US congressman Joe Barton of Texas is a member of the Republican Freedom Caucus which means that he has notoriously reactionary views on pretty much everything, all wrapped up in smug religious piety. He is a strong advocate for the oil and coal industries and a vehement climate change denier, using the Bible to argue against the science and even suggesting that wind energy is not a renewable resource.
But now the 68-year old congressperson is in the news for something other than being willfully obtuse about science. This time it is not for sexual abuse but for ‘sexting’, sending lewd messages and naked photos of himself to a woman with whom he was having an affair.
At the time he sent the photos, he was separated from his second wife but not yet divorced. Since the relationship seems to have been a consensual one between adults (at least as far as we know so far) there is nothing wrong with this. But as with the case of Ohio state representative Wes Goodman, one wonders why someone in his position would take such risks, giving that his public persona is that of a moralizing, rightwing Christian. He had threatened the woman that if she released the photos, he would report her to the Capitol police, suggesting that he was aware of the danger of exposure. So why did he do it at all?
Young people do stupid things but by the time one reaches adulthood, one learns to resist reckless impulses. But not in Barton’s case, it appears.