The Sanford Lesson

I’m hearing mixed reports today on the fate of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford. Some news outlets such as Politico and various radio stations in both Georgia and South Carolina are insisting that impeachment proceedings have either been formally dropped by the South Carolina legislature or will likely not go forward, while the Los Angeles Times and others are reporting that a resolution calling for Sanford’s impeachment is expected to be filed.

Either way, the damage to Mark Sanford is done. He is a lame duck executive in the Palmetto State. His marriage is likely doomed. His excuse of “hiking the Appalachian Trail” has become a well-known and oft-used euphemism in American political culture, and his surreal admission of marital infidelity will forever be etched in the minds of those who live and breathe politics on a national stage.

Sanford will not be one of those politicians who rebound from infidelity, despite the fact that unlike others like Bill Clinton and John Edwards, he eventually came forward and admitted the inconvenient truth. There will be no rebound. And it’s sad. He was a fantastic voice when it came to matters of fiscal responsibility. He understood the people when it came to matters of disillusionment with government. And, as we’ve learned, he was quite the poet.

There’s a lesson to be learned here, and not just the broad-stroke lesson of “be faithful to your wife, you imbecile.” It’s that Republicans and conservatives are indeed held to a higher standard, and that involvement in the American political process should be looked at as a commitment and a public service, not a cheap ticket to influence and power. When matters of morality are at the center of a candidate’s candidacy, he or she had better have lived those promises, or else they’d better just not bother even getting involved.

It’s no secret that I’ve resigned myself to a future in politics, just as soon as I pay off my astronomical student loans. I’ve made my mistakes in the past with booze, with women, and even with a little California glaucoma medicine during college, but along with my transformation from ill-informed liberal to common sense conservative-libertarian I’ve grown up a bit. While I have enough of an independent moral center to never rely on consideration of a future in politics to determine my everyday conduct, it is certainly a factor in other extrinsic concerns.

The fact is, even aside to adherence to the values intrinsic in my faith, I just don’t want to be an embarrassment. I don’t want to be that guy who drags his reluctant wife up to a podium in front of clicking shutters and whirring videocameras. I don’t want to be that guy who “had so much potential.”

Sanford should be absolutely ashamed of himself. And from what I’ve known about him, I have no doubt that he is. But regardless of whether the impeachment proceedings go ahead, his remarkable story should serve as a lesson to the rest of us willing to serve: keep your nose clean, keep your pants zipped, and for God’s sake, keep off of the gosh-darned Appalachian Trail.



  1. Anonymous says:

    Newt Gingrich is debating Howard Dean tomorrow night on our local university campus. It is free for me to go, and I thought about it.

    But, I am disappointed with Newt as of late, and I don't like Howard Dean. I've planned on spending the evening alone with my 8yo daughter to clean her room and put away summer clothes, making note of what she needs.

    To anyone that would respond:

    Would you go?

    I appreciate your opinion. Thanks!

  2. Gail B says:

    From 'The State' newspaper:

    Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2009
    Sanford impeachment resolution "out of order"

    An attempt to introduce a resolution to impeach embattled Gov. Mark Sanford was ruled out of order Tuesday by S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston.

    State Rep. Greg Delleney, R-Chester, offered the resolution to impeach Sanford for vanishing for five days in June, saying the two-term Republican governor had abandoned his job.

    However, when Delleney tried to introduce his resolution it was ruled out of order under the terms of the resolution that allowed legislators to come back into special session Tuesday to deal with restoring jobless benefits to unemployed South Carolinians and extending tax breaks to an unspecified company looking to locate a plant in South Carolina, widely thought to be Boeing.

    Delleney said he did not expect House members to act immediately on his resolution, saying that would be premature while the state Ethics Commission continues its investigation into allegations that Sanford misused state aircraft, violated state travel rules and has not accounted for his use of campaign funds.

    However, other House members said introducing the bill violated the terms of the House’s return for its special session.

    Delleney said those rules do not apply to the House's constitutional authority to impeach a governor.

    House leaders have said they want to wait until the Ethics Commission finishes it work before considering impeachment, meaning the House would not consider the issue until January.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I have a new found respect for Sanford. I would never say that what he did was right, it was not. It was very wrong.

    I'm a person who would never do what he did, I have too much to lose. And then all of a sudden, you can find yourself weak and tempted. When a wife withholds, and uses sex against a husband as a tool, a strong man can become very weak, very quickly.

