The Chattanooga Times-Free Press and the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal both have weekend stories on the 4th Congressional District races, including comments of voters reacting – or in some cases not reacting – to revelations about Republican Congressman Scott DesJarlais’ conversation on abortion with a woman after a sexual encounter.
Sample from the TFP report:
Staunchly Republican and socially conservative, Rebecca Miller of Cleveland, Tenn., is troubled by the revelation that Republican Rep. Scott DesJarlais pressured a woman with whom he’d been sexually involved to get an abortion.
“It’s extremely hypocritical,” the 23-year-old said. “You can’t argue with that at all.”
Miller is finding it difficult to take the apparently abortion rights phone call made by the Jasper physician to the unnamed woman and square it with his staunchly anti-abortion stance in speeches and his voting record in Congress.
The result is that Miller is considering leaving her ballot blank in the Nov. 6 election when it comes to the 4th District race. She wants to take a look first, though, at the positions of DesJarlais’ Democratic challenger, state Sen. Eric Stewart.
…David Wasserman, who follows U.S. House races for The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan publication that analyzes and handicaps federal races, said on Friday that the revelations’ impact on DesJarlais is an “open question.”
“We weren’t expecting this [4th District] to be a competitive race, but we’re keeping an open mind,” Wasserman said.
Another interesting commentary comes from conservative blogger David Oatney, commenting on DesJarlais’ defense of his remarks in the transcript. An excerpt:
Here is a newsflash for the good Congressman: Whether there was an “agreement” or not, he was a married man and he was quite obviously sleeping around. Whether he thought that was acceptable behaviour at the time is irrelevant to whether or not this woman was his mistress. He was married, and this lady was his extra-marital love interest. The traditional term for a female extra-marital love interest is that she is a man’s mistress.
DesJarlais further states that his primary reason for bringing up the issue of his mistress having an abortion and for pushing the issue in such strong terms is because he says he believed that his mistress was lying about her pregnancy. Since DesJarlais is a doctor, he certainly may have had reason to suspect if the woman he was seeing was lying.
However, the honorable thing to do would not have been to push the issue of having an abortion, but to push the matter of parental responsibility. Since he and his then-wife were divorcing, there should have been no problem with him demanding to be a part of his unborn child’s life, and pressing the matter even while the child was still in the womb. Certainly if this writer were in a similar situation, he would demand to have a role in the life of his unborn child. Scott DesJarlais certainly had the ability and the resources to press his claim hard, and if his mistress was lying about being pregnant and he expected that, then the lie would certainly be revealed in very short order.
Instead, we are left with a recording of Scott DesJarlais (one that he now says he didn’t know was being made) seeming to insist that his mistress abort his unborn child. What’s the problem with that in light of what Scott DesJarlais is now telling us? Because the one thing DesJarlais isn’t saying is that his actions were completely wrong and inconsistent with his belief system, and that he was and now remains truly sorry for his behavior.
The DNJ has two stories. One focuses on DesJarlais supporters and starts thusly:
Ask the men drinking coffee at the Liars’ Table in Harvey’s Pirate Drive-In here (in South Pittsburgh) and they’ll tell you Dr. Scott DesJarlais never should have gone to Congress — that he was a “good man” who should have stayed in the medical profession.
None of them really wanted to discuss DesJarlais’ past divorce proceedings and none were aware of the latest controversy surrounding DesJarlais — that he urged a woman to get an abortion — during this particular visit.
Fred Sharpe, a retired resident here and one of the chief story-tellers, said he told DesJarlais after he returned home from Washington after the first election in 2010, “I didn’t want to insult you by calling you a congressman. … I also told him when he went … I said you do know you went up there amongst a bunch of thieves and criminals. He looked me in the eye and said, ‘I’m afraid you’re right.'”
…”As long as he’ll be contrary Obama, I’m for him,” said John A. Smith, another retiree.
The other is datelined Winchester and focuses on Stewart. It starts like this:
Many folks in this friendly small town near where Congressional candidate Eric Stewart lives see this Democratic state senator as the best choice to break the gridlock in Washington, D.C.
“I think he’s doing a good job in the office that he holds, and I think he’s a good person,” said Christy Marshall while dropping by the Public Square in Winchester on Oct. 2. “I’ve met him. We agree on a lot of the same issues, the health care benefits, lowering the unemployment rate, bringing in more jobs, lowering the national debt.”
…Stewart says he has learned to work with other lawmakers at the state capital who come from all across Tennessee and represent small and large areas, and will do the same if sent to D.C.
“His office has been responsive whenever we’ve gotten involved with him,” said state Rep. David Alexander, a Winchester resident who’s proud to be the first Republican elected from District 39 since the Civil War when he won his seat in 2010. “Eric and I have worked well together in Nashville for our districts. We want the same things. Perhaps we differ in how go go about getting them.”
Despite that, Alexander is naturally backing DeJarslais.
“I support the good job DesJarlais has done, and he happens to be a fellow Republican,” said Alexander, who along with his wife, Cile, owns Reliable Rental business in Winchester. “Scott has done a very good job the last two years. I particularly like his votes on the budget and other financial matters. I think he has a realistic view of the financial condition of our country going forward.”