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Sanford Wins

[ 161 ] May 7, 2013 |

In a way, I admire the rationality of the voters in SC-1 (although their political goals are wrong.)   And the thing is, I don’t think anybody really believes that being a good spouse has anything to do with being a good public official.   Do you think George W. Bush was a better president than FDR?  Would you vote for Goldwater over Lyndon Johnson?  Me neither, so I don’t think this vote is all that odd either.

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  1. Darkrose says:

    It’s not just being a good spouse, though. It’s the whole “going incommunicado and then lying about it because you’re meeting your girlfriend” thing. That would certainly make me question whether someone should be responsible for a hamster, let alone public office.

    • Gerry says:

      …during a time when he was the sole individual in the state empowered to deal with any major crisis that might arise. Leaving the country without telling anybody where he was was sociopathic under the circumstances.

      • Ann Outhouse says:

        There’s also dumb-as-a-rock vs IQ-higher-than-golf-score.

        Stupid politicians are found everywhere (e.g. DiFi) but Republican voters seem to increasingly find stupidity and ignorance to be admirable character traits.

        • RepubAnon says:

          As my golf score often breaks 200, you may want to limit that to the scores of skilled golfers.

        • bspencer says:

          The rumor in South Carolina is that Jenny Sanford was the brains of the operation.

          • Julia Grey says:

            That’s not just a rumor, that is a FACT.

            But it doesn’t matter. Republicans are not required to have brains in serving their brainless constituency (I say this as a sad new constituent of Markie Poo), and can actually find them a handicap once they are in office.

            The brains are required in running the campaigns, and Jenny did a great job for him. Luckily he found someone who put the brakes on his idiocy early on in this one, and tied Busch to the Horror that is Nancy Pelosi and the terrifying Liberal Agenda. Not to mention that 11th hour slime bomb about her being ARRESTED! in 1988! A criminal record! (She spent 24 hours in jail, as did her former husband, because they had a loud argument in front of the judge in their divorce proceedings and were hauled out on contempt charges.)

            The bomb was all over the radio in the final 2 or 3 days of the campaign. Total shit, but it was spread far and wide, and I have heard of many people changing their vote on that basis.

            And Markie looked GREAT in his later ads. So sincere. So white. So clean-cut. So male. So…gee, I don’t know, it hardly seems possible, but so….TRUSTWORTHY.

            • JustRuss says:

              Wow. So the fact that Busch was arrested 25 years ago convinced people to change their vote in favor of the guy who lied about disappearing to South America to have extramarital sex and followed that up by sneaking into his ex-wife’s house in violation of a court order? I really don’t get people.

      • Dana Houle says:

        But the thing is, being in a legislative body is really different. I mean, Sheila Jackson Lee has been in Congress for years.

    • SamR says:

      AND using public funds to fund your trip to see your mistress on another continent.

    • djw says:

      That might be a good reason to not want him in an executive position, but for congress, I don’t see how it’s relevant.

      • Darkrose says:

        What if there’s an important budget vote coming up and he’s feeling a little randy? How do I as a voter have confidence that he won’t go off and “hike the Appalachian Trail” especially since he apparently has no problem lying about it?

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          Well, if I’m a conservative living in SC-1, better someone who there is an extremely remote chance will miss a key vote than someone likely to show up and vote against my preferences.

    • Richard says:

      How is going incommicado and lying about it any different than what Clinton did- getting blowjobs from an intern and then lying about it repeatedly to his wife, on television and under oath? Did you question Clinton’s suitability for the Presidency? I don’t see the difference

      • cpinva says:

        strawman on fire! quick, call the wahmbulance! no numbnuts, Clinton didn’t run as a holier-than-thou, “family values” candidate, and he didn’t take off, to parts unknown, without telling anyone where he was going, leaving the country in the hands of no one.

        but then, you know this, and are just being stupid in public, to see how far it goes. have some pancakes.

        • Richard says:

          I don’t see how lying under oath is worse than taking off to see your mistress for a weekend and lying about it. Clinton was a good President despite the lying and the adultery. I would never vote for Sanford but it makes no sense for a conservative voter in SC to vote for Colbert because of Sanford’s adultery and lying

          • Djur says:

            It makes sense for them to not vote for Sanford, though.

