June 25, 2009

Why Mark Sanford matters

Leighton made the point in the comments that the GOP wants to make this about sex, rather than the real issue of how he abandoned his job and his state. And I think that cannot be ignored. He didn't tell his staff where he was. He didn't tell his LT Governor where he was. He might not be the head of the free world (though he clearly wanted to be before this), but he has obligations as the head of SC, and sometimes those executives have to make decisions immediately in the event of a natural disaster or some similar issue.

And that actually leads me to this point about "family values" and the faux Christianity that has permeated the Republican party. (Sanford's fellow SC Republican colleague Bob Inglis thinks this is an opportunity to ‘Lose Stinking Rot of Self-Righteousness’ ). And I think that would be a great step. But Leighton's comment brought to mind the real problem I see with the current GOP. Their governing principle is that "government is evil." What positive policies can you provide with that principle? Very few, I would suggest, and that has encouraged the GOP to make themselves popular with the Bible Belt.

But Sanford is a great example of that. Yes, he is a hypocrite about "values," but he is very representative of the destructive approach to government. He preferred to take no stimulus money even when he has schools in disrepair. And, as Leighton pointed out, he put his personal life above his responsibilities as Governor.

If the GOP wants my respect (not my vote, mind you, but at least my grudging respect) they have to articulate policy goals that are not inherently destructive. And they have to stop this mindless appeal to family values. Of course, Christian conservatives created this mess too, by making their personal faith another political card to be bought and sold and spun.

Unfortunately, as we saw last fall with the response to Palin, and the increasing radicalism and dilution of the GOP, I don't see any of that happening anytime soon. Neither the Christian right nor the GOP seem ready to learn that lesson.


Streak said...

I think Tomasky agrees with Leighton.

Monk-in-Training said...

Wasn't he only recently proclaiming the sanctity of marriage and saying it should not be extened to gays?

leighton said...

It's funny how some of the commenters on Tomasky's post are arguing that it's not a big deal that he vacated his office for nearly a week, because he was so good at picking staff that they kept things running, and besides, what would a governor really do in an emergency?

Never mind that these same people would fire a janitor who missed six days of work and didn't answer his phone. It's all okay if you're rich and a Republican.*

If he had told his staff, his LG and his family that he was taking a soul-searching journey and would be available by cell and email in case of emergencies, this should have been a complete non-story, and I would be as critical of the media frenzy over his affair as I am over the kerfuffle with Clinton and the cigar.

* But I repeat myself. I think for a lot of people, their political affiliation isn't about what policies they advocate, so much as a statement about either which social class they belong to, or which they aspire to and sympathize with. One of the reasons my boss quit criminal defense work was that he got tired of strongarming business executives past the "They can't do this to me, I'm a Republican!" phase of not telling their lawyer what he needed to know to defend them.

steves said...

I haven't seen much support for extending forgiveness to Sanford from many on the right. Most seem to be saying that he should resign and get his life in order. Now that the news has 24/7 coverage of Michael Jackson, I don't hear anything else.

Personally, I think he should resign, though mostly for leaving his job. I could be wrong, but I though his problem with the stimulus money was that it had too many strings attached and that it would end up costing SC more in the long run?

Monk-in-Training said...

Have you heard about the naked former Republican mayor and Baptist deacon arrested in Gainsville, Georgia?

Mark Musselwhite, 43 told police he wasn't the naked man they were looking for, while holding a beer in his hand.

These family values, Republicans just crack me up.