What a shockingly busy day it was yesterday for news. Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett both die. I’m not good at talking about the “breaking news” first because I am not that quick on the button. Face it, you’re not here to get the latest news. I need time to synthesize things a bit, and then perhaps some angle pops up that I think is worthy of comment. So I’m not talking about either of those people today.
Rather, I’ve had some time to think about the fortunes of S. Carolina’s Governor, Mark Sanford and I have some thoughts. This was in some ways prompted by a post by Eileen over at Episcopalifem who voiced sympathy for Gov. Sanford’s situation, basically on a theory of “who hasn’t pontificated on some subject only to fall victim to it themselves.” I can relate, but in the end I come down differently on the issue.
Let me state categorically, that I don’t have a bad thing to say about Sanford vis-a-vis his “affair.” Far be it from me to judge him in any way. It takes no genius to know the divorce statistics in this country, and any of us not lucky enough to marry our high school sweetheart, can testify to numerous relationships that failed for one reason or another. We as humans are plainly not good at picking the “right persons” or maintaining our relationships well at all.
I find it best usually, to not comment on the inner workings of anyone else’s private life when I feel pretty busy addressing my own. So, I repeat, I make no judgment about Mr. Sanford at all on the subject of his personal life per se. But you of course notice that caveat.
I am also forgiving of the fact that Governor Sanford, apparently during his faithful period, was excoriating in his disdain of then President Clinton and his troubles regarding his own marital indiscretions. As Eileen said, we have all been hypocrites at one time or another, usually more than once. I’m willing to cut the guy slack, even assuming that when he said the things he did, (namely that Clinton should resign because he had violated the public trust), he truly meant them.
I’m willing to assume he was speaking honestly out of his God-induced rectitude of the the “family values” genre. Unlike the likes of Newt Gingrich, who in the style only Newt can affect, puffed himself up with righteous indignation and spewed at what an awful God-less vile person Clinton was, all the time engaging in the exact same behaviors himself, at the very time he was so spewing. His rant was for political reasons, and he only used morality as a tool.
But I do claim that Mark Sanford should resign. He is unfit in my mind to be in the business of public care. Why you say? Well, for starters if you claim another should resign because of marital oopses, then I guess you should too, when you oops. Tit for tat, an eye for an eye, all that rot. But really, I am prepared to concede that the dude has seen the light, and perhaps that shouldn’t be the main reason.
The main reason is that the guy has shown me that he has no ability to empathize with others. And that is a characteristic that makes him unfit in my book to represent the people. Whether you favor the Hamiltonian type representation where one elects a person whose character you respect and trust them to make the right decisions, or whether you follow Jefferson’s approach and elect people who are expected to discern the public position, and vote accordingly, I think Sanford fails the test.
Sanford seems to be the sort who cannot stand in my shoes and even approach trying to see the world through my eyes. Apparently he can see it only through his own, and if I don’t share his vision in every respect, then my causes are lost to him, no matter how reasonable or important they might be. I’m told, though I haven’t verified this, that Sanford has been overruled by his legislature some four times recently, suggesting it seems, that he may be a tad out of touch with the rest of his state. I’m told he’s not well liked by the electorate these days.
I think we have to ask for his resignation simply because we have to send a message, that the wealthy and well placed cannot live in their world and ignore the rest of us, because they are unable to even begin to understand our lives. If they cannot do this, having never been there themselves, like say a John Edwards, nor had it ingrained since childhood like the Kennedys, then well, they have no business in the public arena making decisions about my life.
This whole thing is merely exacerbated by the fact that Governor Sanford apparently went to great lengths to mislead the public on all this. Leaving one’s car at an airport, filled with hiking gear, traveling to another airport and flying off, and returning, hoping I guess to show up, no one knowing the better, suggests he’s just a tad too sneaky for my taste. Issues of public monies also seem to be swirling around, and promises to reimburse the state fall rather on unhearing ears at this point.
What this continues to say about the GOP, one can only speculate. One seems to be witnessing a debacle the full nature of which will take decades to understand. The sheer scope of the self-inflicted damage is nearly incomprehensible. This is not implosion, but suicide by ten thousand cuts.