Like many Americans, I was dismayed to learn that Christopher Lee was sending racy photos of himself to young women via the Internet. I’m second to none in my admiration for Lee’s long and storied career – he brought an air of elegant menace to the Hammer horror films of the Sixties, fought valiantly to retain his dignity in the “Star Wars” prequels, and was robbed when his scenes were cut from Return of the King. I was hoping they’d make it up to him by working a little Saruman cameo into the new Hobbit movies. Sending shirtless pictures of himself to a 34-year-old woman he found while trawling a website seemed so far beneath him. That’s more like the kind of thing you’d expect from Ernest Borgnine, bless his randy little heart.
What a relief it was to learn this was an entirely different Christopher Lee! Did you know there’s a Republican congressman from New York by that name? Well, not any more. He resigned today, only hours after the Gawker website posted the shirtless photos and flirty emails he was sending to a young woman he met on Craigslist. He told her he was a “very fit fun classy guy,” whose most recent date had been “last Monday,” with a girl who “was not as advertised.” Lee identified himself as a 39-year-old divorced lobbyist, which will not please his constituents, his wife, or anyone who attended his 46th birthday party.
The usual trajectory of a Washington scandal played out in fast forward. Lee tried to stall by asking Gawker to send him copies of every email his Craigslist hook-up forwarded to them, then floated the idea his email account had been hacked, claiming the only time he and his wife used Craigslist was to “sell old furniture.” By sunset, he was telling House Speaker John Boehner what an honor it had been to serve the people of Western New York, and regretting the harm his actions had caused to family, staff, and constituents.
Fox News quotes Republican representative Marlin Stutzman of Indiana expressing approval for Lee’s resignation, asking “If someone is willing to lead a secret life away from their spouse, how can the general public trust you?” That’s a fair question. Another one is how the public could trust anyone this dumb. He used his real name, and sent his flirty emails from the same Gmail account that was tied to his Facebook page. The woman he was communicating with turns out to be a “government employee from Maryland,” but I would imagine women from most walks of life eventually get around to Googling the names of guys who hit on them through websites. Once she scrolled past the pictures of Count Dooku, she would swiftly discover who she was really talking to. This was a perfect storm of moral and intellectual bankruptcy.
Of course, since Lee was an opponent of repealing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” rules against homosexual behavior in the military, and signed on to the “No Taxpayer Funding For Abortions Act,” the bones of his career will now be fashioned into clubs and used to beat social conservatives. There will most likely be a special election to replace him, at the discretion of Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo. In the meantime, I’m going to watch some old Hammer horror films, mixed with Clinton-era Democrat speeches about how “character doesn’t matter,” to cheer myself up.