Diehl’s resignation the first step on road to repentance

May 17, 2015

DiehlPower:  the ability or right to control people or things; a person or organization that has a lot of control and influence over other people or organizations (Merriam-Webster.com)

Human:  of, relating to, or characteristic of humans; susceptible to or representative of the sympathies and frailties of human nature (Merriam-Webster.com)

In all of human history is there any more volatile a mix than humans and power?

When in the right hands it can be an amazing force for good.  Think the Founding Fathers, Lincoln, and JFK.

In the wrong ones, it can range anywhere from a complete and utter disaster (Richard Nixon) to a veritable orgy of ego (Bill Clinton) to an absolute insatiable desire to control it all (Barack Obama).

And when that power is threatened, the desire to retain it becomes a power unto itself.

Nixon pushed the nation to the brink of a Constitutional crisis before finally being forced to accept his fate.

Clinton was so desperate to hang onto power he dragged the country through a veritable swamp of disgust as he clawed and scratched to hide the fact that a man with the power to destroy the world was helpless to control himself in the presence of women that were not his wife.

His now infamous: “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is” set a low that hopefully no President after will ever break.

Closer to home, Missourians have to look no further into the past than Todd Akin and his 2012 campaign for U.S. Senate and his “legitimate rape” remark.  So strong was Akin’s desire for power that he refused to step aside, handing an easy victory to Democrat Claire McCaskill.  And talk about dodging responsibility for one’s own actions.  In his 2014 book, Akin still blames political bosses and the media for his downfall instead of the real culprit:  an arrogance of self that refused to acknowledge the facts right in front of him.

And now we have John Diehl (R) 89th district, state of Missouri.

As the story was breaking last Wednesday I literally could not believe what was coming across my news feeds. Was I really seeing a story about a middle aged man engaging in sexually charged banter with a college intern 30 years his younger and still 2 years away from even being able to legally buy an alcoholic beverage?

Sadly I was, and by that evening, my anger turned to full boil over as Diehl seemed determined to dodge rather than accept responsibility for his actions.

He admitted “poor judgment”, said he had apologized to his colleagues, and but then defiantly declared that he would not be stepping down as House Speaker or resigning his seat.

And then came Thursday.  A day that for whatever reasons, John Diehl did what Clinton and Akin never could:  put himself second to the people he was elected to serve and resigned his position as state representative for the 89th district.

There is no doubt Diehl dishonored himself and the office, but it is refreshing to see a politician actually do what most only talk about:  take real responsibility for his actions.

I am, and will remain for some time, angry over Diehl’s transgressions, but as a fellow human I understand the frailty in each of us, and as a Christian I realize the final judgment be not mine.

What John Diehl did was most definitely wrong, but here’s to hoping his acceptance of the consequences for his actions becomes the norm rather than the exception for future politicians needing to take their own first step on the road to repentance.

PUBLISHER’s NOTE:  A version of this column first appeared in the May 17, 2015 print edition of the Joplin Globe.

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