It’s not the kind of debate you might witness on television where candidates stand behind podiums and field questions from a moderator. Truthfully, that’s not a debate either. That’s simply a forum, but since your average voter doesn’t know any better, a forum can pass for a debate in modern American politics.
Be that as it may, the debate that’s under way in the 5th District is being hashed out among friends, neighbors, spouses, siblings, cousins and anyone else who questions whether Congressman Vance McAllister should be forgiven and rewarded or simply forgiven and never thought about again. As all of us know by now, McAllister is at the heart of the debate because he got caught in an extramarital dalliance with the wife of one of his life-long friends. Perhaps it wouldn’t be such a big deal if McAllister hadn’t campaigned for office last fall as a devout Christian and devoted father and husband. But he did.
It was in April of this year, or less than six months after he took office, that McAllister’s fling with Melissa Peacock came to light thanks to this newspaper and its sister publications.
Feeling the heat, McAllister announced he wouldn’t seek re-election in November. He changed his tune in less than three months and declared that he would seek a full term in the House in this fall’s election cycle. Remember, McAllister was elected late last year to succeed former Congressman Rodney Alexander, who resigned from office in the midst of his sixth term to take a job with the state.
The issue of forgiveness and redemption and however else you care to describe it surfaced for the world to see and contemplate this week when McAllister aired his first television commercial for his re-election campaign. Sitting beside McAllister in the commercial was his wife, Kelly. Neither one of them spoke directly about McAllister’s behavior. Neither one of them talked about forgiveness. Instead, the focus of the commercial was about McAllister’s character. Kelly McAllister also talked about feeling “blessed” for being married to a “husband who owns up to his mistakes, never gives up, always fighting for the good people of Louisiana.”
Though Vance and Kelly McAllister didn’t actually say it, the message was clear. That is, all has been forgiven in the McAllister household and the voters of the 5th District should do the same. And they should do it by re-electing McAllister to the House.
Since forgiveness and redemption, and character too, are the hot topics that are being bantered about throughout the 5th District as well as conveyed in the TV commercial that McAllister aired beginning this week, we should pause and reflect upon some remarks that Melissa Peacock’s husband, Heath, made to CNN shortly after McAllister’s and Peacock’s extramarital relationship was exposed.
“He (McAllister) has wrecked my life,” said Heath Peacock.
And since Heath Peacock and McAllister apparently have known one another well for years, we have to assume Heath Peacock was speaking openly and honestly when he told CNN, “I know his beliefs. When he ran one of his commercials, he said, ‘I need your prayers,’ and I asked him, ‘When did you get religious?’ He said, ‘When I needed votes.’”
“He broke out the religious card and he’s about the most non-religious person I know,” Peacock said of McAllister.
As Christians, we are taught to forgive. And I suspect most Christians in the 5th District and beyond forgive McAllister for seemingly stomping on the Seventh Commandment. I know I do.
But that doesn’t mean we should reward him.
Sam Hanna Jr. is publisher of The Ouachita Citizen, and he serves in an editorial/management capacity with The Concordia Sentinel and The Franklin Sun, three newspapers owned and operated by the Hanna family. Hanna can be reached by calling (318) 805-8158 or by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.