The Right Honorable Gentleman From Tennessee, a “Consistent Supporter of Pro-Life Values”

I don’t usually get into personal scandals involving politicians; they are virtually required by the nature of the game to be hypocrites and often the kind of egomaniacs who live in houses with no mirrors. And I really don’t care about their sex lives. But the unfolding revelations involving U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) have crossed the line between hypocrisy and a major personality disorder. Check this out, from the Chattanooga Times-Free Press:

A decade before calling himself “a consistent supporter of pro-life values,” Tennessee physician and Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais supported his ex-wife’s decision to get two abortions before their marriage, according to the congressman’s sworn testimony during his divorce trial.

Obtained by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the couple’s 2001 trial transcript also confirms DesJarlais had sexual relationships with at least two patients, three coworkers and a drug representative while he was chief of staff at Grandview Medical Center in Jasper, Tenn. During one affair with a female patient, DesJarlais prescribed her drugs, gave her an $875 watch and bought her a plane ticket to Las Vegas, records show.

And there’s more:

The 679-page transcript reveals new details about DesJarlais’ interactions with a 24-year-old-patient, who claimed she became pregnant with DesJarlais’ child during a short fling in 2000 and that the doctor later pressed her to have an abortion.

DesJarlais, who is now 48 years old, admitted in court to pressuring the woman over the phone to get an abortion, but said the whole conversation was a scheme orchestrated by him and his wife — with whom he had reconciled — to get the 24-year-old to admit she was not really pregnant.

Oh, okay. That clears it all up.

You might wonder how DesJarlais got re-elected last week with all this damning information about his not-too-distant past:

The divorce trial transcript surfaces eight days after the freshman Republican cruised to re-election past Democratic challenger Eric Stewart, persevering through October media reports of sleeping with patients and urging one to get an abortion.

The Tennessee Democratic Party had attempted to obtain the transcript before the Nov. 6 election, but the court delayed the process because the document was not typed up in its complete form.

Again: oh, okay. Typing is really hard. And DesJarlais now has two more years to show he’s just a regular God-fearing guy, unless it’s possible there’s more in his background, or he was auditioning for a role in The Borgias.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.