    This in no shape way or form gives Sanford a pass and I'm not suggesting that this is what happened to him. I just know that a good man with strong values can go down very quickly when put in this position. It's not something that is done willfully, and it's done with regret.

    I don't know how to express my feelings for a man in such a position other then I feel for them, and I hope and pray that they would be able to muster up the strength to maintain the values they express to the world.


  4. Sundae5 says:

    Newt is not for us. He keeps his true self close to his chest. In 1995 he was backing a plan to form a Constitutional Convention which would have, as you know changed our country dramatically and not for the better.

    Jeff, our current president admits his past cocaine use. Your indiscretions hardly seem presidential.

    On Sanford – I am glad it is now rather than when hopes had been pinned on him and there would have been so much more to lose.

    Gail, please check out:

    You would really be a great addition.


  5. Anonymous says:

    We're around the bend… Barney Franks can have a boyfriend that prostitutes out of his basement while Barney commits all sorts of things against America,but this poor guy cheats on his wife and he's crucified…

    I'm not saying he was justified in his actions,but I'd rather live next door to him than Franks.

    There is no equality or justice.

  6. Rix says:

    Sanford have wronged his wife and likely deserves a beating, but the persistent political cannibalism shown by the Republicans irks me greatly. I wish they'd learn to protect and cover for each other like Democrats do, no matter how ugly the alleged behavior. Instead, they engage in a sort of "holier than thou" games that leaves the party bloodied, weakened and leaderless. Frankly, I don't give a rat's arse for whom my governor bangs – heck, we had Jim McGreevey here in NJ! – as long as it's not my wife, my daughter or my wallet that he's having sex with.

  7. goddessdivine says:

    Just don't claim that you "didn't inhale".

    And to Anon at 8:14: I would totally go. As much as I don't like Newt's decision as of late to back and Obama-lite candidate, that guy can debate anyone into a corner and would LOVE to watch him do so to Howard Dean.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Off topic:

    “Not too long ago, two friends of mine were talking to a Cuban refugee, a businessman who had escaped from Castro, and in the midst of his story one of my friends turned to the other and said, “We don’t know how lucky we are.” And the Cuban stopped and said, “How lucky you are? I had someplace to escape to.” And in that sentence he told us the entire story. If we lose freedom here, there’s no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth…"

    Set aside 30 minutes. You won't regret it.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Ah, well, he understood the people? Hmmm…then, if that is true he would've understood the trauma he inflicted upon his wife and children. The guy is no hero…fiscally, politcally, or otherwise. He got what he had coming, and conservatives had better not sympathize with this sort of so-called "sad" outcome because I do well remember the screaming about Clinton, and the assumption that he was unable to serve given his lack of moral capacity.
    What this man did to his wife and family doesn't just stop at the Appalachian Trail, Jeff…which isn't funny, btw…try to think about the impact it would have on your wife and child had you made the choice to have an adulterous affair, lie about it, and then what that might entail as far as impact on their lives. Ask your wife. Maybe then you'll understand why it is such a "scourge"…which you mentioned in a previous post…the fact that you can't understand why it is such a scourge. Amazing…

  10. Anonymous says:

    Oh, gosh…reading these above posts is painful to say the least. Everybody on here is defending this guy. Sick…hypocrit conservatives!!! No wonder liberals have so much disdain for your so-called morals! This guy is a creep! He wreaked havoc on his family, and he wreaked havoc on his constituents. Rix…it isn't cannabalism. It's deserved! The guy should be OUT! Don't forget all of the conservatives who screamed for Clinton to be OUT! This is asinine. And, Steve…ah shucks…what a sad sad story you lay out there for poor ol sex deprived Sanford…oh, but not saying that's what happened…just throwing the sympathy card out there for him…just in case… when he's getting what happens as a result of his actions…CONSEQUENCES!!!!!!! I've seen this sort of behavior all too many times, and it is time for people to wake up and realize that when a person does something such as this, it isn't just a slap on the wrist thing, and it doesn't deserve any sympathy. Here we have a guy like Steve blaming the victim…the guy's wife…for possibly depriving the man of sex???? Are you kidding me? Blame the victim mentality…

  11. Anonymous says:

    Everyone seems outraged that those who choose these indiscretions then lie about it. Thats all part of it, you don't play around then tell what you did with whom. As for Bill, what seemed odd was that Hillary defended him, even calling it a right wing conspiracy. But ask yourself, would she be the sect. of state if she had told what she knew in her heart to be, what she knew his actions of the past to be?

