Ensign stands alone

ENSIGN STANDS ALONE…. With the likelihood of a criminal indictment against Republican Sen. John Ensign of Nevada apparently growing, it’s worth paying attention to how the larger GOP apparatus — both in D.C. and in Nevada — prepares itself. Do Republicans rally in support of their long-time ally, or do they stop returning his phone calls?

Clearly, the latter is happening, and it’s not just because of the nature of Ensign’s sex/ethics/corruption scandal. It’s also because no one actually likes the guy.

The Las Vegas Sun‘s J. Patrick Coolican has a devastating piece this week, “deconstructing” John Ensign. Rachel Maddow described it as “one of the most brutal hometown paper takedowns I’ve ever seen of a sitting senator,” and I couldn’t agree more.

In interviews with the Las Vegas Sun, more than a dozen friends, associates and Republican allies, some of whom have known Ensign for years, describe him as a politician who has grown narcissistic and reckless — a detached, self-righteous figure with almost no regard for those who helped send him to Washington or keep him there. […]

The sources, most of whom spoke to the Sun on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigations, said what rankles so many in Republican circles is that Ensign seems oblivious to the collateral damage caused by his actions, and unwilling to make the matter disappear by resigning.

Steve Wark, a longtime Nevada Republican operative, said Ensign’s failure to make and maintain relationships has come back to haunt him. “What’s made this more difficult for John Ensign is that when politicians get in trouble, other elected officials come to their aid out of devotion or obligation,” he said.

It is telling that for Ensign, that hasn’t been the case.

The portrait isn’t pretty. Republicans marveled at Ensign’s selfishness, arrogance, and “narcissism.” He’s mistreated his staff, ignored the needs of his state party, preferred to remain uninterested and ignorant about public policy at every level, and offered self-righteous lectures on morality to his associates.

And Ensign, of course, carried on an illicit affair with his best friend’s wife.

We’ve seen many instances in recent years in which Republicans will rally behind a scandal-plagued ally, regardless of circumstances, out of a combination of loyalty, partisanship, and camaraderie. But Ensign has no real support right now — from anyone — because he’s never bothered to care about anyone but himself and “a small, insular group of advisers,” described by one Nevada Republican as the “cult of Ensign.”

The question isn’t whether Ensign should resign. The question is whether anyone would miss him if he stepped down in disgrace.