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April 19, 2014

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jon ralston:

The galling letter Ensign sent to raise money for his legal defense

John Ensign is a man of many talents, not the least of which are his skill at twisting the truth and of putting on a false front to the world.

Nevada’s junior senator has been morally superior in public while morally inferior in private, and he created a web of deceit that ensnared friends and supporters now being punished for his indiscretions. Facing an ethics probe and a federal investigation, Ensign has tried to make his scandal about a moment of human weakness (that lasted for months) and nothing more.

But it has always been about much more and now, showing the chutzpah that has allowed him to keep his job while others suffer for it, Ensign has taken his one-man show to a new nadir with revised spin from this avatar of personal responsibility: The liberals are out to get me.

At long last, Senator, have you no sense of … oh, never mind.

In a letter Ensign sent out last week to prospective donors to his legal defense fund, the senator showed that not only does he lack self-awareness, but he thinks most people who receive the letter are ignoramuses.

Let’s go through it passage by passage, shall we?

“As I am sure you are aware, I admitted last year to making the worst mistake of my life.

“In addition to causing great pain to my family, friends, and supporters, that mistake has also resulted in a difficult legal battle.

“I have taken responsibility for my actions and worked hard to become a better husband, father, friend, and senator, but I have been accused of doing things I absolutely did not do.”

Where to begin?

That mistake — this is just about sex! — did not lead to a “difficult legal battle.” Ensign is in legal jeopardy not because he slept with his wife’s best friend and his best friend’s wife — that never sounds less grotesque, does it? — but because of how he tried to cover it up, pay off the couple through Mom and Dad and then try to hush up the cuckolded husband by importuning people he regulates to hire him.

The vast majority of people, I think, would forgive Ensign for weakness of the flesh — the social conservative base he pandered to, notwithstanding. But his manipulation of the lives of Cindy and Doug Hampton and his shameful attempt to play the victim now have outraged many who might have been forgiving.

As for “being accused of things I absolutely did not do,” I ask: Really? Do tell. All we’ve heard is “no comment” for more than a year. What is there in the past that should induce us to believe him?

It gets better:

“A liberal organization, CREW, has filed an ethics complaint against me, which has led to considerable legal fees. I have paid those fees personally up to this point. And as difficult as it is for me to ask you, I need your help to refute these charges and wage a successful legal defense.”

Amazing how personal responsibility disappears from paragraph to paragraph. A liberal organization? Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington? Really?

“The case against Sen. Ensign has nothing to do with the fact that he’s a Republican, and everything to do with the fact that he’s corrupt,” CREW boss Melanie Sloan said. “Much like CREW has called for Congressman Charles Rangel to step down, it’s time for Sen. Ensign to look in the mirror, stop blaming other people, finally take responsibly for his actions, and resign.”

Exactly.

I wonder how the people who have had to hire lawyers because of subpoenas from the ethics panel or Justice Department feel seeing Ensign whine about his legal fees. They don’t have the luxury of being a senator who can put the arm on people he has dominion over for money to defend him against charges of trying to get Doug Hampton lobbying jobs by putting the arm on people he has dominion over. At long last, Senator ...

My favorite part of the missive, though, is the footnote:

“If you are a registered lobbyist, a foreign agent, foreign national, or U.S. Senate employee, please disregard this letter as you are unable under Senate rules to contribute to such a legal expense trust fund.”

So now he has respect for laws covering lobbyists after, according to Doug Hampton and others, he conspired to violate rules relating to lobbyists? That is rich.

I shook my head as I read CREW’s call for Ensign to resign. Why?

Of all the myriad character traits Ensign possesses — skillful liar, world-class hypocrite, brilliant poseur — resignation would require him to have the one thing he so clearly lacks:

A conscience.

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