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.