Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
June 25, 2009
POLITICS: Sanford Steps Out, But The Battle Continues

Perhaps the most telling moment in the past few days' controversy over South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford's absence and subsequent revelation that he'd been visiting his mistress in Argentina came during the period when his staff was putting out the story that Sanford was hiking the Appalachian Trail, and the Democratic National Committee rushed out a press release blaring that the Trail had received stimulus money, and therefore Sanford - as an ardent opponent of the stimulus bill - was a hypocrite for walking on ground that had been touched by Obama's pork-barrel bill. Once the reach of the federal fisc had touched that ground, no possible alternative is permissible but to agree with the political dictates of the hand that holds those purse strings.

The incident speaks volumes about the peril the nation faces to its way of life, and the depth of the trust Sanford breached by engaging in a reckless affair at a time when he was one of the small handful of people in the country well-positioned to do something to stop it.

We live in a time when the governing majority in Washington is pressing to weaken or coopt every institution that could stand, as De Toqueville would put it, as an independent bulwark against the power and pervasive influence of the federal government - private businesses bought off with no-exit bailouts and subsidies or coerced with regulatory threats, the states bribed with no-exit stimulus money and compelled to accept it, private charities subsidized or supplanted, universities, newspapers, schools, churches, the family - everyone ensnared in the influence of Washington and expected to dance its tune, and none permitted to stand against the one, singular set of value judgments imposed by the cultural and economic Left. The push to insert the federal government far more deeply into health insurance and health care is now the critical inflection point. Health care involves a person's most basic, private, intimate, familial and life-and-death values and relationships. "Health" can be and is used, by the Left, as an excuse to regulate everything else - the argument being that if the taxpayer's involved in your medical care, Uncle Sam has a financial interest in whether you smoke, wear a seatbelt, own a gun, eat fast food, watch too much television, etc., etc., etc.

We sometimes hear the much more modest ambitions of the Right - prohibiting abortion, maintaining existing legal definitions of marriage - described as if they were some sort of massive conspiracy to meddle in other people's private lives. Libertarians complain, in the same-sex marriage debate, that really we'd be better off if the government was out of the marriage business entirely. But of course, such things are inconceivable as long as the federal government keeps expanding - with ever more programs directed at 'families,' government is incapable of staying neutral on how to define a family, as it would in a nation with more liberty and less government. On issue after issue, we get cultural flashpoints precisely because government has already moved in and set up shop, and is now just quibbling over the price.

For all of that, there is still, out there in the public, a fair amount of sentiment in support for the traditional American way of life - having liberty and taking personal responsibility for your own decisions, the bad ones as well as the good ones. But what that public sentiment is missing is a leader. A lot of the burden of speaking out on the issue has fallen on older right-wing war horses like Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich, but while Rush and Newt are formidable spokesmen, neither holds elective office or is likely to again. And the battered Beltway GOP has lost many of its leaders and most of its authority on size-of-government issues. That's one reason why so many hopes have devolved on the next generation, the 50-and-under Republicans, many of them in state government or in the House: Sanford, Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Pat Toomey.

Among that younger generation, Sanford stood out as the most experienced, and has compiled a strong record not only of principle but of public integrity, from leaving Washington after three terms in Congress to battling his own party back home over spending. It's too early to pick a horse for 2012, but a lot of us had already put valuable time and energy into studying up on Sanford and promoting his views: I'd interviewed Sanford and written up a long profile of him when I could have been doing something else with my time, just as I'd pored over video clips of him last summer. Erick Erickson stuck his neck out during Sanford's absence, passing on his staff's explanation about being on the Appalachian Trail. Even to those of us already jaded about politicians, Sanford seemed, however quirky, to be a true believer in the good fight and a solid if unexciting guy to possibly line up behind.

And Sanford betrayed us, just as he betrayed his family; he lied to us and wasted our time. But that's not what is so frustrating - it's that at a time and place when the nation desperately needs champions of our traditional liberties, he was one of only a few people who could really have made a difference. To read his emails to his mistress, you can sense that Sanford was in the hold of a deep infatuation, and any of us who have been lovesick teenagers can understand that, but the man's not a teenager; he's a married father with responsibilities not just to his family and his State but to the nation as a whole. He's not easily replaced, and the American people will be poorer for his abandonment.

