The Sequel That Shouldn’t Have Been Greenlit

marksanfordWhen Governor Mark Sanford abandoned his job to win back his lover and destroy his family, I can’t say that I approved of that.

However, once the damage had been done and the smoke had cleared, I was actually sort of happy him that he went on to marry the mistress and found happiness (I’d assume) with the love of his life.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but my happiness for him (to the extent that I cared about him) was entirely contingent on his never seeking public office again. It hadn’t occurred to me that he would even try. I mean, this is not only cheated on his wife and sabotaged his family, but he abandoned his post to make that happen. That makes him relatively unique among philandering politicians. You do that, and you’re done in public life as far as I’m concerned. No second acts. That’s the price you pay, which, considering the gravity of the transgression, is a relatively minor one.

So yeah, I’m a bit bothered that he’s now Congressman-elect Mark Sanford. That’s like Jim McGreevey becoming an Episcopal minister. Or a congressman. (Okay, McGreevey professional transgression, but whatever.) Except that apparently, the New York Episcopal Church has higher standards and rejected McGreevey for being “a jackass.” The South Carolina Republicans in CD1, and indeed CD1 as a whole, apparently, is not so strict.

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.


  1. + a jillion

    I cannot fathom how anyone could vote for a man who used public funds to abandon his office for the sake of cheating on his wife!!!!

    The personal transgressions are one thing. I generally think that kind of thing is between the candidate and spouse. It lowers my esteem for the candidate, but isn’t a total dealbreaker.

    But the man absconded! For almost a week his whereabouts were unknown to people who were running his state! And he paid for at least one trip to South America with the state’s money!!!!

    How does anyone trust him with a public office again? I find this utterly inconceivable.

    • What I’m baffled by is how this clown managed to get his party’s nomination. What was the SC GOP thinking?!? I mean the district was gerrymandered and a heavily republican region so they could have run just about anyone and had excellent odds of winning so how in the hell did Sanford get in??

    • It’s sorta the same reason that I cannot fathom why anyone listens to Sarah Palin.

      She _had_ a perfectly functional platform to be an elected Republican on. She was in a charge of a very Republican state, almost a _Libertarian_ state.

      She decided it would be more fun to wander the country giving speeches.

      Granted, at least she bothered to quit, but still. You cannot stand there and assert you know how to operate politics when you just…_give up_ your political position and your power. Not for something better, it’s not like she quit to run for vice-president, which would have been reasonable for her to do even if not required under Alaskan law. No, she just…quit.

      It almost seems like she doesn’t understand that politics isn’t a _goal_. Politics is how we decide who _governs_. The goal is to end up _governing_. Her end goal, OTOH, is obviously to wander around grifting money off people. (And while that describes a lot of people in the Republican party *cough*Newt Gingrich*cough* those people _cloak_ that goal much better than her.)

      As someone on the left, I’ve always thought Sarah Palin was rather stupid (1), so I suspect I’m a poor judge here, but I really find it rather baffling that she’s still a draw. It seems like people in the crowd should shout ‘How did that policy work out when you proposed it for Alaska…oh, right, you just decided that actually trying to do things was too much work!’

      1 ) And I’m someone who _doesn’t_ think Bush was stupid. A politician has to behave really really _really_ stupid in front of me for me to decide it’s not an act. Fake stupid is picking the NRA’s newsletter as a newspaper you read and throwing in a slam at the media…real stupid is not knowing the name of _any_ newspaper.

      • Yeah, her resignation was absolutely the last straw for me in terms of taking her seriously.

        I don’t think she was stupid. I think that she had a completely unremarkable and average intelligence. Which just doesn’t cut it at that level, because virtually everybody else at that level has above-average intelligence.

        • I think that she had a completely unremarkable and average intelligence. Which just doesn’t cut it at that level, because virtually everybody else at that level has above-average intelligence.

          I actually have a theory that she’s playing dumber than she is, to some extent, like many Republicans do. I think she’s altering her speech patterns to be more ‘folksy’ on purpose, for example. I know she deliberately drops endings of words, because I’ve heard her do otherwise. (What the hell is that accent, anyway? It sounds like someone with a Minnesota accent trying to do a piss-poor Southern accent. That can’t really be an Alaskan accent.)

          My theory is that she’s just starting from below average, so her dumb is actually _way too dumb_, and actually kind of hilarious.

          I mean she, much like Bush, was not very curious about the world…but Bush could actually _remember_ what people told him. (Often these people were horrible liars *cough*Cheney*cough* though, so maybe that’s not a good thing.)

          Palin, OTOH, has to write basic concepts on her damn hands, which is stupid because a) those were talking points any Republican should already know, b) incredibly simple stuff that a normal person could memorize entirely in an hour, and c) Really? Your hand? Couldn’t come up with an mnemonic devices. (Do you even know what a mnemonic device is?) Or hide a piece of paper in your sleeve, which at least reduces the chance of getting caught.

