Next move is up to McAllister

By By Jim Beam / American Press

Now that some of the dust has settled,

where are we on the Vance McAllister situation? The Republican

establishment wants

the U.S. congressman from north Louisiana to resign, but it has a

credibility problem. Many of his constituents are willing

to give him some slack. Others are reserving judgment, and they

may be among the most rational of all three groups.

McAllister earned the dubious nickname

as the state’s “kissing congressman” for being seen on video embracing

one of his aides,

a good friend’s wife. The incident occurred last December and has

gained national exposure, but has created surprisingly little

shock among those who have seen it. Maybe that’s because scandal

has become somewhat routine for the Pelican State.

Whatever the case, no one should forget

that other states have their shady side as well. U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford

of South Carolina

is a case in point. Sanford was governor of his state from 2003 to

2011. He disappeared for a week in 2009, and when he returned

he admitted he had been unfaithful to his wife, finding a “soul

mate” in Argentina.

Sanford was censured, but he served out his gubernatorial term. He survived the scandal and in 2013 was elected to Congress

with 54 percent of the vote.

Like Sanford, McAllister confessed to his indiscretion.

“I have fallen short as a husband and a father, and I feel more ashamed than you can imagine,” he said. “I’ve asked them for

forgiveness, and I’m asking forgiveness from my constituents who elected me to serve them.”

Then came that first group we talked about, those who have called for McAllister’s resignation. Chief among those making early

judgments were Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal and Roger Villere, chairman of the state GOP.

A host of writers and observers have pointed out that both men favored state Rep. Neil Riser, R-Columbia, who ended up losing

a congressional election runoff against McAllister by a wide margin. The two were competing for the 5th District seat left

vacant with the resignation of former U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-Quitman.

Jindal and Villere have been accused of

having a double standard. They gave U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., a

pass after his

name surfaced in a Washington, D.C., prostitution scandal.

Obviously, Vitter fits their qualifications for the kind of

uncompromising

Republicans they want in Congress. Both men have refused to answer

their critics on why they never attacked Vitter or called

for his resignation.

McAllister didn’t fit the Jindal-Villere version of GOP conservatism. McAllister thought the state should expand its Medicaid

health care program for poor and low-income residents. It’s something Jindal has consistently and vigorously opposed.

Joshua Stockley, an associate professor of political science at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, said, “He (McAllister)

kind of marches to the beat of his own drum.”

U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, talked about the incident.

“I know this is a difficult time for

Vance, his family and his constituents,” Richmond told The

Times-Picayune. “In his short

time here in Washington, Vance has shown the rare courage to work

across the aisle to benefit the people of his district.

I realize he must earn back their trust, but if he does so I am

confident that he can emerge from this shortcoming a better

man and a more devoted collaborator for the people of Louisiana.”

Then, there are McAllister’s constituents. They have come down on both sides of the issue, but haven’t been harsh critics.

The Rev. Danny Chase of the Christian

Life Church in Monroe, told the News-Star newspaper, “I’m not taking up

for the congressman;

what he did was wrong. But I just feel like there is a conspiracy

to bring Vance down and destroy him. For someone on his

staff to do that (release the video) is wrong.”

Terry Parker, a businessman in the community of Start, told The Associated Press he voted for McAllister because of his emphasis

on biblical morals. “He did this to himself,” Parker said. “But it’s dirty, dirty politics being done to him, too.”

Pamela Nolan, who was wearing a T-shirt

from her Baptist church in Start, told The AP she abhors marital

infidelity of any

kind. But, she added, “What laws has he broken? What trust has he

violated other than his wife’s? ... The next election should

be the determinant of how we feel about it.”

And that brings us to the last group,

those who are reserving judgment. Time may not heal this incident for

McAllister and

those he has hurt, but it does give everyone an opportunity to see

how it all unfolds before coming down hard on either side.

Will McAllister’s wife and family, for example, forgive him and

stand with him publicly as Vitter’s wife did?

Two biblical passages come to mind.

Luke 6:37 says, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will

be forgiven.”

John 8:7 talks about the time Jesus was asked whether an adulteress should be stoned.

“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her,” Jesus said.

If McAllister runs for re-election this November, those are words for his constituents and his critics to think about.

Jim Beam, the retired editor of the American Press, has covered people and politics for more than five decades. Contact him at 494-4025 or jbeam@americanpress.com.