The Left, of course, sensing the removal of an obstacle to ever-greater social control, is ecstatic at Sanford's downfall. It's amusing to watch, given that these are the same folks who told us a decade ago that an executive's affairs - even felonies committed to cover them up - are nobody's business and only the concern of people with some sort of mental problem (I believe it was Sid Blumenthal who argued that anyone remotely disturbed by Bill Clinton's affairs must be a closeted homosexual), but then they always just assume nobody remembers what they said back then, having no principles but the pursuit of power. The convenient excuse is that it's only hypocrisy when Republicans act immorally, on the theory that Democrats don't believe in right and wrong anyway, an argument whose counter-factual nature and fundamental depravity I have dealt with at length before and won't rehash here. Republicans, while we may disagree among ourselves about precisely the impact of Sanford's affair, aren't switching sides on this the way the Democrats do, and have all but unanimously written him off for the office Clinton once held; nobody is planning a pep rally on the Statehouse lawn to celebrate in his honor. (I had more thoughts on the significance of marital infidelity to executive and legislative roles in this post on John McCain last fall).

The fight to preserve the American people's independence from Washington control will continue. But for now, the people will have to fight on without one of their best leaders. Shame on him for that.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:00 PM | Politics 2009 | Comments (29) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

As Woody Allen said, "The heart wants what the heart wants."

Posted by: steve at June 25, 2009 1:03 PM

Woody Allen was referring to the wrong organ.

Personally, I don't discount candidates due to marital infidelity. I tend to keep separate a candidate's personal and public life. Frankly, I'd rather not know these things. More troubling was his sudden absence with no means of contact, and then the cover-up.

Posted by: MVH at June 25, 2009 1:46 PM

Has anyone seen my dog, I posted flyers all over the neighborhood?

Seriously, Crank your posting resembles the Press Conference Stanford held yesterday. If you guys actually pick the politician by their qualifications and quit falling for the first one that pander to your morals the political debate in this country would advance to something productive. The path is almost clear for Palin.

Posted by: javaman at June 25, 2009 2:16 PM

If you guys actually pick the politician by their qualifications and quit falling for the first one that pander to your morals

I don't even know what that's supposed to mean. You mean Sanford was an inexperienced guy who had never run anything and we all fell for him because he talked pretty and played on his symbolic significance? Wrong party, dude.

Sanford's a three-term Congressman and two-term Governor, and a classic substance-over-style kinda guy. And while he's a solid social conservative, he's always made his name almost entirely on his fiscal conservative credentials. You're just talking to your own delusions at this point.

Posted by: Crank at June 25, 2009 2:23 PM

That was one of the funniest things I have read in a long time. Nice that the real world does not exist or at least apply in any way here. From mentioning Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich as the spokespeople for some moral way of life (that brought the freaking house down, man) to the rest of the pie-in-the-sky malarky you manage to avoid the true issues in a simply stunning way.

These folks on the right aren't mere mild-mannered advocates for a "moral" way of life (let me know exactly what that is as well) they are fire and brimstone, our way or the highway, Bible thumping (in many cases), absolute values, our way (usually Christian or some take thereof) is THE way sort of people. Look at Sanford's statements on EVERYONE else that had a little fling. When's he stepping down? Oh, right.

The thing is I like him better now. At least he has something that I can agree or relate to in that apparently he is a human being and not some Stepford dude.

Keep glossing and spinning. Shine those turds all day long and make it the Democrats fault. Tell us your big, fat leader who is a law-breaking drug addict can yell and shout us all back to a moral way of life. Painfully tiresome, except for the unintentional comedic value.

Posted by: jim at June 25, 2009 2:51 PM

jim,
Republicans HAVE to talk about morals and values. It's all they have to offer the citizens (the talk). Their ideology has proven to be an abject failure for the average American (i.e those who are not corporate executives or the ultra-rich).
The best part is, even all their moral values talk is shown to be a bunch of malarkey as well.

Posted by: Berto at June 25, 2009 5:25 PM

At least the GOP has standards, even it breaks them from time to time. The Democrats don't even have standards.

And what failure are you talking about? The failure we're in now? Because that was not brought about by conservatism, it was brought about by the opposite of it.

Posted by: per14 at June 25, 2009 5:43 PM

per14,

All I can say is "Thanks folks, the veal is great and don't forget to tip your waitress." These aren't standards. Perhaps YOU personally have standards (I assume you do) but these jackasses that thunder away at morality, religiosity, etc., etc., etc. and then are complete, utter, flagrant shams don't have standards. They like to set standards for others and not apply them to themselves. What you have in a vast majority of the GOP leadership is a joke. You CURRENTLY have 2 hard core "moral values" guys busted dicking around. Aside from the huge number of closeted homosexuals in the GOP it seems that if they aren't secretly gay they run around on their wives with other women in between morality speeches. It's ridiculous.

