What Fresh Hell Is This?

June 26, 2009

Some Sanford Analysis

Let the analysis begin. First from S. A. Miller of the The Washington Times:
Social conservatives, the once-powerful force that focused the Republican agenda on moral virtue and family values, have suffered a diminished brand on the national political landscape as a steady stream of their icons have fallen prey to the vices they once preached against.

Extramarital affairs, gambling, alcohol abuse, prostitution and sexual pursuit of minors have taken a toll on the GOP.

A tearful South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford became the latest social conservative to fall, confessing Wednesday to an affair with a woman that ended with a bizarre episode, in which he disappeared from his security detail and flew to Argentina for a visit, leaving his four sons and wife on Father's Day weekend.
For which no less than Michelle Malkin called him a bastard.

Then Miller goes further into describing the hypocrisy:
In the late 1990s, during and after their pursuit of President Clinton on impeachment charges for a sexual liaison with an intern, several Republican luminaries acknowledged they, too, had indulged in affairs, including pro-life leader Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia and former Rep. Bob Livingston of Louisiana, who resigned just before assuming the speaker's chair. Mr. Sanford voted in favor of three of four articles of impeachment against Mr. Clinton.
But of course, mixes in a dab of a "but both parties do it" argument:
Gary Bauer, president of American Values, a nonprofit group that promotes marriage, family, faith and freedom, said there are plenty of examples of moral weakness in both parties, including Mr. Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky, which led to his impeachment trial,and former Democratic New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's affair with a call girl that forced him to resign.

"Both political parties have had a depressing number of cases of people that were unable to keep their promises to their families," he said. "I think it is sad for the country that character issues seem to do in so many of our promising leaders."

Which is, of course, not the point of hypocrisy at all. It's not about parties. It's about who's claiming the moral (and biblical) high ground while failing to live there - who's condemning the moral failures of others while ignoring the speck or the log in their own eyes.

As Joe Conason points out:
Whenever the latest Republican politician is caught with his zipper undone, a predictable moment of introspection on the right inevitably ensues. Pundits, bloggers and perplexed citizens ruminate over the lessons they have learned, again and again, about human frailty, false piety and the temptations of flesh and power. They express concern for the damaged family and lament the fall of yet another promising young hypocrite. They resolve to restore the purity of their movement and always remember to remind us that this is all Bill Clinton's fault. What they never do is face up to an increasingly embarrassing fact about themselves and their leaders.
And they get away with it. Conason again:
By the way, while Vitter, Ensign, Gingrich and perhaps Sanford have been able to retain their positions and political viability, the same cannot be said for the most recent offenders on the progressive side. Neither Eliot Spitzer nor John Edwards, each among the most promising figures in the Democratic Party, will ever be a candidate for public office again, although their misbehavior was no worse than what their Republican counterparts did.
Meanwhile, he makes an interesting point along the way:
According to the Old Testament -- a text regularly cited by these worthies as the highest authority in denouncing reproductive freedom and gay rights -- the proper penalty for adultery is death by stoning. Leviticus is quite clear on this point (as any truly strict originalist could hardly deny). Fortunately for all of us, biblical law doesn't rule this country, despite the zealots on the religious right who disdain separation of church and state. Very few Americans believe that we should impose state sanctions, let alone the death penalty, on private peccadilloes. But civic tolerance doesn't excuse the limp, smiling attitude of the Republican right toward the infidelity of its leaders.
That's Leviticus 20:10, in case you're looking for chapter and verse.

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