Jason Chaffetz: Portrait of a Latter-Day Coward

Christianity and politics have a long and rocky relationship in our Democracy. The Founders were more than a bit twitchy about overt displays of religion and when they assured the Separation of Church and State in the Constitution, they meant it with every fiber of their being.

Let us not forget, however, that Martin Luther King Jr.’s first name was, technically, “Reverend.” Presidents Carter, Clinton and Obama all possess strong religious faith, as do the vast majority of blacks and Hispanics, two of the strongest pillars in the modern Progressive coalition. But religion has hardly been a consistent force for good. While northern churches wholeheartedly supported the Civil Rights movement, many noisy opponents, standing on a pulpit in Dixie with a Bible in their hands, were little more than racists in clerical clothing

Today, we have the staggering irony of Donald Trump. Elected by the “family values” party, we have a guy who wants to grab women by the pussy, who tweets idiotic taunts like a juvenile delinquent and who views government as his own private tinker toy set, designed to enhance his personal wealth, morality be damned.

So, what’s a Family Values lawmaker to do?

On the GOP side, most in Congress are simply flushing their family values down a partisan commode. One of the more interesting wrinkles in last year’s campaign was a strong, heartfelt moral opposition to Donald Trump by Utah Mormons. Many chose to cast a ballot for moonshot Mormon candidate Evan McMullin, giving Trump the lowest GOP vote share in Utah’s history, a paltry 45%.

Mormon political leaders have not displayed the courage of the average Mormon voter. Mitt Romney was quick to cozy up to Trump in his failed, and embarrassing, bid for Secretary of State, and the greatest moral coward of the Mormon delegation is Representative Jason Chaffetz.

The Washington Post once chided Chaffetz for his “modern record on flip-floppery.” Like far too many in the GOP, Chaffetz was happy to overlook Trump’s overt racism toward Hispanics and his appalling business ethics. Chaffetz endorsed Trump. When the infamous Billy Bush tape emerged, he appeared to muster moral courage, in this quote on Fox News:

“I can no longer in good conscience endorse this person for President. It is some of the most abhorrent and offensive comments that you can possibly imagine,” Chaffetz told Salt Lake City’s Fox 13. “My wife and I, we have a 15-year-old daughter, and if I can’t look her in the eye and tell her these things, I can’t endorse this person.”

A few weeks later, under partisan pressure, Chaffetz issued this now famous cowardly twit of a Tweet on October 26:


It’s difficult to ascribe motives to such behavior, but there is a great deal of evidence that Representative Chaffetz wants to be Speaker of the House one day. Apparently he thinks the low road of the craven partisan is a safer bet than the rockier road of moral integrity. While he may one day rue his decision, as Trump descends into a cesspool of tawdry Tweets and Russian shenanigans, for now he is content in his cowardice.

Trouble is, this yellow-bellied partisan hack is currently in possession of the Chairmanship of the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform. In a position requiring steely resolve, we are stuck with a simpering, partisan suck up.

Representative Chaffetz’ Committee has been steadfastly refusing to investigate real and alarming Russian hacking and nefarious interference in last fall’s election. Indeed, instead of moving forward with a timely investigation of Trump’s business conflicts of interest, Chaffetz has chosen to subpoena Walter Shaub, the head of the independent, non-congressional Office of Government Ethics and an attorney who has served in both Democratic and Republican administrations, for calling Trump out.

Under Chaffetz’s gavel, the House Committee on Ethics has all the moral trappings of Arthur Miller’s courtroom in The Crucible.

That, gentle reader, is where you come in. All of us, ALL OF US, must lean on the House Committee on Ethics to do their job. A fair number of Chaffetz’s GOP colleagues are growing privately fearful of the coming tsunami of stories and scandals that will infest the Trump Presidency. But to get Chaffetz to move to investigate, we have to hammer him, and his Committee, and hammer them hard. In my next post, I’ll provide talking points and a sample letter. We can hold Chaffetz to the moral values he alleges to possess, if we are savvy and relentless.

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