To not notice this is sort of confusing.

Posted by: jim at June 25, 2009 5:53 PM

It was also nice (if predictable) to hear Karl Rove throw Sanford under the bus, back the bus up, run him over, back it up over him and then peel out on him one last time. "Mark who? Never heard of the guy." Hee-larious.

Posted by: jim at June 25, 2009 6:00 PM

Hee-larious? As funny as holding a pep rally for a felon in the White House? One who perjured himself and subourned perjury in others?

And you guys defend them while fanning yourselves over GOP indiscretions by claiming, "Hey, we told you we didn't stand for anything."

Ensign and Sanford are not hard-core moral values guys, but if it makes you feel better about your own moral laxity to cast them as such, knock yourselves out.

I can't help but compare the reaction of Crank here, Rove and other conservatives--who immediately move on from Sanford for falling for a woman not his wife--to those of you progressives who would have raced each other to defend any of yours caught out the same way. And assured us we were scolds for passing judgment.

You people have no concept of intellectual honesty and that's why none of us respect your opinions. Well, that and all the other stuff.

Posted by: spongeworthy at June 25, 2009 6:52 PM

jim,
Talking about closeted homosexuals in the GOP in one post, then Karl Rove in another is redundant.

Posted by: Berto at June 25, 2009 6:53 PM

Can we get sources on any of this stuff? It's like the more liberal commenters have invented their own view of reality and then post expecting other readers to have already adopted that view as well. (I don't deny that conservative commenters do this, but this is a conservative blog and I'd like facts if you want me to change my views.)

At any rate, where did Karl Rove say that? Where is conservatism proven be an "abject failure?" Where is Sanford shown to be "bible-thumping?" What were his statements on other politicians' affairs? It's fine to cite all these things, but provide a source or I'm forced to discount your arguments. On the other hand, given that you're all trolls anyway, I doubt you care.

Posted by: DKH at June 25, 2009 6:57 PM

I could give a crap where Sanford sticks his penis, but cutting himself off from his staff for any period of time without leaving the Lt. Gov. in charge is inexcusable. He completely abdicated his responsibility to the people of South Carolina and should resign immediately.

Posted by: Jimmy Mac at June 25, 2009 6:58 PM

Wow, to keep bringing up Bill Clinton 12 YEARS after it all happened just keep you GOP standard bearers as irrelevant as the antics of Craig, Ensign, and Sanford. Keep building that scaffold as your standard bearers keep blowing it up fellas. And make sure "Bill Clinton" and "blowjob" are prominent in your screeds.

And of course, pile on the president as he is required to out-Bush Bush in expanding the federal government to eradicate the nuclear fallout W left in his pitiful wake. I mean really, has shame not only vacated your vocabulary but also your conscience? To blast the president's unfortunate expansion efforts when your poster boy W is the cause of the problem is beyond ironic.

Posted by: splinter at June 25, 2009 7:05 PM

spongeworthy,
If it makes you feel better, I'll agree that the GOP never really cared about morals. It's just schtick they use to get the superstitious (i.e religious) to vote for their candidates. In the same way, they really have nothing against minorities, foreigners, or homosexuals either. They just want the bigot voting bloc top pull the lever for the guy with the "R" after his name.
The GOP needs the votes of the superstitious and bigots to garner 50%+1 votes to win elections. They don't really care about the needs and wants of the religious voting bloc or the bigots they court. Their real constituents (corporate executives and the ultra-rich) don't make-up anywhere near the 50%+1 vote they need, so they just play the other 2 groups for the votes needed to win elections. Once elected, the GOP figures the religious and bigoted can eat cake. The elected are too busy working for the corporate executives and ultra-rich to give the other voters anything.

Posted by: Berto at June 25, 2009 7:05 PM

Christ, Rove didn't exactly say that. He also didn't ACTUALLY get into a bus and run him over. Sanford is a Bible thumper (Promise Keeper, etc.) and definitely touts his religiousness as some sort of badge.

It is also lovely to see all the "You can't even say Bush" crowd play the Clinton card here.

