Just a week ago, revelations that Josh Duggar had molested five underage girls, including four of his sisters, blew the lid off the Duggar megafamily’s public image of absolute sexual purity and exposed the bigoted hypocrisy of their hate campaigns against LGBTQs. Author and columnist Dan Savage, who famously redefined ‘family values’ Republican Rick Santorum’s last name, has publicly ruminated that the Duggar name should also obtain a new meaning appropriate to the scandal.
— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) May 29, 2015
Then this week, a federal indictment against former House Speaker Dennis Hastert has revealed that he was paying for the silence of a former student to the tune of millions of dollars.
One of the officials, who would not speak publicly about the federal charges in Chicago, said “Individual A,” as the person is described in Thursday’s federal indictment, was a man and that the alleged misconduct was unrelated to Hastert’s tenure in Congress. The actions date to Hastert’s time as a Yorkville, Ill., high school wrestling coach and teacher, the official said.
[…] Asked why Hastert was making the payments, the official said it was to conceal Hastert’s past relationship with the male. “It was sex,’’ the source said. The other official confirmed that the misconduct involved sexual abuse.
Before he was ousted by the GOP’s 2006 election losses, Hastert had been very close to the scandal over Rep. Mark Foley sending suggestive emails and instant messages to teenage House pages — so close that the House Ethics Committee declared Hastert had been “willingly ignorant” in his failure to intervene. At the time, Washington rumors once again recalled his time as a high school wrestling coach and there were whispers that Hastert was having an affair with his male chief of staff.
Then last year, there was this very strange moment during a Hastert appearance on C-SPAN:
“Hello Denny,” the caller said.
“Hey, how are you doing?” Hastert responded.
“Pretty good. Remember me from Yorkville?” the caller answered. The caller paused, then laughed and apparently hung up.
“I think he’s gone. Let’s go to Ohio,” host Pedro Echevarria said, moving on with the segment.
To be clear, Hastert hasn’t been indicted for long-ago sexual misconduct, but for lying to the FBI about his years-long history of payoffs to that unknown person from Yorkville. Or as Dan Savage would say, Hastert is in trouble for decades of Duggary to cover up his wrestling rager.
This indictment means that, following the GOP’s failed impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton, Hastert became the third Republican Speaker of the House in a row to leave Congress with a sex scandal hanging over his head, even though we didn’t know about it at the time. First Newt Gingrich, who later acknowledged carrying on an affair even while leading the impeachment effort against Clinton, left after 1998 midterm voters handed his party a stinging rebuke; Bob Livingston of Louisiana never actually got to take over as Speaker, resigning over his past extramarital affairs on the same day that the House voted to impeach Clinton. Now Hastert, who became Speaker as a result of that chaos, turns out to have spent his time in office covering up past misconduct, too — that’s three Duggars in a row for ‘the party of personal responsibility,’ a veritable hat trick of hypocrisy.
The empirical evidence suggests that whenever a bigot declares gay people are bad for children, until proven otherwise our automatic assumption ought to be that said bigot is the only actual child molester anyone should worry about. Whenever a politician talks disapprovingly about the way other people have sex, it should trigger an immediate assumption on everyone’s part that said politician is Duggaring their own peccadilloes, close crimes, and misdemeanors. Yet this is still somehow not the default response of our culture yet.
At what point do these stories cease to be a bunch of outstanding outliers and become a Duggaristic pattern? When do we get to acknowledge that sexual hypocrisy is in fact a constant theme of conservative politics — that every single time a Republican or ‘family values’ representative speaks to the bigoted mythology of homophobia or transphobia, they are closeting skeletons like a Duggar? The answer is that this moment will only happen when we have a word for it, and perhaps now we do.