            • Richard says:

              Not if they want someone to vote conservative in Congress (which I assume is what a conservative voter wants)

              • Ed says:

                Sanford never laid on the family-values stuff with a trowel,though. He was more a “fiscal conservative” type. He did betray his office and his family, but voters may well have thought he’s paid his dues for that. SC-1 skews Republican after redistricting, and the GOP voters turned out for Sanford.

                Colbert Busch seems to have suffered a bit of hubris. Obviously when the RNC gives up on your opponent that’s a very good sign, but her campaign seems to have run to not-lose rather than win, while Sanford never gave up. He deserves points for that, low blow of the mug shots notwithstanding.

      • Djur says:

        The “going incommunicado” part? I mean, Clinton took phone calls while getting a hummer.

      • wengler says:

        Clinton’s major problem was having a sexual relationship with someone that was his employee(sort of). This fails an ethical standard, and in some organizations is grounds for getting fired and leaves them open for a large sexual harassment lawsuit.

        Sanford’s problem is that he is an immense hypocrite and he was derelict in his duties as governor by vacating his job for many days.

        • rea says:

          having a sexual relationship with someone that was his employee(sort of). This fails an ethical standard, and in some organizations is grounds for getting fired and leaves them open for a large sexual harassment lawsuit.

          This is simply mythology. There is no cause of action unless the boss requires the employee to have sex with him.

          • Dilan Esper says:

            It’s inappropriate even when not illegal, because bosses show favoritism towards those they bang, and it can easily morph into a quid pro quo. Clinton acted VERY sleazy.

            The other Clinton problem was dragging the country through it for 8 months. The moment it was discovered, he needed to admit it. By not doing so, he diverted the presidency for months just as Sanford diverted his governorship for a week.

            In both cases, they needed to think of the people and not themselves.

      • Cody says:

        I missed the part when no one could find Clinton for a couple of days.

  2. Incontinentia Buttocks says:

    Isn’t there also the breaking-into-the-ex-spouses house thing?

    I totally agree that faithfulness to one’s spouse should not be an issue in evaluating public officials. But the personal remains the political. And certain kinds of behaviors within the realm of the once private are absolutely fair game in my opinion (simple infidelity, however, just happens not to be one of them). Someone who, e.g., rapes his wife should be thought of just as we’d think of any other rapist running for public office.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

      The larger point is that while the arbitrary Victorianism of post-Gary Hart politics is a bad thing, we also don’t want to return to a world in which (male) politicians’ treatment of the women in their lives is seen as politically irrelevant and worthy of being hidden from public view even when the media know full well about it.

      • Karate Bearfighter says:

        +1. Trespassing at an ex-’s house is the mark of a creepy, controlling, entitled asshole who should not be entrusted with any public responsibility.

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          creepy, controlling, entitled asshole

          So Goldwater over LBJ it is, then?

          • Malaclypse says:

            When did LBJ break and enter? Seems to me that was his successor’s thing…

            • Scott Lemieux says:

              Well, I dunno, but “creepy, controlling, entitled asshole” fits LBJ to a T, and in general his treatment of Laby Bird makes Sanford look like husband of the year.

              • cpinva says:

                “Well, I dunno, but “creepy, controlling, entitled asshole” fits LBJ to a T, and in general his treatment of Laby Bird makes Sanford look like husband of the year.”

                last I checked (and I was around when he ran for office), LBJ didn’t run as a bible thumping fundamentalist Christian. hell, I don’t really recall his religion being an issue at all. as far as his treatment of Lady Bird, he was probably as much of an asshole, as any male of his generation, in a position of power. and he never ran off, for weeks at a time, to another country, on the gov’t's dime, to join his mistress.

                so no, Sanford still tops even LBJ, in the “tortured, flaming, asshole” dept.

                • John says:

                  Hypocrisy is a distinctly second order offense. It’s better to be terrible to your wife if you don’t make any bones about it?

                • Scott Lemieux says:

                  Whether Sanford is a hypocrite, from a conservative standpoint, doesn’t matter. Ultimately, what your argument boils down to is that conservatives should require high levels of personal integrity but liberals should be able to vote on principle. Fine with me, but for obvious reasons conservatives aren’t going to buy it.

            • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

              Nor did LBJ shirk his political duties in favor of traveling to a foreign country unbeknownst to his own aides.

