Should skinny-dipping get you kicked out of Congress?
A Kansas Republican apologizes for taking a naked, late-night swim while traveling in Israel. But conservative defenders say he has nothing to be sorry about
The FBI has investigated reports that a group of freshman GOP members of Congress — one of them naked — took a late-night swim in the Sea of Galilee during a fact-finding trip to Israel last summer, according to Politico. The swimming party included about 20 representatives, staffers, and members of their families. Some Republicans said they were just cooling off; others insisted that they jumped in because of the religious significance of the waters, on which the Bible says Jesus walked; a few acknowledged that alcohol played a role. The skinny-dipper, Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.), told Politico in a statement that he apologized for "any embarrassment I have caused for my colleagues and constituents." Should he step down, too?
This is unforgivable: Spare us the "lame excuses," says Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto at Politico. There is no justification for this kind of behavior. "Put your big boy and big girl pants on and admit that this was a grave error of judgment." And if Yoder's constituents "get overheated from the racy details of this junket" and toss him out in November, he has only himself to blame."Congressional skinny-dipping in Israel?"
It's ridiculous to treat this as a scandal: "This is a really silly story," says Jonah Goldberg at National Review, "and I find it absolutely bizarre" that people are talking about skinny-dipping as if it's a crime. As John Podhoretz tweeted: "The Sea of Galilee is a big lake, not a basin of holy water." The real scandal here is that the FBI wasted tax money investigating this "non-event.""Congressman forgot bathing suit at Lake of Gennesaret"
But if the swimmers were Democrats, Republicans would be furious: This episode is hardly the end of the world, "but it is embarrassing" that our lawmakers acted "as if they were starring in a Girls Gone Wild video," says Erick Erickson at Red State. And were these midnight swimmers Democrats, we conservatives would be out to get them. "We should not surrender our intellectual honesty just because they are Republicans." In times like these, partisans on both sides "would be better off if they lost the need to instinctively defend" every action of their political allies — especially when the behavior is indefensible."Be ashamed"