Posted by: jim at June 25, 2009 7:18 PM

The reason Clinton is relevant here is because your side staked out such an extreme and unreasonable position on the issue of the relevance of affairs back then (which itself involved a complete 180 from the extreme and unreasonable position Democrats had taken on sexual harrassment during the Clarence Thomas business) and has now done a complete 180 on the topic, at least until we get back to talking about, say, Jon Corzine.

I'm still exactly where I have always been on these things.

Posted by: Crank at June 25, 2009 7:27 PM

Go back and read nearly any thread over the past 6 months and if the name Bush is mentioned there is nearly always one or more comments on how it is completely out of bounds to bring Bush up as he is gone. It happens all the time here. I guess it's your blog so you canhave it both ways should you choose but your little band of echo-chamberites should be careful on the ground which they tread.

I would argue you miss the point again. It is not the affair that is the issue. We don't really care about the sex aspect of this guy's life. It is the complete reversal of his public positions that is the point. When you go all "family values", anti-gay, religion is the way, Promise Keepers ad nauseum when you get caught scuffling around it points to the inanity, deplicitousness and shallow Jesus-mongering that the GOP has gotten into. People were willing to give Clinton a pass because a) he hadn't been a Bible thumping maniac as a politician, b) normal people have had affairs, lied about, been caught and looked likes asses doing it all and c) the GOP so ridiculously overplayed their hand that people got nauseous of their actions. BTW, Sanford was one of those leading the charge against Clinton. Folks don't like so much being told by your pack of weirdos that their way of life is better than whatever way of life they have chosen. You get scorn piled upon you when you are part of the pack of morality pitchers that ends up being a regular old jackass.

Posted by: jim at June 25, 2009 7:55 PM

All that really matters to me is that Sanford had a chance to be a factor in the GOP field for 2012, and now he doesn't. I don't know if he could have survived an affair under other circumstances, but he certainly can't survive handling this in a way which compromised his job performance as it did.

Politicians of both parties are prone to affairs, of course - they succeed because of their powers of persuasion, and it's not at all surprising they use those powers in their free time, as well. But if they are going to survive indescretions, they have to give their party a reason to close ranks behind them. Clinton was able to do that because he deflected any serious charges until he was already President, and too important to cast aside. Others, like Giuliani, managed to get their messy breakups and hookups out of the way before seeking higher office (and New Yorkers really didn't care about his personal life). Sanford, like Gary Hart and John Edwards, for whatever reason, could not control his behaviour when it was really important to his career, which is a good reason he ought to be finished.

Posted by: Jerry at June 25, 2009 9:42 PM

"Where is conservatism proven be an "abject failure?""
Earth.

Posted by: Berto at June 25, 2009 10:17 PM

How exciting. A call for sources of unsubstantiated claims is met with more unsubstantiated claims. Obviously, this isn't a good place to come for liberal commentary, but if the more liberal commenters here want to convince people, at some point there has to be backup for your claims. Anyway, carry on with your trolling, and I'll carry on with my opinions unchanged.

Posted by: DKH at June 25, 2009 10:48 PM

I'm enjoying Sanford's comeuppance solely due to his prior piousness on the failing of others. If he hadn't been such a scold every time someone else had an affair I might actually feel bad for the guy—clearly he's struggling with some serious emotional shit.

But, sorry. Assholes who try to force their morals and beliefs on everyone else by force of law—and Sanford's a member of the club—get exactly zero slack with me.

Screw him for being a disrespectful, shitheel of a husband And dude, you gotta pull this shit on freaking Father's Day? A serious dick of a father as well.

But that shouldn't cost him his job.

Clearly being incapable of managing a crisis of his own making calls his skills as an executive into question and his utter disregard for his sworn obligations to the state of South Carolina and complete dereliction of duty is pretty good reason for him to be out on his ass.

If he had simply properly handed over authority before he left instead of going AWOL or took a leave but remained reachable in an emergency, I'd've stopped a couple paragraphs ago.

--

And for the record, at my blog I ripped Spitzer a new one and called for ouster, so don't lay that hypocrisy shit on me.

Posted by: Mr Furious at June 26, 2009 1:15 AM

It's nice to see dkh of the "Medicare has a 26 trillion dollar deficit and rising" factoid want sources for all these claims. Which claims? The Appalachian Trail nonsense? The Argentinian Tail facts? That the GOP is prone to claiming God and/or Jesus as one of their own? That both Ensign and Sanford used their religion in a public manner? What?