  12. Bodenzee says:

    Anonymous 8:14 pm

    I share you disappointment with Newr Gingrich. If been less than enthusiastic about him of late and recently a friend showed me a DVD on Newt that documented his actions, It tipped me over to the No-New side.

    Howard Dean is only worth listening to if you want to hear his distorted views. I don't nned to.

    Your times is much better spent being an involved parent.

  13. John Feeny says:

    Everyone shouls spread these links around…for some reason, Facebook is not allowing me to post them…I wonder why.

  14. Anonymous says:

    It doesn't shock me that Sanford had an affair..I'm sure it has happened to many others in politics that we just don't know about..I am amazed at his reaction when all this came out and was made public. Watching him slobbering about his 'soul mate' and all that garbage made me want to throw up…to say he was going to 'try' to fall in love with his wife again was indicative of how arrogant he is. I still believe he is in love with that woman and if I were his wife, I would tell him not to let the door hit him on the way out. He is no repentent about this affair and he dragged this out and humiliated his family even more as the 'details' came out.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Steve above:

    I don't have any respect for you saying what you said above.

    Poor man. . . that his wife "withheld." Grow up. Sex is more than intercourse. Satisfying your wife is more than sex. Work on it and perhaps you'd see your relationships are more satisfying when you actually have a mature outlook than the "gimme, gimme" outlook. Go to counseling. The fact that you would even consider cheating shows me that you have already and you are trying to justify it.

    There is no excuse for cheating. That is not the way to solve you problems.

    And, as a side note, years ago my ex cheated on me when I was having sex with him every day of our marriage. So, no, I don't believe your excuses. I am remarried now, years later, to a loyal man. We have sex at a normal pace and I am confident that he would never cheat on me. Why? Because he has a good sense of self esteem and is loyal to everyone, not just me.

    Someone who cheats on his wife also cheats on his neighbors, friends and family. At first, the wife thinks "oh, he would cheat on that person and that one, but he would never cheat on me. . "

    The fact is, the person is who he/she is down deep inside. If you can't be loyal on a small thing like sex with your spouse, you can't be trusted with a big thing like the lives and economic future of your country.

    Wake up and smell the coffee! I feel sorry for anyone you marry. And, similarly, I don't believe Sanford has any business being in the public eye (unless he was a Democrat, they hold that kind of behavior sacred).


  16. Gail B says:

    Oh, Lordy! Where do I start?!

    I heard someone talking about Clinton's escapades, and he pointed out that the Democrats' attitude was "Oh, well, that's not so important." But, when he lied under oath, he got into trouble.

    I second Rix's comment in its entirety! The conservatives and Republicans should stand up for
    each other. I do not condone infidelity by any stretch, but I do not expect everyone to be perfect, either!

    I was married 21 years to a man (don't laugh) seven inches shorter than I am; he had the short man syndrome and was unfaithful to me.

    The first time I caught him, I told him to make a choice–he could go his merry way; he could go home to his mother; he could stay with me; he could go to his girlfriend; or he could go to hell–but MAKE A COMMITMENT! He stayed. (The poor girl had bought TWO wedding dresses!)

    The second time I caught him, I called him at work and reminded him that it was our 21st wedding anniversary. He asked me what I would like as a gift. I told him, "A divorce."

    Cases of infidelity should be handled between the parties involved–the man and his wife, and not be the business of the nation, political party, etc. Whether tax money has been (mis)used in the incident(s) is quite another matter.

    It boils down to the attitude of the conservative Republican party, in that conservatism is the smart way to think, and being unfaithful "ain't too smart!"

    Thanks for the link. I signed up.

    Anonymous at 8:14 PM–
    I would go, too. Maybe he'll say something about the RINO he endorsed! Palin endorsed the Independent candidate in that race.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Godessdivine, Bodenzee, and Gail B-

    I didn't go, but my 17yo son wanted to go, so I gave him the $8 (which surprised him for some reason; it surprised me he wanted to go).

    I'll get his take on things and tell you if you're interested, but know this: when I asked him why he wanted to go, he said he wanted to meet Howard Dean {barf} and that he didn't know what the health care issue was. So I imagine that will be his point of view.

    Thanks for your input, and, yeah, Gail, definitely a recent turn-off on Newt supporting the lady with the funny name.

    The Arrow (campus paper) had on its cover this week a story about tonight's debate between Newt and Dean with a picture of each of them. I gave it to my son and told him to get both men's autograph.

  18. Anonymous says:

    BTW Gail, Palin was here before the election, and I missed her, too!

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