Our topic for today is hypocrisy. The scene is — where else? — Congress.
This week the House of Representatives voted 237-189 to make it a crime for a doctor to perform an abortion on a woman who has been pregnant more than 20 weeks. Victory for the anti-choice forces. One of whom was apparently very interested in maintaining all options when he thought his own girlfriend was expecting.
Meet Tim Murphy, a Republican congressman from the Pittsburgh suburbs who has a doctorate in psychology and is the co-author of a couple of books with titles like “Overcoming Passive-Aggression.” He’s married but — prodded by information revealed at his lover’s divorce trial — he admits having strayed with another psychologist.
Murphy is a co-sponsor of the anti-abortion bill. At about the same time it was passing, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published a note his mistress had texted in January, complaining about the way he kept putting pro-life messages on his Facebook page “when you had no issue asking me to abort our unborn child just last week. …”
Whoops. This is not actually a unique story. There’s a history of lawmakers who are eager to restrict abortions in every case not involving their own personal sex life.
Back in the ‘90s Rep. Bob Barr, R-Georgia, was targeted by his ex-wife, who claimed he had helped her get an abortion while they were married. It was a particularly embarrassing episode since Barr was so dedicated to the anti-choice movement he once said he’d stop his wife from having an abortion even if she had gotten pregnant via a rape. (This was a different ex-wife from the one who announced Barr had taken her to the abortionist. One of the things the various stars of this story have in common is a certain friskiness.)
More recently, Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tennessee, who bragged about his “100 percent pro-life voting record,” was confronted with pesky divorce records that showed he’d encouraged women to have abortions, including his ex-wife and a patient with whom he was having an affair. DesJarlais, a physician, is still in Congress and this week he was right there voting again against other people’s abortion rights.
In the case of Tim Murphy, the girlfriend’s pregnancy was a false alarm. But the Post-Gazette texts showed him apologizing to her about the anti-abortion Facebook posts. He then denied having written them and blamed everything on “staff.”
Murphy’s district is so safe he could be re-elected if he eloped with a gerbil. But the House Republicans were reported to be talking about getting him to resign, and he announced he’d leave at the end of his term.
Murphy is not one of those genial lawmakers whose affable demeanor makes him popular with his peers. Or even with his own office. The Post-Gazette also came up with a memo, apparently written by his chief of staff, complaining about constant turnover due to his “hostile, erratic, unstable, angry, aggressive and abusive behavior.”
There was also a reference to an evening in which Murphy drove some of his staff members to an event in the pouring rain. His “dangerous and erratic” performance behind the wheel was possibly due to the fact that, according to the memo, he was also reading his iPad, playing YouTube videos and texting.