Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Murphy's Lesson the Congressman Had No Choice but to Resign

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Murphy's Lesson the Congressman Had No Choice but to Resign

Article excerpt

If voters demanded absolute sincerity from elected officials at all times, nothing would ever get done in politics, anywhere. That's not to cave in to cynicism - it's to acknowledge human nature and recognize that voters can accept a certain level of truth-shading as the price of getting things done. The case of U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, however, tested even his most steadfast supporters. Reporting by the Post-Gazette's Paula Reed Ward showed the Republican from Upper St. Clair displaying an intolerable level of hypocrisy. Mr. Murphy had no choice but to announce on Thursday that he would resign.

The story is messy. Mr. Murphy, 65, had an extramarital affair with a 32-year-old woman. Their relationship came to light as a result of the woman's divorce case, brought by her husband. According to text-message exchanges between the two of them, she told him earlier this year that she feared she had become pregnant. Mr. Murphy - a strong anti-abortion politician - agreed with the idea of her terminating the pregnancy. The text messages are frank."And you have zero issue posting your pro-life stance all over the place when you had no issue asking me to abort our unborn child just last week when we thought that was one of the options," the woman wrote, making reference to an anti-abortion statement posted on Facebook from his office's public account. Mr. Murphy replied: "I get what you say about my March for life messages. I've never written them. Staff does them. I read them and winced. I told staff don't write any more. I will."

The pregnancy turned out to be a false alarm. But the damage done to Mr. Murphy's reputation is real. He was justifiably criticized from the right and the left. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, whose deeply conservative group has lauded the congressman, called the story "disappointing and disturbing" and said that his "inappropriate personal behavior has public ramifications [and] opens him up to charges of hypocrisy. …

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