By Diane Roberts
Republicans cast themselves as the party of piety, traditional gender roles, and family values.
This is at odds with reality.
Donald Trump raped New York writer E. Jean Carroll in a department store dressing room. Dozens of other women have accused him of sexual harassment.
A former staffer on Herschel Walker’s failed U.S. Senate campaign is suing Matt Schlapp, head of the influential right wing group CPAC, for sexual battery. Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert went to jail for abusing teenaged boys.
To name but a few.
Certainly, Democrats are not without sin: Anthony Weiner and Rep. John Conyers, for example, though Dems are more likely to resign when confronted with their appalling behavior.
Which brings us to Florida GOP chairman Christian Ziegler, who — as the entire planet now knows — has been accused of rape.
He claims the sex was consensual. Sarasota police are inclined to disagree.
He admits to having an affair with the woman he allegedly attacked.
His wife Bridget, a co-founder of Moms for Liberty and member of the Sarasota School Board who has vowed to bring “religious values” to education, also admits to having an affair with her. The three of them had sex. Together.
Sen. Rick Scott, the state’s legislative leadership, the Cabinet, and other former friends and enablers say Ziegler should step down.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, who used to praise Bridget Ziegler to the skies, declaring he wished he could put a Bridget Ziegler on every school board “in every county in Florida,” now wants the Zieglers deep-sixed.
Ronbo’s presidential campaign is disintegrating before the eyes of the nation, so he’s trying to change the subject, vowing to dedicate $1 million to — somehow — fighting the cosmic injustice of Florida State not being included in the College Football Playoffs.
Of course, Ziegler refuses to resign.
In an email to fellow Rs which manages to be both self-aggrandizing and self-pitying, he says “anyone” can file a rape accusation and suggests there’s some dark “motive” at work: “We have a country to save and I am not going to let false allegations of a crime put that mission on the bench as I wait for this process to wrap up.”
According to the sworn police affidavit, Ziegler took a little break from saving the country and refused to take no for an answer.
The woman who says he attacked her had agreed to an “encounter” with both him and his wife but, when Bridget backed out, she canceled, admitting it was Bridget she was really “into.”
Ziegler showed up at her place uninvited, she says, bent her over a piece of furniture, and raped her.
He also recorded the whole thing.
What a model of a Christian gentleman.
Ziegler continues to insist he’s being targeted; he’s the real victim; and he’ll be exonerated.
The Florida Center for Government Accountability, the nonprofit that broke the story (full disclosure: I sit on FLCGA’s board but wasn’t involved in the center’s stories), now reports the police have recovered Ziegler’s auto-porn tape.
Without going into the (truly ghastly) details of the encounter, the tape suggests the case will be anything but open and shut.
So, let’s assume for a moment that Christian Ziegler does not get charged with rape.
Let’s look at the Zieglers in terms their MAGA conservative friends might understand.
Christian’s an unapologetic adulterer, an unrepentant offender against the Commandments (Numbers 7 and 10, specifically).
I guess he could argue the Old Testament does suggest it’s all right for certain righteous fellows to have multiple sex partners: Jacob and his four wives, Solomon and his 300 concubines.
Nice work if you can get it. But I don’t recall Jesus ever putting his stamp of approval on ménages à trois.
Like her husband, Bridget’s also an adulterer, cheating on her undelicious spouse with another woman.
The same woman, as it happens.
Nobody should condemn Bridget for having sex with a same-gender partner; it’s just that she and her sister Harpies for Hate have made a career of vicious homophobia.
Hypocrisy is never pretty, no matter how blond and tan.
Bridget’s long been an anti-woke warrior princess, a big backer of Ron DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” law. When a fellow school board member — a gay man — was accused at a public meeting of being a “lawbreaker and LGBTQ groomer” by a woman with reported ties to Bridget’s Harpies for Hate, she sat there, let him be abused, and did nothing.
Although several school board members are calling for her resignation, as of this writing, Bridget is still on the Sarasota School Board as well as DeSantis’ absurd Disney oversight board.
I mean, how is she going to explain mommy and daddy’s exotic proclivities to her own kids? Unless the Zieglers move to Kabul or lock their offspring in the cellar for the foreseeable future, their young daughters are going to have some questions.
Hell, we all have questions, such as how dare these trashy people presume to set themselves up as moral arbiters?
It’s not just their sleaziness, it’s their staggering arrogance.
One of the Moms for Libertines chapters famously quoted Adolf Hitler in their newsletter. In a “media training session” run by Christian Ziegler at their national conference, his advice was “Never apologize. Ever.”
He added, “I think apologizing makes you weak.”
To be fair, he did sort of apologize to his alleged victim. The police helped her record their conversations in the days after she says he raped her.
He told her he was “sorry.” Then he tried to change the subject to his need for a haircut.
In a subsequent call, the woman tried to get him to acknowledge that he’d sexually assaulted her.
His response? “Those are big words, please don’t. No, I didn’t.” Then he said, lamely, “I never wanted you to feel that way.”
Christian Ziegler is also still chair of the Florida GOP, though probably not for long.
Through rivers of crocodile tears, vice chair and ambitious little toad Evan Power contacted his fellow Republicans, saying: “It is with a heavy heart I write this email to you.”
He’s calling a special meeting to discuss “the situation with the Chairman.”
In the Republican Party, the wages of hypocrisy is usually promotion. But in this case, exile to political Siberia is more likely.
No matter what happens, let’s remember there’s a victimized woman at the heart of this sordid business.
It would be funny if it weren’t so criminal.
Diane Roberts is an 8th-generation Floridian, born and bred in Tallahassee. Educated at Florida State University and Oxford University in England, she has been writing for newspapers since 1983, when she began producing columns on the legislature for the Florida Flambeau. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Times of London, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Oxford American, and Flamingo. She has been a member of the Editorial Board of the St. Petersburg Times–back when that was the Tampa Bay Times’s name–and a long-time columnist for the paper in both its iterations. She was a commentator on NPR for 22 years and continues to contribute radio essays and opinion pieces to the BBC. Roberts is also the author of four books.