Ensign still can’t explain himself

ENSIGN STILL CAN’T EXPLAIN HIMSELF…. Sen. John Ensign’s (R-Nev.) sex scandal didn’t hold the media’s attention for very long. He refused to talk about the matter, and it wasn’t long before journalists stopped asking questions.

That’s a shame, because the scandal-plagued senator still has quite a bit of explaining to do. To briefly recap, Ensign’s humiliation initially broke in June, when we learned the conservative, “family values” senator carried on a lengthy extra-marital affair with one of his aides, who happened to be married to another one of his aides. Ensign’s parents tried to pay off the mistress’ family.

The scandal grew far worse in October, when we learned that the Republican senator pushed his political and corporate allies to give lobbying contracts to his mistress’ husband, Douglas Hampton. Despite laws prohibiting aides from lobbying for a year after leaving the Hill, Ensign and the aggrieved husband seemed to ignore the rule, and the senator used his office to cater to the needs of those who hired Hampton.

Ensign, again, said he didn’t want to talk about it, and the media quickly lost interest. It’s why Ensign’s appearance on CNN yesterday was so fascinating. Ensign was there to talk about counter-terrorism — a subject the dim-witted senator knows very little about — but CNN’s Rick Sanchez had the audacity to ask about the sex scandal the senator would prefer to ignore.

Ensign kept ignoring the questions, prompting Sanchez to lower the boom: “Did you help [Hampton] get a job because you felt bad for him or because you had been sleeping with his wife and you wanted to get him out of the way?” The senator, again, took a pass.

Republican politicians caught up in humiliating scandals tend to rely on short-attention spans to survive — if they can just batten down the hatches and ride out the storm, reporters will move on and the public’s interests will shift. If more media figures did the kind of follow-up we saw from Sanchez — you know, asking scandal-plagued politicians questions they don’t want to hear — GOP pols might be inclined to pursue a more forthcoming strategy.