Posted by: jim at June 26, 2009 11:46 AM

Sorry, what factoid? I've never claimed anything about Medicare deficits, as far as I can recall, on this blog or any other.

I listed some of the things that would need credible sources above. Generally, quotes and supporting facts should be cited.

Posted by: DKH at June 26, 2009 1:37 PM

Hmm,

Just noticed it is dch not dkh. Not the same? My bad.

I said earlier that Rove did not say, "Mark who? Never heard of him." See that's tongue and cheek. Man the slightest attempt at levity passes you righties by. Rove did come out and basically say that Sanford was a nobody and was never really in any sort of GOP national plan. That's being thrown under the bus. Do I really need to site the interview for heaven's sake?

Posted by: jim at June 26, 2009 1:57 PM

What the lefties here are saying by complaining about "hypocrisy" is, when you come down to it, that public officials should be in favor of marital infidelity, and if they are they get a pass for doing it.

That's not a world I want to live in.

Socially conservative politicians stand up for good things, and the world would be a far, far better place if everyone lived by those principles. Human nature being what it is, we'll never reach that point, but that's no reason to prefer people who refuse to advocate for what is right.

And as I have noted before, and in this post, the Left is constantly advocating on moralistic grounds for more governmental control of all sorts of things, including things liberal politicians refuse to abide by (Tom Daschle thought we all had an obligation to pay higher taxes, but not him; Al Gore wants us reducing our carbon footprints while he flies private jets and burns electricity in his mansion like it's going out of style).

Furious - Are you opposing the re-election of Corzine & Paterson? Corzine didn't just cheat on his wife, he did so with someone the state does business with.

Posted by: Crank at June 26, 2009 2:47 PM

Furious - Are you opposing the re-election of Corzine & Paterson? Corzine didn't just cheat on his wife, he did so with someone the state does business with.

Crank - In cases of more-or-less "normal" adultery, I don't think it's anybody else's business, and if it doesn't impact their job, I'm happy to leave it up to the voters...so, yeah, go ahead and run for reelection. If they think you're doing a bang-up job as Gov or Senator, etc and can look past private matters, you might get re-elected.

I'm no longer in the tri-state area, so I'm not familiar with the details of Corzine or Paterson. IIRC Paterson, was a pretty normal thing, and that's between him and his wife. Corzine, on the other hand sounds like it might be more complicated—but (no offense) I want to hear more about it from a less-biased source than you...

I thought Spitzer should go because he broke the law. Period. On a personal level, his hypocrisy was orders of magnitude worse than Sanford as a former prosecutor who used some of the very same statutes he violated to ruin countless lives of others.

Guiliani? I think he's an asshole and a cad, and treated his wife like shit, but unless there was some wrongdoing regarding his affair with Judith Nathan, he could've run again if he wasn't limited out. Up to the voters.

Sanford basically abandoned his job. If you or I did that, we'd be fired. Should be the same for him.

Posted by: Mr Furious at June 26, 2009 3:55 PM

Yeah, Crank, that's it good analysis. If you submitted that in an 8th grade English class you would get an F for either intellectual dishonesty or plain old stupidity. You choose. You're not stupid so that leaves one choice.

Posted by: jim at June 26, 2009 5:38 PM

A few things from someone who doesn't care a whit about Sanford:
1. Adultery is illegal in SC? Did a million or so people just start sweating?

2. Quit this bullshit about Democrats having no morals. I got a few pearls of wisdom for all of you: Repealing Roe V. Wade will not prevent a single abortion. Prohibition didn't reduce drinking. Rockefeller (sp?) drug laws have not stopped drug use. All that crap is just about making you feel better about things. Clinton was an idiot for his affair. Everyone else since then, knowing they had to get caught eventually, is a bigger idiot. Of course the Bible-thumpers do it, too. They're politicians. They lie. They create public images that may or may not represent the truth. If the guy (or gal) is good at governing, who cares.
3. The DNC probably does throw a whole load of crap against the wall, just to see what sticks. The Appalachian Trail line is ridiculous. It won't stick. Getting your panties in a bunch over it makes you look like a spoiled little girl.
4. The Dems are way too timid to ever grab control of anyone's life. Don't ever worry about the party of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. Those two dipshits couldn't get a class of kindergarteners to the lunchroom on time.

Apologies for the foul language. I just finished teaching for the year and have a lot of pent up profanity. Plus, I am a morally bankrupt registered Democrat.

Posted by: Zufall at June 27, 2009 9:30 PM
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