              I’m with you 100% that sexual infidelity is, in and of itself, politically uninteresting. But the fact that sex (or marriage) in involved in a particular behavior does not automatically render it politically irrelevant.

              One could certainly imagine a Democratic politician who is the equivalent of Roman Polanski or Jerry Sandusky, i.e. very good at his job (in this case politics) but also a monstrous criminal. I don’t think the fact that we’re talking American politics, in which the other option is often Barry Goldwater or Mitt Romney, rather than movies or football, would let us overlook the criminal behavior.

              • Scott Lemieux says:

                Nor did LBJ shirk his political duties in favor of traveling to a foreign country unbeknownst to his own aides.

                So if LBJ had been governor of Texas and left for two days because he had an affair, you’d vote for Goldwater?

                • cpinva says:

                  “So if LBJ had been governor of Texas and left for two days because he had an affair, you’d vote for Goldwater?”

                  if a frog had wings, it wouldn’t bump its ass when it hopped. it doesn’t, and it does. are you really going to play “what if?”, because it really doesn’t matter, since it didn’t happen. besides which, the “Daisy” commercial was the best political attack ad I’ve ever seen, and I saw it, the one and only time it aired during the 64 campaign.

                • Djur says:

                  If LBJ had shirked his duties and went missing for several days to bang his mistress, no, I wouldn’t vote for him for President. Doesn’t have to be sex. It would be the same if he slipped away to eat grilled cheese sandwiches or do karaoke. It’d indicate a fundamental inability to fulfill the requirements of the job.

                  I wouldn’t vote for Goldwater, either.

                • mpowell says:

                  That’s a ridiculous comparison. Huge policy differences will trump these other types of concerns. But LBJ did have major character issues and I think it’s much easier to see the good he did in retrospect. On the other hand, were JFK and his team really wrong to despise him? I don’t really think so. Unless you think people should have known that LBJ was committed to getting something like the CRA passed before ascending to the presidency, and I don’t think that was very clear at all. And after the CRA passed, his foreign policy was terrible, so people probably would have been right to vote against him in a primary if he had tried to run again!

      • Ed says:

        The larger point is that while the arbitrary Victorianism of post-Gary Hart politics is a bad thing, we also don’t want to return to a world in which (male) politicians’ treatment of the women in their lives is seen as politically irrelevant and worthy of being hidden from public view even when the media know full well about it.

        This, in full. To quote Suzannah Lessard: “In the Bible Belt, it would take no courage to say that philandering matters. In New York the danger lies in saying that it matters.”(Not sure if that wording is exact.) That was written back in 1979, when the shattered Joan Kennedy was still very much in the public eye. I still think greater openness in such matters is better than the boys-will-be-boys culture where everyone in Washington knew but the voters never had a clue and political wives were expected to put up and shut up. The voters can make up their own minds on the subject, and not always in the way you’d expect.

    • Jestak says:

      I am more troubled by Sanford’s apparently very casual attitude towards his divorce agreement–conditions he agreed to abide by–than by his infidelity. Respect for the law is a legitimate concern.

      • Richard says:

        He hasn’t been found guilty of anything. A hearing is scheduled for next week. He claims he entered the house to watch the Super Bowl with his son. Even if the court finds he violated the divorce orders, the court will slap him on the wrist and tell him not to do it again. It’s just not a big thing

    • John says:

      Going to your ex-wife’s house to watch a football game with your teenage son while she’s out of town seems fairly innocuous, if that’s what actually happened.

      • Ann Outhouse says:

        What? His own TV wasn’t working?

        And u think Jen Sanford sought and was able to get a TRO just because she didn’t want him coming over to watch football?

        Lawdy, some people are gullible.

        • Brandon says:

          Wasn’t he bringing his son back and then stuck around until another adult came around?

          • Julia Grey says:

            No. He was in the house for a couple of hours watching the game with his son and was caught sneaking out the back door using his iPhone as a light on the steps.

            And Jenny Sanford filed charges because THIS WAS NOT THE FIRST TIME Sanford had been in her house against the court order. She was fed up, so she got the TRO.

  3. oldster says:

    Yeah, you might think that a competent executive should at least inform his or her assistants of his whereabouts, and not hang them out to dry.

    But then agan, when it comes to politics, South Carolina is in every way the worst state in the union.

