What a public relations nightmare Mark Sanford’s revelations about his affair present to the GOP.
But I suggest that we not concern ourselves with public relations, or with sympathy for Sanford. And we should certainly not follow the path taken by Democrats, whose betrayed wives, like Elizabeth Edwards, go on a book tour or try to rationalize their husband’s affairs, as Hillary Clinton did.
Sanford’s affair proves that one’s personal life — contrary to the claims of the “Clinton lied but no one died” contingent — does affect one’s ability to govern. Sanford’s disastrous press conference revealed that he is a man still torn between his mistress and his wife. That as a governor he could take off for Argentina and place his state in jeopardy proves that the emotional turmoil of an extramarital affair clouds one’s thinking and actions. It gives the lie to the claim that one’s personal life has nothing to do with job performance. It proves that politicians’ personal lives should be the subject of scrutiny. Only a conscienceless person could carry on an affair without it clouding his thinking. Of course, there are the sociopaths, but we don’t want them in office either.
Sadly, this revelation provides fodder for the left-wing attack corps, whose favorite charge is “hypocrisy!” — especially when the cheater promotes family values and has gone after the opposition for the very same sins, as Sanford did during Clinton’s impeachment. There is nothing more that the left would like to do than disprove conservatives’ contentions that high moral values are important. There is nothing better they would like to see happen than a concession to their idea that morals are relative, that such failings are common and therefore not to be condemned too harshly.