          Granted, it might be possible I’m overestimating ‘average’, I was often in gifted classes in school so perhaps don’t know the ‘norm’, but, seriously, she couldn’t even pull off basic ‘when cheating on a test, don’t wave your cheat-sheet hand in front of the teacher’, which is, like, middle-school stuff.

  2. How bad of a candidate was Colbert’s sister? Did she run commercials where she talked about protecting our children from God, guns, and big gulps?

    • Well, I think she lost by 11 points in a R+18 district.

      So, I dunno, average?

      It’s all Team-D and Team-R, so does it really matter — you’ve got to get Alan Keyes crazy before your side abandons you.

      Sanford merely had an affair and acted a bit of a fool. As far as “Congressmen we wish didn’t exist” he’s practically high-brow.

      • Sanford merely had an affair and acted a bit of a fool.

        And, by some accounts, repeatedly trespassed in his x-wife’s house while she wasn’t there, and didn’t seem to understand why that wasn’t ok. From what I’ve read and from listening to his victory talk, the man sounds like clinically narcissistic to me, a guy who is capable only of thinking about himself, and wholly incapable of caring about whether he hurts others. Not your average politician, but someone to stay far far away from.

        [Disclaimer: I am not a psychiatrist.]

        • I’m sure his ex-wife worked very hard for that house of hers…

          Also, he was there with their son.

          • He violated a restraining order. He had no legal right to be there. Doesn’t matter that he was there with their son. And reports are that he has repeatedly done this.

            The guy also asked his ex-wife, the one he humiliated with his affair, to be his campaign manager.

            This is classically narcissistic behavior. Everything is about him, rules don’t apply to him, people are supposed to want to help him no matter how badly he’s treated them.

          • Maybe you’ve not deal with one of these people. It’s not just a personality quirk, bu a pathology. These folks destroy other people’s lives. It’s a pretty big deal to those they harm. I don’t know if you’re unaware of this or don’t care about he harm done. I hope it’s the former.

          • I’m getting a distinct MRA feeling from ole’ Mikey here.

          • You know, what he does to his family, however distasteful as it is, is in the end a private matter. Man’s a sociopath and he’s not finished with hurting his ex-wife or his children with his narcissism, but that’s not a public policy issue.

            When said person is elected to national office, however low in seniority or influence, then yes, it becomes something of a problem.

    • She came out for a balanced budget amendment, said there was problems with Obamacare, etc., how she was a business owner, etc. Standard boiler plate Blue Dog stuff. As Morat says, it’s an R+11 district. A D+11 district for example, is represented by Henry Waxman.

  3. I hear all the time about “devil you know” or “lesser of the two evils”, etc. Not sure why anyone’s surprised at this anymore.

    That’s Democracy! The people have spoken.

  4. I’m not really surprised. SC-1 is still one of the most conservative Congressional districts in the United States and in the end they held their noses and decided they just could not elect a Democratic candidate.

    This is the sort of stuff that happens in politics all the time. Some districts or ridings are just highly-partisan. Maybe most are. And we can bemoan it but we like to surround ourselves with our ideological companions. Sometimes this is purposeful and other times accidental (some people move to San Francisco or NYC because of the social liberalism, others move for different reasons and are just likely to be socially liberal for those reasons).

    • Yes, some places are partisan. But they still wouldn’t elect Sali up in Idaho.
      Some places are willing to give people da boot, and others aren’t.

      • Sali reaches the Keyes/O’Donnell/Angle levels of crazy as Morat notes above.

        What is the old saw in politics? “Don’t be caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy”?

        The live boy thing is largely going the way of the Dodo. All we have hear is an affair with an adult woman and getting punished for that or surviving it as a scandal is a random act of chaos.

  5. Morat, Damon, ND… the thing is, this didn’t just happen by a Republican and a Democrat facing off. That’s merely the conclusion to what was a completely open seat. Republicans could have nominated somebody else. He had name recognition, but not the power of incumbency.

    They didn’t just choose the lesser of two evils (by partisan priorities, I mean). They chose evil. Intentionally.

    • I will agree that the primary thing was off and that the only reason the Democratic Party felt like they could pick up the seat was because of the primary.

      I read a few articles with people saying they held their nose to vote for Sanford.

      Though evil is going to a bit too far. I disagree with him but hiking the Applachian trail is more like grossly buffonish. If he was convicted of blackmail or fraud or taking bribes and managed to win the primary and get elected we can use the e-word.

      • He was NOT in town. He was NOT in country. Haven’t you heard of an emergency?

        NOBODY knew where he was!

        If there was an actual emergency — the sort where the guvnor requests the President give some aid? he wasn’t there to do it! And basically unreachable.

