When Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens first emerged on the political scene, Missourians would have done well to remember the adage attributed to Winston Churchill, “If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.” Greitens decided he was a conservative Republican at 41. For Greitens, the journey took too long. He either had not enough brains or too much ambition or, as history proved, both.
Greitens declared himself a Republican in July 2015, just in time to run for governor of Missouri. He had an extraordinary resume. Unlike Democratic history, Republican history is chock-a-block with compelling conversion stories. Some of America’s most eloquent conservatives–like, say, Whittaker Chambers or David Horowitz–climbed out of the deepest Marxist swamps. Others like Ronald Reagan moved gradually right as the Democratic Party moved left underneath them. Adults don’t move in the opposite direction. There was reason to welcome a warrior like Greitens and not to distrust his shift.
That said, many Missouri Republicans were skeptical of Greitens as a gubernatorial candidate. It was too much, too soon, too convenient. His motive for switching rang false to those who had read Chambers’s Witness or Horowitz’s Radical Son. Said the future governor in the way of explanation, “I became a conservative because I believe that caring for people means more than just spending taxpayer money; it means delivering results. It means respecting and challenging our citizens, telling them what they need to hear, not simply what they want to hear.”
As it turns out, the skeptics have had their skepticism rewarded. The details of the scandal are reasonably well known. As codified in the criminal case against him, they read: “on or about March 21, 2015, in the City of St. Louis, State of Missouri, the defendant knowingly photographed K.S. in a state of full or partial nudity without the knowledge or consent of K.S. and in a place where a person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy, and the defendant subsequently transmitted the image contained in the photograph in a manner that allowed access to the image via a computer.”
Yes, the phrase “reasonable expectation of privacy” seems almost comical when applied to a woman who allowed herself to be bound and blindfold nude. And true, a St. Louis prosecutor and grand jury are capable of indicting a Republican governor on a felony charge of tearing the label off a mattress. That said, as politically-driven as the indictment likely was, the grand jury did Republicans in Missouri a favor.
Legal or illegal, what Greitens did was beyond defense, morally or rationally. That is all that should matter. He has got to go. Even Democrats would have a hard time defending Greitens if he was still one of theirs.