France, Italy and much of the European Union have much to snicker about these days.
No, I’m not referring to the Obama Apology Tour or the stern letters we send off to the dangerously unbalanced (and poorly dressed) North Korean despot, Kim Jong-Il, warning him that the United States would be quite displeased if he sent yet another missile our way. Forget the carnage in the streets of Iran, or the persistent bloodshed in Afghanistan and Iraq. While you’re at it, just ignore the Obama Administration’s blitzkrieg on our personal freedoms, our nation’s economy and the quasi-nationalization of an increasing number of industries. Also kindly refrain from remembering the $1,000,000,000 debt.
But the euros view the delineation between a politician’s personal and professional life (as long as it doesn’t frighten the horses) as totally separate. To think otherwise would be so provincial. So no doubt to their jaded eyes, the recent discovery of a year long dalliance between South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (R) and an Argentine reporter might raise a plucked eyebrow or two.
Here in the States, it has raised a huge ruckus. Until recently considered 2012 presidential timber, Democrats have been buzzing through this scandal like a white oak through a wood chipper. But white oaks tend to weather tough storms, have deep roots and are known for their longevity.
There is no excuse for Governor Sanford’s egregious behavior. He joins a long list of politicians whose peccadilloes have either landed them in the Washington Tidal Basin (Wilbur Mills) or the equivalent of political water boarding. A select few even end up with a trophy wife. To name just a few (you decide!), there’s Charles “#9” Spitzer, Mark McGreevy, Charles Foley, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Barney Frank (whose “roommate” ran a male prostitution ring out of Rep. Frank’s home, of which he was supposedly unaware), former presidential hopeful Gary Hart, who dared photographers to catch him – and was then photographed aboard the aptly named “Monkey Business” with the lovely, but none-the-less not-his-wife Donna Rice, Bill Clinton, Larry Craig, and perhaps the most notorious fraternity of JFK, RFK and Teddy Kennedy.
In general, when a Democrat’s indiscretion is splashed across the media, the Democrats tend to group around the person who has strayed. Whether it is print, cable, radio, all will be utilized to decry how the poor fellow or lady has been grossly maligned. Unless a media blitz is not in the situation’s best interest, in which case it will be most efficiently and quietly swept under the Congressional carpet. This tight phalanx then typically goes on the offensive to protect both the individual’s position, and reputation.
On the other hand, many Republicans seem to be a peculiarly spineless breed. At times, they are almost eager to push their colleagues under the proverbial bus with the most astonishing speed. At the first whiff of foul weather, they head for shelter. Not only is this unfair to those who may or may not be miscreants, but it also shows a singular lack of solidarity and self-preservation as a party.
South Carolina has long been known for its fiercely independent attitude. From the “Swamp Fox” of the American War for Independence to the Civil War (or, as some prefer, “the Recent Unpleasantness”), this tradition carries on today. When Gov. Sanford came to his senses by holding a press conference, he made four extremely important points, while at times unsuccessfully choking back tears: 1. He didn’t justify what he had done. 2. He apologized to the many family and friends, staffers and constituents. 3. He expressed his sorrow at his behavior and noted that he had been seeking counseling from trusted advisors to make amends. 4. He immediately resigned from his Chairmanship of the Republican Governors Association. The Democrats hate it when they perceive Republicans to act “holier than thou.” But sometimes it’s for real.
Politicians should not be treated like they’re infallible or superhuman. They make mistakes; granted some are worse than others. Winston Churchill’s career was almost irrevocably ended during World War I after the debacle of Gallipoli. Thousands of gallant young men, some battle hardened, all obedient to their call, met untimely deaths. Yet, if Churchill had not been allowed an opportunity to redeem himself, then you might be reading this in German.
Both as a U.S. Congressman and as Governor, Sanford has made difficult choices and honored commitments (such as Congressional term limits). Recently, he turned down $700,000.00 in federal stimulus money. He believed that, in the long run, it would hurt the state, when the money came due. He is a fiscal conservative at a time when many have spent their income before they make it. The current Administration is the most obvious example of that.
At a time of deep economic peril, the answer is not to spend or print money we don’t have. As a nation, it’s time we shut off the printing presses at Treasury. Mark Sanford deserves a second chance. And America has always been known as a nation of second chances.