” including a promise to practice “spiritual, moral, ethical, and sexual purity,” as well as “building strong marriages and families.”

Indeed, the Washington Post noted way back in September of 1999 that “Christian politicians and evangelical leaders commonly follow an unspoken rule not to meet behind closed doors with women staff members or travel alone with them,” adding that “John Ensign, who is running for Senate in Nevada will not be alone in a car with a woman.”

Yes, the times sure have changed, haven’t they?

Oh, and let’s not forget about Ensign calling on Republican Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, to resign from the Senate in 2007 after that little toe-tapping episode in a Minnesota airport bathroom stall, stating that such behavior was “not the behavior a United States senator should be engaged in.”

Apparently having an affair with a married woman who not only works for you but is married to another staffer who also works for you is OK.

And when asked whether or not Sen. David Vitter, R-La., – who admitted around that same time to committing a “serious sin” with a D.C. hooker while in the House of Representatives – should also resign, Ensign said no, explaining that Vitter “never said exactly what he did” and did whatever it was he did “before he got into the United States Senate.”

Well, if Ensign will now hold himself to the same standards he set for Sens. Craig and Vitter – especially since he has said exactly what he did, that it was behavior a U.S. senator should not have been engaged in, and because it happened while he was a U.S. senator – then he will resign not just from his Senate leadership post, but from the Senate itself.

Don’t hold your breath waiting.

• Chuck Muth, of Carson City, is president and CEO of Citizen Outreach and a political blogger. Read his views Fridays on the Appeal Opinion page or visit You can e-mail him at