        • Nope still not evil. I don’t like the guy but here we are talking about gross incompetence, negligence, and being a selfish prick and moron but not evil.

          Evil is a word that should be used in very specific contexts. Not against what we merely dislike.

          • Okay. Koch is evil, this guy is not.
            Does your opinion change if this guy was blackmailed?
            If he was deliberately casting votes to not be found out?
            (as to Koch blackmailing him… not going there).

        • Umm, Andre Bauer isn’t a Potted Plant either. He could have made the call.

      • I agree that he’s not evil-evil. I meant that in the context of the “lesser of two evils” phrase.

        • The problem with “lesser of two evils” is that the phrase is the epitome of subjectivity and partisan politics will always declare the candidate of your side/party affiliation to be the “lesser of two evils”.

          • “Lesser of two evils” is more of a rationale than declarative statement. It’s just another way of saying “Well, I don’t like the guy that I voted for, I just dislike him less than the other guy.”

          • Umm… bullshit. I’ve cast votes for Republicans on the “lesser of two evils”.

    • Honestly, I think a lot of it was just motivated by: “Hey this’ll piss those lefties off!” (Lefties being everyone to the left of a graduate from Oral Roberts University)

  6. You have to admit that Sanford and his new wife make a cute couple.

  7. South Carolina is a weird place. The Republican Party there is deeply fissured on lines that seem to outsiders to have little to do with ideology or even personalities so much as the ghosts of personalities who clashed years ago, and the factions who followed them, and the umbrages that members of those factions still harbor to one another despite the fact that their patrons long ago either reconciled or walked away from the dispute.

    It’s a bit like the Internet that way.

    Only these aren’t people calling each other names as they sit comfortably in their jammies bathed in LCD light from their laptops; many of them hold actual political power.

    • Interestingly I worked as an election supervisor at a left-wing radio station that had the same issues in terms of factional splits and clashes. It creates a lot of bad blood.

    • Yeah, but it’s only been weird since 1822 or so (the year it invoked Nullification to ignore a federal court ruling that it couldn’t jail foreign sailors for the crime of being black.)

    • That column added new depths to my distaste of Krugman.

      • I dunno, it’s deeply cynical and screwed up, but then so is Congress.

      • I think for Congress there is a certain honesty about party affliation mattering above all.

        A not-great Democratic candidate is still much more likely to vote for my policy preferences than an honest or independent Republican because most Congressioncritters vote the party line more often than not. This includes the alleged mavericks.*

        *I wish to retire this term from our discourse. One or two voting idiosyncracities does not make someone a maverick or independent.

        • There’s some truth to that, but here is why even my most Republican self (which, granted, was still a lot less Republican than most Republicans are, but still) would have voted against Sanford.

          It’s a Republican district. Democrats who win in Republican districts don’t stay reps very long. Minnick lost after two years. Lampson lost after two years. On the other side, Joseph Cao lost after two years. On the other hand, absent a two-year stint by the other party, Bill Sali, Tom Delay, and William Jefferson stand a decent chance of being congressmen for life. Sali had to lose for western Idaho to get Labrador, and Jefferson had to lose for them to get congressman Richmond. (Delay actually resigned, but could have ridden out the storm.

          Every now and again you can displace an entrenched incumbent in a primary. This happened to Cynthia McKinney a couple of times, and Earl Hilliard, for example. But it’s rare. Not even nudging from Barack Obama could get rid of Charlie Rangel.

          Sometimes, even if you’re a partisan, it’s worth losing a seat for a couple years to unseat someone who is an embarrassment to your party. [ed note: This comment was originally posted under the wrong name]

      • I really don’t know how this is a distasteful thing.

        Krugman is right as a matter of political reality in the current party atmosphere of the Republicans acting like a parliamentary party, at least with regard to vote discipline within Congress.

        • He’s neither standing athwart history yelling stop nor taking on the philosophic task of changing the world. His argument is devoid of either wisdom or courage.

          • More seriously, it’s rather ridiculous coming from Paul “the President should use his Green Lantern Ring to will better economic policy forward” Krugman of all people.

          • I stopped expecting frozen pizzas to taste good a long time ago. Doesn’t mean they’re not still distasteful.

          • I’ve long maintained that Krugman doesn’t actually understand how government works, in large part because he refuses to apply his own analytical tools to it. So he holds the naive view that when markets go wrong, government fixes them, and if government doesn’t fix them, it’s because government’s not working “right,” that it’s gone astray from what is not only it’s right and proper course, but it’s normal course. I think he sincerely believes that electing Democrats will put the government back on it’s “normal” right and proper course where it nearly flawlessly fixes the errors of the market without doing anything that causes serious distortions. The man needs a serious dose of public choice theory, but I think he rejects it because he understands it wouldn’t rest well with his political ideology.