    • cpinva says:

      “But then agan, when it comes to politics, South Carolina is in every way the worst state in the union.”

      and by electing Sanford, they’ve proven, as if there were any actual doubt, that they are indeed the most hypocritical state in the nation.

    • Keaaukane says:

      In politics as well as most other things, the default position of “Mississippi is worse” probably holds true.

  4. efgoldman says:

    Sanford’s sleaziness is the only reason it was even close. What was that district, something like Mittster +18? Any “normal” TeaHadi Republican would have been as good as elected the day after the primary.
    What that says about the SC electorate is something else altogether.

    • Pee Cee says:

      What that says about the SC electorate is something else altogether.

      If you nominated a dog turd as the Republican candidate for office in South Carolina, and Jesus Christ himself came down from Heaven and ran as a Democrat, it would be a close race. Jesus would lose by about four points.

  5. Joe says:

    Being a bad husband is not the only thing involved here as noted suggested. But, if even Scott is not going to mention that, I guess yeah, it wouldn’t affect strongly Republican leaning voters.

  6. Steve S. says:

    Uh, “being a good spouse” had nothing to do with it. He skipped out on his job with a bullshit excuse that would have gotten any normal human being fired immediately.

    • John says:

      Being an elected official is a very different kind of job from “normal” jobs, though. And he no longer has that job, anyway.

      • STH says:

        So actually showing up for the job you’re being paid to do doesn’t matter for members of Congress? Being a Rep isn’t THAT different from other jobs.

  7. gcwall says:

    It isn’t the rationality of SC voters that stands out; it’s intransigence and recalcitrance that define SC voters. While a person’s sex life isn’t a serious consideration for voters, adultery exposes comfort with dishonesty.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      So Goldwater over LBJ it is then?

      • Djur says:

        How are you posting from the alternate universe where voting is mandatory in the US?

        • John says:

          So not voting in 1964 it is, then?

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          How are you posting from the alternate universe where voting is mandatory in the US?

          Ah, so you just believe that liberals should have thrown the election to Goldwater by abstaining. Again, we’re going to have to agree to disagree. Me, I think getting the Voting Rights Act and Medicare passed is rather more important than sending a message about who’s a better spouse.

      • Anonymous says:

        We’re trolling our own blog, now, are we?

      • Chatham says:

        So you think a single member of the house would have had a noticeable impact on the legislation being passed over the next 1.5 years? That makes even extreme Green Lanternism seem reasonable in comparison.

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          Obviously, I don’t. But that’s no reason to vote for someone you disagree with and nobody really believes otherwise.

          • Chatham says:

            But it does make the comparison to LBJ/Goldwater particularly silly. If a large segment of the GOP was sick of Sanford, decided to stay home, and he ended up losing, it wouldn’t have a noticeable negative impact on the larger conservative agenda. The same can’t be said about 1964.

          • Scott Lemieux says:

            Fine, but if you’re going to bother to vote at all you should vote for the candidate closer to your values.

            And, again, I don’t think you believe the argument you’re making here. You’d be OK with running a conservative Democrat in a very liberal district because, hey, one House vote probably won’t matter anyway?

            • Data Tutashkhia says:

              Fine, but if you’re going to bother to vote at all you should vote for the candidate closer to your values.

              Having to vote for a candidate, megalomaniacal SOB with ‘values’, sounds like a good reason not to vote at all, which is what I recommend to everybody.

              A smart man warned you: don’t vote: it only encourages them. And he wasn’t joking.

    • Erik Loomis says:

      Doesn’t everything about being a politician expose comfort with dishonesty

      • tonycpsu says:

        So voter should just give philandering politicians a pass because they happen to be lying about their affairs instead of lying about something directly relevant to their job?

        The Clenis Crusades were obviously an extreme example of making much more of a politician’s sexual indiscretions than the circumstances called for, but I don’t think it’s out of bounds to suggest that a politician’s dishonesty in their personal life might bleed over into their duties as a public servant. It was “Censure and Move On” because Clinton did something worthy of censure, and it seems to me what Mark Sanford did was worthy of principled conservatives (both of them) sitting this election out or voting for the Conservadem.

        • Erik Loomis says:

          Not necessarily. But nearly every politician is an egotistic congenital liar. Most of them are people I probably don’t want anywhere near my life. So color me not surprised when they turn about to be awful people.

