This afternoon’s blog was going to be about Iran and President Obama’s reticence to overtly bashing the regime, as the conservative right side of the political aisle has criticized him for not doing. There was also going to be mention of the fact that Obama’s strategy of not making the internal strife in Iran about the USA was the exact right thing to do.
But this was not to be. As current events (and luck) would have it, this blog is several hours late in production due to summer tasks that always scream for attention. That fact allowed a golden baseball of opportunity to land into this writer’s lap (as it were).
A late-breaking story about republican Mark Sanford, the conservative republican governor of South Carolina, preempted the best laid (if you’ll pardon the pun… ) plans. Sanford, you’ll remember, is the guy who refused to take the federal money made available to all states by the Obama Stimulus Package. Specifically, Sanford rejected $700 million that was to help the unemployed and fund projects in his state that would put people back to work.
Sanford was sued in South Carolina, and on June 5th, 2009, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that Sanford must accept the money and use it for its intended purposes. As a result, Sanford evidently planned a little get-away from a tough political season and the stresses of his life. On June 18th, he “disappeared”.
No one seemed to know initially where he was, but when pressed by the Press for answers, his staff finally said that he went hiking on the Appalachian Trail, which, though peculiar for a governor to disappear for several days without even letting the Lt. governor know, was at least a plausible explanation. Never mind that his evident lack of stability probably destroyed any chance he ever had to run successfully for president in 2012 or beyond.
But that pesky press just wasn’t satisfied with the hiking explanation. And lo and behold, as Sanford was deplaning at Hartfield Airport in Atlanta, Georgia after a flight from Buenos Aires, Argentina, he ran smack into a reporter. The reporter asked him if he had gone alone to Buenos Aires and he said yes. But when the reporter asked where he had stayed, Sanford’s response was, “I see where you’re going with this”, and he left without answering.
Of course, it wouldn’t be long before every news wire service reporter in Argentina found out exactly where Sanford had stayed (and with whom). In fact, they probably will track it down,anyway. But Sanford made what may turn out to be the smartest move in his life, considering how screwed up his life presently is: he came clean.
Sanford admitted to having an affair. He would have been found out anyway, considering that just you can’t get from the Appalachian Trail to Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport by jet transport. But by admitting to it right after being caught in the hiking lie, he disarmed all the potential blow-by-blow unfolding of every sordid detail in this situation, Watergate-like. However, that’s where the smart moves start and end.
First and foremost, this is a politician who espoused very conservative values, attempting to distinguish himself as a bastion of morality, religious piousness, family values, fiscal conservatism, libertarian views on small government, etc., etc. That’s all fine for anyone, until they get caught with their hand in the cookie jar, so to speak. The very conservative often fancy themselves as morality police or even leaders who can act on our moral behalf. It thus becomes that much more newsworthy when it turns out they don’t practice what they preach.
Sanford and his brethren, such as Sarah Palin, would like to have the rest of us believe that they are, in fact, “purer” than those dastardly liberals who are screwing EVERYTHING up. They wear their brand of morality like a shield and a badge of honor, as though the mere sight of them will make good people squeaky-clean, and inversely, the rest of the heathens will be seen for what they (we) really are: heathens!!
One has to believe that the image of the GOP couldn’t get any worse, since everything allegedly bad about them seemingly has already been written and witnessed by the entire world. But Sanford was the chairman the Republican Governors Association (RGA) before any of this was exposed. He has since resigned while this blog was being written. Interesting, the RGA, according its own web site, is leading the GOP back to popularity. Kinda. Sorta…
The real point is this: People are human and as such they are imperfect. They tend to make imperfect judgments which often result in mistakes. To err is human, it is said, and on that basis, we are all at that party. But there are way too many of those who like to preach at others about how they should live, what they should believe and what they should think. They set themselves up as authorities on right and wrong, good and evil, acceptable and unacceptable. Those people would do well to watch and learn from the ordeal of the Mark Sanfords of the world.
And to Mark Sanford himself: Not so easy being a mere, weak, imperfect human, is it?
But then, most of us already knew that.