Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sanford story, fallout sorely lack logic

The governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, recently admitted to having an affair with a woman in Argentina. (Read all about it here.) *UPDATE: Today he admitted to "crossing the line" with other women as well, that there was "physical contact" but not sex. Read the AP story here.

There's a couple facets to the story:

  • 1. He's a Republican, who in the past called on President Clinton to resign after the Monica Lewinsky scandal
  • 1a. He's a Republican, the party of "family values," who cheated on his wife.
  • 2. He lied about his whereabouts on his most recent trip to Argentina, telling staffers he was hiking on the Appalachian trail
  • 2a. He didn't transfer his powers of governor to the lieutenant governor before he left
  • 3. He used taxpayer dollars to make trips to Argentina
  • 4. Even in his absence, he's still on the taxpayers' payroll
  • 5. He has said he is not going to resign from his governorship
Setting aside the actual affair, you have a governor who lied to his staff, S.C. legislators, S.C. residents and even Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer about his whereabouts. For five days. You also have a governor who used taxpayer dollars to take personal trips. A resignation is in order here, affair or not. If this were my governor, I'd be furious. You don't get to steal from and lie to an entire state and remain governor. Unless you're Sanford, apparently.

But this story gets even crazier when you look at the fallout from it, and who is saying what. Logic must have taken a trip to Argentina too, because it certainly isn't present in much of this story.

First of all, let's look at what Sanford himself has said about not resigning:
"I would ultimately be a better person and of more service in whatever doors God opened next in life if I stuck around to learn lessons rather than running and hiding down at the farm."
Um, wouldn't the lesson be that after lying and stealing, you have to resign? By not resigning, you're actually getting away with doing all this. What's the lesson in that? Do first, apologize second. Not a lesson we need to be learning.

Second, here's what one Sanford supporter says as to why he should stay in office:
State Rep. Nikki Haley, another Sanford ally running for governor next year, said last week that the governor should stay in office because otherwise, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer would assume the top office. Haley said that would be a step backward for the conservative reform movement in the state.
But having a governor in office that lied and cheated is not a step backward for the conservative reform movement? The longer he's in office, the longer people talk about this story and all the hypocrisy therein. And it is just me, or does this imply that Nikki Haley is putting the conservative reform movement above the constituents of South Carolina? Note that Haley is running for governor next year, because ...

Two major South Carolina newspapers -- The State, which broke the news of Sanford's Argentina trip, and The Charleston Post and Courier -- on Tuesday called for Sanford to stay in office.

"Reasonable people can disagree over whether it would be better to have Mr. Sanford or Mr. Bauer in the governor's office for the next 18 months. And if Mr. Bauer were not running for governor, this might be a more difficult call. But Mr. Bauer is running for governor, and it simply is not responsible to overlook the tremendous advantage he would have if he were able to use the bully pulpit of that office for the next year," said an op-ed in The State.

Oh, so Bauer is running for governor next year, and having him become governor after Sanford resigns would give him an unfair advantage in the election. What the hell kind of reason is that to defend why Sanford should not resign? Bauer IS the lieutenant governor, and he's next in line should Sanford resign. Those are the facts. Sucks if you don't like Bauer, but that has nothing to do with whether Sanford should resign. This isn't about the next election. This is about Sanford and his actions. (And this doesn't even bring up the fact that trial run as governor could hurt Bauer in the election, if he doesn't do the job well.)

Some even go so far as to say Bauer doesn't have enough experience to run the state. What are the odds that people claiming this thought Sarah Palin was ready to run the country if necessary? I'll go with "high."

Then you have reasons like this one:

Sanford asked for forgiveness after admitting his mistakes. Unlike Bill Clinton who looked into the camera and lied to the American people, Sanford was man enough to own up to his failures. He is far and away a better man than the likes of Barney Frank, Bill Clinton, Rod Blagojevich, Eliot Spitzer, and others who were caught with their hands in the cookie jar. As a Christian, I am constrained to forgive Mark Sanford.

What?! Hello sir, Sanford DID lie. About the affair (to his family) and about the trip (to everyone). Sure he "owned up" to it. So did Clinton and Spitzer, after first lying. And just what makes Sanford a better man than all these mentioned? Yes, how very Christian of you.

And there's even thoughts like this going around:

Democrats think they can use Sanford as an albatross if he remains in office.

Nice. Again with the misguided logic and priorities. The people of South Carolina deserve better than having Sanford remain as governor. He shouldn't remain in office just so Democrats can kick this story around during the next election. (Like it wouldn't come up anyway.)

To be sure, there are a number of people calling for Sanford's resignation. But those saying he shouldn't really need to come up with better reasons for why he gets to remain in office. *In light of the new news coming out, I wonder how long people will keep defending him.

UPDATE 2: I like this article's idea of "resignation by media."

UPDATE 3: The chairwoman of the South Carolina GOP, Karen Floyd, issued a statement: "For the past two days, I have been speaking with Republican leaders across South Carolina. There is clearly a growing view that the time may have come for Gov. Sanford to remove himself and his family from the limelight, so that he can devote his efforts full-time to repairing the damage in his personal life," she said.

UPDATE 4: I feel I could spend hours a day updating this (I won't), but these stories shouldn't be ignored:

  • Jenny Sanford, the governor's wife, says she can forgive him for the affair. She's far and away a better person than I.
  • Mark Sanford has already been cleared of any illegal activity. Is it me, or was that the quickest investigation ever? And odd, considering Sanford paid back money used to make trips, which would seemingly indicated he did something wrong in the first place? Why else would he pay back the money?
  • Poll numbers, unsurprisingly, aren't looking good for the guv. My favorite:
A week ago only 22% thought Sanford had "said too much" about his personal life, while 36% thought he needed to say more and 36% thought he had revealed "the right amount." Today an overwhelming 68% think he's now said too much.

Count me in among the 68 percent, please!


Razor said...

Seriously, the Republicans are just a walking hypocrisy machine at this point. And I'm sorry, if you're one of the few (very, very few) decent Republicans and you choose to associate yourself with this party, you're a hypocrite too.

This party needs to go the way of the Whigs, pronto.

BrentBillock said...

What happened to the days when politicians had to invent a reason why their politically convenient position was really in the best interest of their constituency more than themselves?

Dick Cheney didn't say "I want to invade Iraq because my company could make a whoooole lot of money." He said Iraq had WMD that threatened us. And he went on TV day after day and said that with a straight face. That's what professional politicians do.

If Ms. Haley wants to ascend past the state legislature, she would do well to study how major league politicians project an illusion of idealism while putting their own greed and ambition above the public interest.

Inspector Clouseau said...

From my perspective, the issue is quite simple. Rightly or wrongly, he has lost a substantial number of people who are willing to support him, place confidence in him, and trust him. A leader needs as many people believing in him or her as possible.

As for resignation, http://www.tinyurl.com/n3vlg3


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