In a farewell address to his colleagues — none of whom came to the chamber to watch him — Sen. John Ensign apologized to them for bringing shame on the Senate, and urged them to use his on failings as a warning.
“I was blind to how arrogant and self-centered that I had become,” the Nevada Republican said, warning of “how dangerous the feeling of power and adulation can be.”
He said his own “failings” — he had an affair with a staffer’s wife — have shown him the power of mercy. He recalled having learned that lesson the hard way after he earlier had harshly judged two Senate colleagues for their own personal travails — former Sens. Larry Craig and Ted Stevens — both of whom he publicly called on to resign. But he said he later went and asked their forgiveness. Mr. Ensign said Mr. Craig was one of the first to call him after news broke about his affair.
“Each of these men were gracious enough to forgive me, even though publicly I did not show them the same grace,” he said.
Giving farewell addresses is standard for senators, though the occasion of Mr. Ensign’s address was unusual. Still under fire for the affair, he announced recently that he would resign in the middle of his term.
Usually, senators’ farewell addresses draw their colleagues to the chamber floor. But for Mr. Ensign, the Senate was devoid of senators, save for Sen. Chris Coons, the Delaware Democrat who was required to be in the chamber as the presiding officer.