GOP wants 'kissing congressman' Vance McAllister out. Is he toast?

Congressman Vance McAllister's videotaped smooching of a staffer 'is an embarrassment, and he should resign,' says Bobby Jindal, the Republican governor of his own state. Harsh stuff.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP/File
Then-newly-elected Rep. Vance McAllister (R) of Louisiana before being sworn in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 21, 2013. McAllister's videotaped smooching of a staffer 'is an embarrassment,' says Bobby Jindal, the Republican governor of Louisiana.

Rep. Vance McAllister (R) of Louisiana, the “kissing congressman” caught on video snuggling with a staffer, is now facing enormous pressure from his own party to resign right now.

As in, immediately if not sooner. Don’t pass Go. Don’t collect another congressional pay stub. Don’t wait for November to see if voters will forgive his smooching someone not his wife.

Consider this tough statement issued Thursday by GOP Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal: “Congressman McAllister’s behavior is an embarrassment, and he should resign. He says he wants privacy to work on his issues with his family. The best way to get privacy and work on putting his family back together is to resign from Congress.”

And this one from the Louisiana state Republican Party: “Mr. McAllister’s extreme hypocrisy is an example of why ordinary people are fed up with politics. A breach of trust of this magnitude can only be rectified by an immediate resignation. He has embarrassed our party, our state and the institution of Congress.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio said pointedly that McAllister “has a decision to make.”

“I expect all members to be held to the highest ethical standards, and this is no different,” Boehner said at his weekly news conference.

This is rough stuff. You’d expect Democrats to be calling for the resignation of a Republican caught in scandal, and vice versa. But when your own party wants you gone, is it possible to survive in office?

Technically, yes. They can’t force McAllister to put pen to paper and quit. But from a practical standpoint McAllister, seems a soon-to-be-ex-congressman walking. At this point it would be almost unprecedented for him to stay in office and run for reelection in the fall.

“There is no powering through this episode, no matter what the Robertson family of Duck Dynasty fame has to say on the matter. To fight on would result in McAllister becoming a politically radioactive pariah within his caucus and almost certain defeat in the November general election,” writes Mike Bayham on the right-leaning Louisiana political blog “The Hayride.”

Yes, yes, perhaps the Louisiana state Republican Party is being a bit selective in its outrage here. Seven years ago, when Sen. David Vitter (R) of Louisiana showed up on the call logs of a D.C. prostitution ring, the state party didn’t ask him to quit. Then-Congressman Jindal did not either. Left-leaning groups are trying to score a few points by dredging up this old incident and attempting to connect it to the McAllister affair.

But if you want consistency, make pudding. Politics is a matter of gauging opportunity and cost every day, and at this point McAllister is a much bigger drag on the GOP than Vitter was.

First, there’s video. One word: “YouTube.”

Second, McAllister would have to face voters in a few months. Senator Vitter had years to put the matter behind him before running for reelection.

Third, Vitter was much better at crisis management. He admitted to missteps, called party elders in contrition, and then went silent on the matter. McAllister has hinted that he’ll call in the FBI to investigate who leaked the tape. And he hasn't reached out to party officials to tell them what he’s going to do.

The bottom line is that Vitter was a state insider and McAllister is not. McAllister was an upset winner who defeated an official establishment candidate in a so-called “jungle” run-off primary. If he sticks it out and tries to win reelection he’ll get national media attention that would tarnish the GOP brand at a time when the party seems poised to keep the House and even win Senate control.

For the Republican Party, the stakes in the “kissing congressman” matter thus seem high. If he runs he’ll get no money or support from the GOP. (Of course, he won without the first time.) If he somehow gets reelected he may sit in his office wondering why that office is in the basement and has no window, and why his committee assignments are so bad, and whether the Republican whip will ever return his phone calls.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.