          • He seems to like ascribing any failures from Democratic politicians to push his favored agenda to some sort of lack of moral fiber or failure of will.

          • Krugman’s “changing the world” happens more in his research, and less in the New York Times…

          • Kimsie,

            No, he’s reworking old ideas that have frequently been applied. That’s not to denigrate his ability as an economist, mind you, but there’s nothing in his macroeconomic approach that could change the world.

          • Nob,

            Yes, and that’s a general pet peeve of mine. “Failure of will” is a cheap complaint, because it doesn’t analyze the real structure of the problem, and doesn’t identify concrete steps forward; doesn’t bother itself with the difficult task of considering real means and methods.

            Christopher Coyne, in his new book Doing Bad by Doing Good: Why Humanitarian Action Fails , has a nice succinct critique of the “will” argument. Unfortunately the book is in my office and I’m at home, but I mention it to recommend the book to you, given your interest.

          • I’m not familiar with Coyne’s specific work, but I’ve done my time in reading up on arguments regarding humanitarian intervention, unintended consequences up to and including that the possibility of intervention can even encourage people to fight oppressive regimes in the hope of intervention and thus lead to horrible attrocities rather than the mere daily horrors of living under totalitarian dictatorships.

          • Yeah, it’s a pretty depressing body of literature. And it’s damned awkward to stand in a position of saying, “I know you’re just trying to help, but please don’t (at least not like that.”

          • I do think the “intervention just makes people keep fighting instead of rolling over and give up and be good little peons” is bordering a bit on sociopathic especially coming from hard power realists who want to bomb Iran, but well…

            …there’s a reason I had an alcohol problem when I was dealing more often with those questions.

      • You’ve noted before that you don’t hold with the Keynesians, I believe.
        Krugman noted that some non-Keynesians have been caught being insufferably stupid:
        “1.Robert Barro pointing to the decline in private spending during World War II as evidence that multipliers are small, somehow forgetting rationing and all that.
        2.John Cochrane and Eugene Fama confusing accounting identities with causal relationships, and reinventing the Say’s Law fallacy.
        3.Robert Lucas misunderstanding Ricardian equivalence.
        4.Robert Samuelson and Olli Rehn asserting that Keynes wouldn’t have been a Keynesian given current debt levels, without checking actual British debt in the 1930s (which was much higher than debt now).
        5.John Taylor equating Fed policy to hold down interest rates with a price ceiling on, say, apartment rents.”

        I had to wonder, reading this, if 1) Krugman’s right about these mistakes being entirely too elementary to not be worthy of derisive laughter and 2) Who are the folks you find most on target?

        • Kim,

          I’ve found it un useful to engage in discussions about macroeconomics here. Suffice it to say that Krugmam has convinced those who agree with him that these are errors, and has not generally convinced those who disagree with him–including the accused–that these are errors.

          I think Bryan Caplan says it best.

          • To Bryan’s last question (and well put), I’ll note: I don’t count any of tiers 1-3 as more than temporary allies.

            … thanks for your insight, it is appreciated.

  8. If Sanford really *was* hiking the App Trail, he wouldn’t have been able to be reached either, and in an emergency, they would have all gone to the Lt Gov.

    If your system depends on one guy being always available, *you have a bad system*

    “The cemeteries of the world are filled will indispensable men”

    • If he’d actually been hiking the Appalachian Trail, people would have known about it ahead of time and André Bauer would have at least known that he was going to need to be Acting Governor.

      I don’t know that it’s the system’s fault when its leader voluntarily disappears himself without notice. I think that’s kind of the leader’s problem.

        • Sanford owes Bauer a debt. Any talk of impeachment of Sanford ended when the everybody realized who would take over for him.

          • It is situations like this that make me think that NJ made a mistake by electing a Lt Governor. The person is selected for poor reasons and no one thinks that they will ever actually serve.

            Then Elliot Spitzer gets caught…

          • “caught” you mean.
            Quite a choice Spitzer had…

    • It’s one thing for a guy to go on a vacation or trip.

      It’s another thing to go completely AWOL and not inform anyone about it.

      Pretty sure if he had decided to go hike the appalachian trail and informed people around him about it, the system would, you know, function.

  9. I disagree with the premise of this post.

    Sarah Palin abandonded her job. Mark Sanford went on vacation with his side piece.

      • While he was a serving governor, without informing anyone in the government, possibly using government funds and during one of his kid’s birthdays….yeah.

  10. +1

    I’m writing about the problems with ideology right now, but this is a pretty good reminder of the problems with partisanship.

    “We don’t like or trust him, and he has a history of astoundingly unethical if not criminal behavior when it comes to abuse of power and misappropriation of taxpayer money – plus his opponent is pretty moderate and seems very competent. But hey, he *does* have an R in front of his name…”

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