          • tonycpsu says:

            Sure, but you at least acknowledge that instances of flat-out lying that become public should be taken into consideration when evaluating candidates, something Scott seems to be saying is completely irrational. (He’s also airbrushing the lying out of it by talking about it as how Sanford treated his wife, as if lying directly to the residents of his state means nothing.)

            • Erik Loomis says:

              Turn the tables and I’d absolutely vote for the Democrat. Voting is not a moral choice. It’s always the lesser of two evils and how the person votes in Washington is far more important than their personal life. Sure, there’s a limit to that and obvious Sanford more than pushed that limit. But to be a single member of Congress? No question I’d vote for the Democrat.

              • tonycpsu says:

                Oh, I’m on board with lesser evil voting, but Colbert-Busch isn’t anyone’s version of a flaming liberal, which is why Sanford debated a picture of Nancy Pelosi. In your hypothetical turn-the-tables scenario, I’d have to at least give the hypothetical Republican a look.

              • cpinva says:

                “Voting is not a moral choice. It’s always the lesser of two evils and how the person votes in Washington is far more important than their personal life.”

                you just contradicted yourself, in two consecutive sentences. if voting isn’t a “moral” choice, then voting for the “lesser of two evils” makes no sense. presumptively, the lesser evil is the more moral choice.

                we vote for people who we believe espouse roughly comparable positions, on various issues, as we do. we hold those positions, because we believe they are the morally correct ones. hence, voting, by extension, becomes a “moral” choice.

              • Jameson Quinn says:

                It’s always the lesser of two evils… but only until we have a bettor voting system such as approval voting.

            • Scott Lemieux says:

              So you’d have voted for Dole over Clinton had he lied about his affair in 1995?

              • tonycpsu says:

                Don’t be ridiculous. I said the lying is relevant, not that it outweighs all policy differences. You’re the one suggesting it’s totally irrelevant, and trying to minimize it by talking about it in terms of “being a good spouse” instead of, you know, lying directly to your constituents *and* your wife.

                • Scott Lemieux says:

                  You’re the one suggesting it’s totally irrelevant

                  Well, if you’d vote for Clinton over Dole, it effectively is irrelevant. What weight are you putting on it, exactly? For a contemporary election, the ideological divergence in 1996 was relatively narrow. If your argument is that it deserves “weight” but never enough to actually affect your vote in an election with partisan divergence, this is just a distinction without a difference.

                • tonycpsu says:

                  For a contemporary election, the ideological divergence in 1996 was relatively narrow.

                  The qualifiers you’re using (“for a contemporary election”, “relatively”) are doing a whole lot of work here. Just because a DLC Democrat and a moderate paleoconservative were closer ideologically than other Presidential opponents in recent memory doesn’t mean there’s not still a wide chasm between them on most policy issues.

                  If your argument is that it deserves “weight” but never enough to actually affect your vote in an election with partisan divergence, this is just a distinction without a difference.

                  It could certainly affect my vote in house elections, and in Presidential elections where the opponents were closer ideologically than Clinton/Dole.

                • Scott Lemieux says:

                  It could certainly affect my vote in house elections, and in Presidential elections where the opponents were closer ideologically than Clinton/Dole.

                  So it would never matter in any modern presidential election (where partisan divergence is going to be greater than Clinton/Dole) or congressional election (where any Democrat will have a more liberal voting record than any Republican), but if Woodrow Wilson ever runs against Charles Evans Hughes again we might consider personal factors. Again, it’s not clear where we actually disagree.

              • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

                Sanford’s lying involved not simply his affair, but also the conduct of his office.

                As I keep saying, I don’t disagree with you that marital infidelity is itself politically irrelevant, nor that nothing Clinton nor LBJ did in the area of sexual behavior would have justified a vote for his GOP opponent.

                But I’m uncomfortable with simply reaffirming a public/private distinction that frequently underwrites patriarchy and violence against women (the personal is the political). And while I agree with Erik that our system requires lots of voting for lesser evils, “private” behavior really can be evil (not LBJ, but Polanski), and, at a certain point, it could be evil enough to make it impossible for me to vote for someone.

                • Scott Lemieux says:

                  Well, yes, if someone actually had a record of violent felonies that might be different — all principles have exceptions, but this has nothing to do with Sandford.

                • Just a Rube says:

                  Vote for the Crook. It’s Important.

                • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

                  I also thought of the Edwards-Duke race. And, yes, whether or not a certain behavior makes someone unworthy of a vote depends on the electoral context. In general, there are all sorts of reasons one ought to have been unwilling to vote for Hindenburg. But when he faced Hitler for the German presidency, a vote for Hindenburg was justified. On the other hand, about a year later, Hindenburg made Hitler Chancellor.

                  (Too bad that Nazism made the “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted For Thälmann” bumpersticker illegal.)

              • cpinva says:

                “So you’d have voted for Dole over Clinton had he lied about his affair in 1995?”

                i’d have voted for longshanks. he didn’t need to lie, about anything. he’d just remove your head from your body, if you didn’t like it. what we call “political bloodsport” today, pales by comparison, to the good old days.

    • Spokane Moderate says:

      Bill Clinton was an adulterer. He was also honest (and, by the standards of national politicians, remarkably so) with respect to public policy.

  8. RepubAnon says:

    I checked on line, it seems South Carolina has electronic voting machines with no paper trail, and voter ID laws. Could be coincidence, I suppose.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      Yeah, it’s hard to imagine any plausible explanation for how a Republican won a 75% white congressional district in the Deep South.

      • Richard says:

        And where all the late polls had Sanford winning.

      • wengler says:

        South Carolina isn’t the deep South(Mississippi and Louisiana), it’s merely the most treasonous of states.

        • Jordan says:

          This seems to be defining “deep south” down a little too much.

          Although it IS the most treasonous of states.

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          South Carolina isn’t the deep South(Mississippi and Louisiana)

          This is just wrong. The Deep South, in virtually all definitions, also includes Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. And, most importantly for the purposes of this discussion, it’s a deep red state.

      • JoyfulA says:

        The district may be 75% white, but remember that he’s replacing Senator Tim Scott, who isn’t.

        • Julia Grey says:

          Tim Scott is not just a Republican, he is a Tea Party fanatic (or at least plays one convincingly). He knows on which side his bread is buttered.

          I wonder how long ago he and DeMint made their deal for that Senate seat?

      • Unhinged Liberal says:

        If a district is overwhelmingly black, the left expects…no…INSISTS…that it be represented by a black Democrat representative. It seems that a white person of any other party simply is not qualified to represent the interests of black constituents.

        So, now we have a district that is 75% white and Scott now seems to believe that because they elected a white republican, its somehow ugly and nefarious, although he doesn’t really say why.

        • Malaclypse says:

          If a district is overwhelmingly black, the left expects…no…INSISTS…that it be represented by a black Democrat representative.

          Citation, or even example, needed. In their expected absence, I’ll have a short stack of blueberry pancakes, with syrup.

        • sharculese says:

          If a district is overwhelmingly black, the left expects…no…INSISTS…that it be represented by a black Democrat representative. It seems that a white person of any other party simply is not qualified to represent the interests of black constituents.

          It’s fucking weird how in an electoral democracy sane people vote for candidates who’s identity and experiences they identify with, I know. You are really dumb.

          So, now we have a district that is 75% white and Scott now seems to believe that because they elected a white republican, its somehow ugly and nefarious, although he doesn’t really say why.

          This is the exact opposite of what Scott said, and maybe this was not the right thread for you to whine about how oppressed you are in.

        • jb says:

          Steve Cohen would like a word with you.

  9. Rob says:

    Doesn’t this show SC-1 voters are irrational? By electing Sanford you are stuck with Sanford and his flakiness for the next 15 -20 years. By electing Busch you are stuck with her for a year when her vote would be meaningless anyway and get a shot at a decent candidate in 2014.

    • Jameson Quinn says:

      I think a “we can primary that bridge when we come to it” attitude isn’t actually particularly irrational. Much as Sanford is a santorum-head.

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        Exactly. You don’t want Sanford, primary him next time. And what’s the downside to being stuck with Sanford as opposed to someone else who’d vote the same way anyway? He just easily won an election in which the national party spent nothing on him.

        • Pee Cee says:

          Sanford’s causing some hand-wringing among some SC Republican voters who desperately want to be seen as the God-fearing family values party (you should see what my Facebook looks like right now), but other than the image problem Sanford is exactly what those same voters wanted all along.

        • Cody says:

          Well to be fair, according to Sanford he just won an election because God.

          Which doesn’t really put a good shine on what he thinks about Democracy, as he was praying for god to get him elected – not for people to think he represents them.

