Editorials

Best not to play on Craigslist

(Rejected first draft of a memo from House Speaker John Boehner to fellow Republicans following the embarrassing resignation of Rep. Christopher Lee of New York after he sent an inappropriate photo to a woman he met on Craigslist.)

Dear Colleagues,

In light of recent unsavory events, I would like to review conduct guidelines for social conservatives, laboring as we do in the unforgiving glare of public scrutiny.

Needless to say, it is unseemly for any Republican member of Congress, particularly one who's married, to attempt to "hook up" with strangers on the Internet. That's what dark hotel bars are for, and I'm told there are many such establishments in the Capitol Hill area.

Remember, we are the party of family values, the party that spent a humongous pile of taxpayer money impeaching Bill Clinton because of his fling with a White House intern. We must not allow ourselves to wander down that same sleazy path - or, at the very least, we must not allow ourselves to get caught.

Rep. Lee did the honorable thing by resigning, yet the damage to our cause has been done. So what lessons can we take from this incident?

First, and most important: Never get anything on Craigslist except patio furniture, golf clubs, Super Bowl tickets, riding mowers or snow globes.

If you belong to a social network such as Facebook, don't post any information or comments that might be misconstrued by your constituents, or twisted into something sinister by your political enemies.

In the wake of this recent controversy, several House members have inquired about our policy regarding photographs. I would ask you all to go back and re-read the Brett Favre memorandum that I sent out last fall. Obviously Rep. Lee misplaced his copy.

Let me reiterate that it's perfectly acceptable to send out pictures of yourself to voters and campaign donors.

However, you must always be careful to pose in a dignified manner - sitting at your desk, for example, or standing on the Capitol steps. Your facial expression should be one of pensive sobriety, as if you're contemplating how to repeal Obamacare and save this great nation from ruin.

For female members, a conservative dress or suit is fine for photographs; taupe is always safe. For men, the preferred attire is a navy blue coat jacket, a club necktie, and of course your American flag lapel pin.

Obviously, all body piercings and tattoos should remain out of sight.

One final point, and I can't stress this strongly enough: Republican House members should never, ever use their cell phones to photograph themselves shirtless, no matter how "hot" they think they look.

In the event that such a revealing picture does exist, you are absolutely forbidden from e-mailing it to somebody you just met online. No exceptions!

That might sound harsh, particularly to those of you who've been putting in a lot of time at the gym. I understand that you're proud of your new buffed "self." So, evidently, was Rep. Lee.

But the sad fact is, in this time of brutal partisanship, nobody can be trusted to keep a secret.

For my part, I no longer go online to order my tanning goggles or even bootleg cartons of Marlboros, even though the savings were substantial and shipping was usually free.

In Rep. Lee's case, he represented himself to the woman on Craigslist as an unmarried person - "a very fit fun classy guy." He also lied about his age and claimed to be, of all things, a lobbyist (no wonder she lost interest!).

Unfortunately, the one fact that Rep. Lee failed to conceal was his name, which is why our party now finds itself in this squeamish posture.

But to all my fellow Republicans, I say this: Have faith. After all, we survived Larry Craig, Mark Foley, John Ensign, Mark Sanford, Mark Souder, David Vitter and the rest. We'll survive Christopher Lee, too.

Be smart, be strong and never, ever use your real name when trolling the Internet for hot monkey love. In time, we will retake the moral high ground. We will rise up again. Wait, make that "prevail."

Contact Hiaasenat chiaasen@miamiherald.com.

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