OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Today’s politician making headlines for doing something stupid is my very own congressman, Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.), representing the 3rd district.
Last August, he went skinny-dipping in the Sea of Galilee while on a private fact-finding tour sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation. The nine-day trip cost $20,087 for Yoder and his wife; perhaps the foundation should have kicked in an extra $40 for a pair of swim trunks.
Politico reported that the FBI jumped into the act and investigated the incident, which involved freshmen lawmakers and their spouses. Although others went into the water, only Yoder removed all of his clothes.
Not very respectful of the site where the Bible reports Jesus walking on water.
Although I’m disappointed in Yoder’s behavior, it’s minor compared to yesterday’s “misspeak” by Missouri’s Todd Akin, who’s running on the GOP ticket against incumbent U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill. (Akin expressed the belief that women who suffer “legitimate rape” are somehow able to defy the laws of biology and self-protect against pregnancy.)
Yoder, a 36-year-old freshman congressman, has apologized in a statement to the Kansas City Star, saying: “I feel incredibly remorseful that I have caused embarrassment to my constituents and I have caused folks who believe in me to be disappointed.”
He also refers to a “momentary lapse in judgment.” That irks the Rev. Philip R. Hamner, a minister in Overland Park.
“Mr. Yoder is not confessing to a lapse in judgment while as a teenager or college student,” Hamner told me. “I am disturbed by politicians and public figures who campaign on character and blast their opponents for a lack of character.”
Ah, character? Remember that buzzword? Haven’t heard much about it lately.
Yoder’s had a couple of other questionable incidents in his past: He was pulled over after midnight Feb. 8, 2009, for driving 80 mph in a 70 mph zone and then refused to take a breathalyzer test from a Kansas highway patrolman. That one ended up in a plea agreement.
Yoder’s staff created a Web site www.stephenemoore.com during his campaign to criticize his opponent, Democrat Stephen Moore. After Moore’s campaign filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Committee, three members of the Federal Elections Committee found nothing wrong, while two members expressed objections.
He also appeared in a TV commercial during that campaign with his wife and three children. One problem: The kids weren’t his. (He and his wife are childless.) But it was a cute ad.
Yoder most likely won’t face any serious consequences from his actions in the Sea of Galilee beyond a scolding that night from Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who was on the trip but didn’t go swimming.
Yoder faces only the Libertarian candidate in November’s election. This is the man representing me in Congress now. He’s the one I’m depending on to make the right decisions when it comes to such issues as jobs, the economy and affordable health care.
Perhaps we should remember the advice to help speakers overcome stage fright when looking out at the audience. Just think of our politicians naked. Maybe that’ll keep us laughing.