I’ll pause for a moment and allow some reflection time for everyone who scolded me for smelling a rat in the Gov. Mark Sanford case.
“Why pay attention to this?” said the finger-waggers.
“This is just media-driven,” chimed the chorus.
“There’s a perfectly good explanation,” insisted many. “We just haven’t heard it yet.”
No matter how many times I told people that if there were a satisfying clarification that we would have heard it immediately, the drumbeat was relentless. People sick of attacks from the left gave in to the unfortunate temptation to engage in denial in the face of a valid controversy.
We heard the explanation Wednesday afternoon, and it wasn’t perfectly good. It was sickeningly awful.
Delving into details that reeked of adolescent excuse-making — His mistress was once a “dear, dear friend.” It started out “innocently” — the man who might have been the 45th president of the United States shared a disjointed, awkward statement and then foolishly chose to take questions!
At many levels, I suppose I should be thankful that a guy who I might have favored for the GOP nomination has done us all the favor of revealing that he is a complete idiot. The most profound evidence of his stunning stupidity is his willingness to sacrifice his family and maybe even the presidency for a few rounds of Argentinean lust.
What in God’s name was this man thinking? Actually, nothing in God’s name, to be sure. Or God’s law.
Much will be made of another transgression by a family values Republican. It is fine to invoke the added irony of such immoral behavior by a member of the party that embraces high standards in that regard, but there will be gleeful attempts to suggest that the occasional Mark Sanfords and John Ensigns and Mark Foleys mean that Republicans do not in fact have a right to hold those standards and recommend them for others.
That is patently absurd.
Sanford himself surely does not need to be delivering any fidelity lectures any time soon, but his failings in no way preclude a continuing emphasis on moral behavior by other conservatives.
Liberals will issue that criticism because they know moral laxitude is one reason why the “L” word has become such an epithet that they have to call themselves “progressives.”
Sanford should step down immediately as South Carolina governor. Some voters may want him to go; others may want him to stay. That does not matter. His prime obligation now is to the family he has severely injured. Healing does not happen best when the offender is a busy elected official, and it surely doesn’t happen best under the glare of TV lights.
He will be dogged by reporters for a while even if he resigns, but that will wane quickly. Every day he remains in office will now be a wound-opening nightmare for his wife and sons, who deserve better. Of course, they also deserve better than a globe-trotting skank for a husband and father. But that is the reality of this moment.
Can that change? Sure. Mark Sanford may be able to reassemble the family he has shattered, earning the forgiveness of his wife and kids. That is my prayer for them.
There will be no second chance for him to become a presidential hopeful. He must now focus on a second chance to reestablish an even more lofty goal: the right to once again be considered a good man.
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