Mark Sanford's stupidity

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on June 25, 2009

After yesterday's cringe-inducing press conference where South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, a Republican, confessed to having flown to Argentina to have an affair with a woman, it's clear that his political career is over. Sanford won't be running for president in 2012 as some had suggested. He won't be running for re-election either. He may not even keep his job until the next election.

A few related thoughts:

  • Despite what everyone thinks about politicians holding executive office (mayors, governors, etc.), they really aren't necessary to keeping their city/state functioning. Sanford was gone, incommunicado, for several days ... and nothing happened.
  • Sanford's drawing a lot of scorn from the left, right and center of American politics. It's deserved, but unbecoming of all the people dishing it out. A more humble attitude would be more appropriate -- "there, but for the grace of God, go I."
  • Finally, I found George Stephanopoulos' claim that Democrats are brought down by these types of sex scandals whereas Republicans tend to survive them to be at odds with reality. If it's just about sex, then Democrats are slightly more likely to survive and have a political future than Republicans. The problem is, all of Stephanopoulos' examples were more than just sex scandals.
    • Eliot Spitzer, New York governor, was brought down not just by sex, but because he broke multiple laws. He used campaign funds illegally in paying for the rooms for his tryst and he paid a woman for sex -- illegal in the U.S. aside from a few rural Nevada counties.
    • Jim McGreevey, New Jersey governor, was brought down not because of his homosexual affair, but because he had installed his paramour in a government job that he was unqualified for. McGreevey's lover was not an American citizen and couldn't get a security clearance, yet he was installed as the state's top homeland security official.
    • Kwame Kilpatrick, Detroit mayor, was convicted of numerous crimes, some of which were related to an extra-marital affair, but he didn't lose the office as a result of the affair itself. Kirkpatrick was convicted of perjury, misconduct in office and obstruction of justice in addition to assault of a law enforcement officer.
  • Stephanopoulos pointed to Republicans David Vitter, Louisiana senator, and Larry Craig, former Idaho senator, and John Ensign of Nevada as people who had survived scandals. He's right about Vitter, wrong about Craig and it's too early to tell about Ensign. While Craig did serve out his term (after reneging on a promise to resign) he did not run for office again -- I don't think anyone doubts that, absent the scandal, he would've run for re-election and won. Ensign's scandal may or may not bring him down (right now I'd lean towards "may not" simply because it's not on the news 24/7), but he has no hope of higher office now.
  • Stephanopoulos failed to mention GOP Rep. Vito Fossella who didn't run for re-election after a DWI arrest led to the revelation that he had fathered a child out of wedlock with another woman. He also didn't mention the famous Mark Foley sex-texts-to-pages scandal in 2006 that contributed to the GOP's loss of Congress that year.
  • Stephanopoulos' former boss, President Bill Clinton, survived a sex scandal -- and the related perjury charges -- and emerged from it stronger. Rep. Barney Frank is still serving in Congress even after it was revealed that his boyfriend was running a male prostitution ring out of Frank's apartment.

Each and every one of these scandals is unique. You can't easily compare one to another, and you certainly can't do what Stephanopoulos did -- generalize that Republicans survive these where Democrats don't.


Perfectly said: “It’s not that the statue had become unworthy of the museum. It’s that the museum had become unworthy of the statue. “

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June 2009



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