  10. David Kaib says:

    Sanford is loathsome, and should be prosecuted. But Scott’s point seems unassailable to me.

  11. Jordan says:

    The OP point is right on. The implication that giving any weight at all to such considerations is irrational and amounts to preferring goldwater over johnson seems … less so.

    It isn’t clear to me how a South Carolina republican voting for someone else in a primary election who basically ties with Sanford (and, perhaps, is a little bit worse) on all other considerations is acting irrationally (and not just because of electability concerns). Going so far as to actually vote for someone whose policy preference wildly diverge from Sanford : yes, irrational. Assigning some small bit of weight: not irrational.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      Well, putting weight on it in a primary is completely different, because the LBJ/Goldwater comparison is irrelevant; when you’re effectively controlling for policy personal considerations matter. Since anyone who wins the GOP primary for SC-1 is going to cast virtually identical votes if you want to reject Sanford for adultery knock yourself out.

      • Jordan says:

        oh yeah, agree totally. I was probably reading too much into the implication. Giving some weight to personal considerations of the candidate is irrational. Assigning so much weight that it drowns out policy preferences is.

  12. pzerzan says:

    I agree that a candidate’s private life is just that-private. However, if you make other people’s lives an issue (ie abortion, gay marriage), your personal actions become an issue.

    That being said, Sanford does prove a broader point-the “family values” crowd has never been about upholding the institution of marriage. It’s been about male privilege. If a man cheats on his wife, so long as he accepts Jesus (and baptizes himself in the River of Austerity after going to the Church of the Supply-Siders), it’s all fine. However, if a woman wants to leave her abusive husband or if gay couples don’t fit into traditional gender norms, then all families are in jeopardy!

  13. Chesternuts says:

    I agree with this post. LBJ was worse than Sanford. Or his son.

  14. Johnny Sack says:

    Politics is not a moral choice, I agree. Nor is it a clean game, however. Making a big thing out of this? So fucking what? If using it against him helps keep him out of office, so be it-you better believe the other side would do the same. I see nothing wrong with Sanford’s treatment. Not like anyone wasted the Nation’s time with an impeachment like the Republicans did.

    So for that reason, I find not recognizing this to be a deep tension in your realpolitik/politics is not a moral choice argument.

    Goldwater over LBJ? No. Of course not. But switch the men, and yeah, hammer Goldwater hard on it.

    Why? Because LBJ’s our guy, and Goldwater isn’t. What’s complicated about this?

    • Richard says:

      Scott isn’t saying don’t use the infidelity against him in order to win. He’s saying that conservative voters in SC made a rational decision in ignoring the infidelity and voting for him

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        Yeah, you’re responding to an argument I’m not making. I’m not talking about what the strategy of the Democratic candidate would be. I’m talking about what I would have done as a conservative voter.

      • Davis X. Machina says:

        Why? Because LBJ’s our guy, and Goldwater isn’t. What’s complicated about this?

        The Boston Irish famously re-elected James Michael Curley mayor of Boston while he was doing his second stretch — 6-18 months in Danbury for mail fraud.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

      This, too.

  15. Davis X. Machina says:

    It’s a R+11 district. A generic, baggage-free Republican would have won by a larger margin, in all probability

    Smells like team spirit.

    • Richard says:

      He’s going to win by ten percentage points. Romney beat Obama by 18 points in the last election in the district. Believing she could overcome 18 points was overly optimistic. Conservatives, initially repulsed by Sanford, were going to come back into the fold

  16. somethingblue says:

    I gave up expecting decent legislation from either party a while back, so I’m just pleased we have two more years of entertainment to look forward to.

  17. wengler says:

    All this proves is that Republicans in South Carolina don’t have a very deep bench. It’s unlikely Sanford will be elected for any statewide office ever again, and they will be stuck with a guy whose only major national exposure was making ‘hiking the Appalachian Trail’ a euphemism for sex.

    • FlipYrWhig says:

      But if you can win an election when your candidate is Mark Frakkin’ Sanford, how much of a “bench” do you even need? It proves all you need is an R after your name and you, ahem, cruise.

  18. Suzan says:

    You don’t actually think GWB was a decent, faithful husband do you?

    Even Laura joked publicly about him and the sheep (or was it goats?)

