The atmosphere inside the beautiful old house on C Street was even friskier than we imagined. First we learned that occupant Sen. John Ensign, famously failed to adhere to Christ's standards in his marriage. Then we found out about the peccadilloes of Gov. Mark Sanford of SC, who spent time at the C Street House when he was in Congress. CBS's Steve Chaggaris points me to news today that a third famous former resident of the church-convent-dorm has been accused of having an extramarital affair. Ex-Rep. Chip Pickering (R-MS), another one of those folks you could have called a rising Republican star. (Pickering's wife alleges the affair was with a woman named Elizabeth Creekmore Byrd.) It's easy to make fun of the C Street house, but I think ought to look for enduring lessons. Powerful men with egos living together on the Hill do not necessarily progress to a higher level of self-discipline, even with the apparatus of evangelical Christianity to hold them accountable. Perhaps these men are drawn toward this community because they want a check on their libidinous natures, magnified as they are by the power quotient on Capitol Hill, with all those pretty young interns and lobbyists subordinate to you in social rank. Of course, one might ask what these men would have done had they not been living with other, like-minded men.
Marc Ambinder is a senior fellow at the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy.