The public was shocked, shocked to learn that a group of Congressmen and their spouses and aides, on a junket, went swimming in Israel’s Sea of Galilee after dinner at a fancy restaurant on a hot summer day. More shocking still, alcohol was imbibed. What’s more, some of them had their clothes on when they took the plunge. Finally – are you sitting down? – one of them went skinny-dipping. Yes, Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) took his clothes off.
This appalling international incident took place a year ago. Thanks to the courageous reporting of Politico, it now sees the light of day. The ever-vigilant press, knowing that where there’s water there’s a gate, defended the public’s right to know.
But, there’s more.
It turns out that the FBI looked into the matter to see “if any inappropriate behavior occurred.” No charges were filed.
Politico describes the Sea of Galilee as “a Christian holy site, ... where Jesus is said in the Bible to have walked on water.” All true. But what Politico doesn’t mention is that the Sea of Galilee is also a resort, known for its beaches. People go swimming there all the time without any disrespect for Christianity and its holy sites.
America is a theocracy? The ever-vigilant media, all pious churchgoers, keep an eye out for potential insults against religion? Congressional representatives are human? Who knew?
It also turns out that the party leadership was pretty mad with the swimmers for splashing up a potential scandal. Who can blame them? “Drink and dip leads to loose lips” – doesn’t the good old, patriotic, World War Two line go something like that?
Speaking of party, all of the swimmers were Republican. Did I forget to mention that? The partisan angle is what makes this story delicious in the first place. But it doesn’t make it important.
Barry Strauss is Professor of History at Cornell University. He is the author of “Masters of Command: Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, and the Genius of Leadership" (Simon and Schuster 2012). For more visit: http://barrystrauss.com/