    • Dilan Esper says:

      I don’t think ANYONE who had been married 20+ years and has a sex drive has been faithful. Or to put it another way, it is normal to be non-monogamous at some point and the people who resist that are the ones deviating from the norm.

      People assume that just because some politicians are well known for it that the others don’t do it. But remember how it turned out that Al Gore, Mr. Faithful to his college sweetheart Tipper, got extras from masseuses? Welcome to long term marriage.

      • jb says:

        I don’t think that’s really true.

        I know that anecdotes are generally unreliable, but my grandparents have been married for over fifty years, and to my knowledge, they have never been unfaithful.

        Although you have a point, given that something like a third of all spouses have had an affair.

        • Dilan Esper says:

          You would generally not know if your grandparents cheated on each other, or one cheated. You probably would not even know if they had an open marriage– people tend not to tell others that sort of thing.

          And that’s one of the reasons people think that marital monogamny is so “normal”. Because that norm is enforced, people who have extramarital sex tend not to tell their partners, and if they do tell their partners, tend not to tell anyone else. If people started being open about it, everyone would realize really quick that actual practiced long term marital monogamy is very rare among sexually active adults.

  19. bspencer says:

    Forget it, Jake. It’s Cackalackitown.

    Honestly, it’s adorable anyone thought Busch had a shot.

    • Pee Cee says:

      Honestly, it’s adorable anyone thought Busch had a shot.

      Exactly. She was not going to win the election in that district with a (D) behind her name – no matter how odious the (R) was.

      But there’s a bright side – Mark Sanford can now go back to being the face of the Republican Party. He ought to be good to club so-called “moderate” Republicans with in more winnable areas.

  20. Shakezula says:

    Yes he’s just a misogynistic, homophobic, hypocritical asshole who repeatedly ignored his ex-wife’s no trespassing order.

    I don’t understand the big deal.

    • Malaclypse says:

      Since nobody has brought it up, back in 1973, Doonesbury ran a cartoon where two congresscritters were discussing Watergate: “If only he’d knock over a bank or something,” says one. “By George, we’d have him then!” says the other.

    • sharculese says:

      But to the sort of people who vote in SC-1, most of those things are features, not bugs, which I think is Scott’s point.

      • Shakezula says:

        Unless my snarkometer needs recalibrating I disagree.

        And the thing is, I don’t think anybody really believes that being a good spouse has anything to do with being a good public official. Do you think George W. Bush was a better president than FDR? Would you vote for Goldwater over Lyndon Johnson? Me neither, so I don’t think this vote is all that odd either.

        Sanford is a hypocrite and a dick. I guarantee we will see this hypocritical dickishness in play when he speaks and votes on issues such as reproductive freedom.

        Of course, part of my problem is in my personal phrase book “Good Public Official” excludes anti-choice, homophobic, family values trolls who think the rules don’t apply to them, so perhaps that’s where the confusion is arising.

        • sharculese says:

          I was referring to the misogyny and the homophobia. I don’t have trouble believing those things play well in deep red South Carolina.

  21. Data Tutashkhia says:

    If I may be pedantic for a second: this fella is going to be a congressman. To me, that’s called ‘politician’ (two steps below the dog catcher), – not ‘public official’ (who could, albeit unlikely, actually be a decent person, and do some actual work).

  22. Brett Turner says:

    Three points.

    1. Suppose Sanford really *had* been hiking the Appalachian Trial, off the grid, no cell phone service, no way to contact him, but no Argentinian hanky-panky. Would this have disqualified Sanford ever from holding office again?

    2. Is it known for certain that there wasn’t a key aide or two who knew where Sanford really was?

    3. I wouldn’t vote for Sanford, with or without Argentinian hanky-panky and SC trespassing (if in fact that allegation is eventually proven at the hearing). But in the universe of candidates who could plausibly be elected from SC-1, isn’t Sanford in the less conservative half? He’s a country club Republican, not a tea party winger. Mostly.

    • Shakezula says:

      He’s a country club Republican, not a tea party winger. Mostly.

      Based on recent history, his TeaParty Winginess will depend on how well he responds to cues from constituents and Rush Limbaugh and much he wants to keep that seat.

  23. [...] no meaningful relationship between being a good spouse and a good political leader and I don’t really think anybody else does either,* but he’s not so for me it wouldn’t change anything.  And since it’s a primary [...]

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