Good grief, Charlie Brown! It seems like the GOP can’t get a break. As you’ve most likely heard, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has confessed his extramarital affair to the world, thus ruining both his public image and his hopes for the 2012 presidential race. On top of that, Republicans are still recovering from Nevada Senator John Ensign’s recent revelation of his adulterous rendezvous with a close family friend and employee. What is the deal?
In my original writing of this column, I had included a large portion of witty remarks that made light of both Ensign and Sanford’s predicaments. After a late night attack of conscience, I decided to rewrite my remarks to be more suited to the gravity of the situation. The truth is this: two families are broken (hopefully temporarily) and the GOP has lost two front runners for their cause to promote family values. Writing scathing comments to merely spice up my column would not only be low, but extremely callous and rude on my part.
In all seriousness, my heart goes out to these men and their families. I hope that episodes such as these are few and far between. It goes to show that any party is susceptible to flaws and indiscretion. Perhaps the answer lies in ensuring that we as citizens and potential leaders in society check ourselves to see if our values and actions reflect those we use to promote our political agendas (assuming that we have such an agenda).
At the same time, we can see that these men perhaps were not always as philandering as they have been of late. Sanford’s letters reflect recognition that he and his Argentine mistress both realized the impossibility of their romance, but slowly gave in to their emotions. Nobody is perfect; this much is clear. Perhaps both Sanford and Ensign could have avoided such a media feeding frenzy by either resisting or resigning before they were publicly flogged for their actions.
However, is it me, or is there more hype on these scandals than others in the recent past? Maybe I’m getting caught up in the moment, but I don’t remember former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich getting such a bad rap and he was being accused of selling a Senate seat! I know that Ensign and Sanford are Republicans that have publicly clung to family values, but I hope that they are also given the same leniency. Ensign’s affair happened over a year ago and Sanford is really trying to make amends to his family and his constituents as best he can.
With Sanford’s political fall from grace, the Republicans lose another potential presidential nominee for the 2012 race. Although this is minuscule in comparison to the impact on his family, it definitely raises the question as to whether the GOP will have a viable, electable nominee for the next “Big Dance.”
Nevertheless, we can see through sad experiences that men (and women), regardless of rank and title, are subject to temptation and folly. I wish the best for these men and their families. My hope is that we drop the stereotypes of both parties and accept that it’s not the party that makes the leaders who they are; rather, it’s the leaders and their values that make the party what it really is.
Jess Jones is a conservative political columnist for Rhombus.
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