Rising Republican star and well-known border hawk Sheriff Paul Babeu, who’s now running for Congress in Arizona, was hit Friday night with bombshell accusations from a Mexican immigrant who said he dated the sheriff for years and was threatened with deportation if he ever told anyone about their romance. The Phoenix New Times newspaper broke the story on its website in a piece written by veteran journalist Monica Alonzo. The accusations came complete with text messages said to be between the two men as well as compromising photos purportedly of Babeu that are reminiscent of recent sex scandals that ended the careers of Congressmen Anthony Weiner and Chris Lee.
Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive….
Personally, I could care less about Paul Babeu’s sexual orientation. He could be buggering goats in his off hours and, as long as the goats are OK with the proceedings…well, it’s not what I might consider, but it’s a free country, no? The problem comes in when you try to portray yourself as something you’re not, something that’s inimical to who you are at your core. Paul Babeu is now finding out what can happen when you aggressively (and rather ineptly) live a lie.
There are few things in life I understand less than the phrase “Gay Republican”. I can understand that a gay person might hold views that trend more Conservative than the GLBT community as a whole. What I struggle to wrap my head around is how someone can run for office on behalf of a party that despises their lifestyle and wants only to reduce them to second-class status. Babeu, seeming to at least minimally understand this reality, tried to keep a lid on it publicly, while clearly not skillfully ensuring his private life remained exactly that.
I’d wager that the truth of this matter may well be a fair bit different than what’s currently being spun. If you believe the “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” argument, then you’d have to think that Babeu is at the very least a flaming hypocrite. Babeu spent years building an image of himself as a tough, uncompromising, law and order, tough on illegal immigration Republican. He did so while evidently leading a private life that ran directly counter to his public image. When you build your public persona on the soft sand of hypocrisy and dishonesty, you can’t be surprised when the foundation finally (and inevitably) crumbles.
It’s still early, and I suspect that there’s more to this story than is currently known. What I’ll be interested in will be how (or if) Babeu can balance his publicly and staunchly Conservative public persona with his (clearly not so very closeted) gay lifestyle. Will he survive this scandal? Will the GOP, notoriously hostile as it is to all things Gay, embrace Babeu as one of their own? Most of all, where’s the outrage from Conservatives who missed no opportunity to demand that Anthony Weiner do the right thing and resign because of his unfortunate sexting habit?