I'm trying to feel sorry this morning for Steven Thayn.
And I just can't do it.
I certainly feel sorry for Thayn's daughter-in-law, and wish the best for her and the baby she is carrying. I even feel a little sorry for Damon Mathias Thayn — to a very limited extent. Damon Thayn's domestic battery arrest and subsequent guilty plea on a disturbing the peace charge wouldn't have even made the newspaper, were it not for his state representative father.
But Steven Thayn? I can't feel sorry for him.
Thayn, an Emmett Republican, has tried to present himself as some sort of a leader of family values issues. He has headed up a House of Representatives style="text-decoration:underline;"> Family Task Force, to study "the magnitude of the decline of the family since 1950." Back when this task force was merely a bad joke, I thought it was sorely in need of a theme song: "Tonight we're gonna party like it's 1949."
Oh, but Thayn was serious all right. The first-term lawmaker and father of eight acted as if he had all sort of answers about how 1.4 million Idahoans should run their households. He set himself up as an authority.
He set up himself — and his family — for unpleasant scrutiny.
As we now know, Damon Thayn was arrested in connection with an April 3 domestic dispute. April 3 was nearly five months before Thayn's task force started running around the state preaching their narrow message to Idaho families. I can only hope Idaho families were sufficiently busy just keeping things together, so they didn't waste too much time listening to what Thayn and his ilk had to say.
Thayn talked plenty, but never about his son's troubles with the law.
I can hear the shoot-the-messenger cavalry on the other side of the hill. I know they're going to blame the left-wing blogger style="text-decoration:underline;">The MountainGoat Report for breaking this story, and kick us around for giving the story legs style="text-decoration:underline;">by publishing a followup today.
Nice try. I'm not taking the guilt trip.
I admit I haven't had any use for Thayn or his pious, more-knowledgeable-than-thou attitude about Idaho families. I'll stand by style="text-decoration:underline;"> every word. But nobody asked Thayn to present himself as the Man of the House of Representatives. He knew — or should have had the common sense to know — that news about his son and daughter-in-law might eventually break. Yet he kept plowing forward, and he made the skeletons in his family into a relevant story. What sort of family value is that?
A few days ago, the Statesman held an employee brownbag to discuss Idaho's other political morality play, the Larry Craig saga. One co-worker asked about the story's long-lasting implications. Never lacking for an opinion, I suggested that Craig's fall from grace might provide a cautionary tale for Congress: Focus on public policy issues, and quit wasting time on private issues that aren't government's business — and open the door to a lot of unsavory scrutiny.
Now, Steven Thayn has become the Larry Craig of the Idaho House of Representatives. I'm sorry, but I can't feel sorry.