Thursday, June 25, 2009

Governor Mark Sanford (R-SC) Has Been Acting Irresponsibly For A Long Time

The outrage over Governor Mark Sanford's affair has begun.

Conservatives have started to throw Sanford overboard and have begun the usual process of lamenting the state of their party that has gone on every time one of these recent scandals has appeared. The New York Times reports about one such conservative who has commented on the Sanford scandal:

“Personal circumstances over the course of the last week have managed to shrink the front line of the 2012 possible-contender list by 40 percent,” said Phil Musser, a former executive director of the Republican Governors Association.

Speaking of Mr. Sanford’s confession, Mr. Musser said, “The concern here is that this continues a broader narrative that is completely unhelpful to the Republican Party’s rebuilding — that’s life, but it’s a personal tragedy that fairly or unfairly compounds a series of problems.”

I expect that we'll see alot more Republicans come forward and say that Sanford's affair is unfortunate and "unhelpful" to the party, and we'll probably witness a lot of hand-wringing and distancing from the Palmetto state governor, too.

I have major problem with the right's distancing fom Sanford -- it focuses on exactly the wrong thing.

Sex scandals are bad. Cheating on your wife is a terrible thing, no doubt. But let's be honest with ourselves here, Sanford is responsible for a lot more irresponsible behavior than adultery.

My aunt recently retired from teaching in the public school system in South Carolina. She taught at one of two IB schools in the entire state. Due to the Sanford's right-wing antics of trying to reject stimulus package money or use it to pay down state debt, her school was in danger of having to cancel its IB program -- and thousands of teachers were expecting layoffs. Sanford's pandering to the far right -- which apparently values "small government" over the welfare of the children who rely on teachers and the educational system -- threatened to sink his state even further.

Yet he was lionized for his 19th century views on government and his reckless behavior in the face of economic crisis. Newsweek even proudly proclaimed that he may very well be "the last conservative standing" and a major GOP Presidential contender due to his lack of concern for the welfare of the families in the state who couldn't afford private education.

But now, he cheated on his wife, which is a pretty bad thing to do, but let's be honest -- it's nowhere near as bad as trying to starve your state's educational system, doubtlessly plunging thousands of poor children into poverty as a result. Yet the former action has made him persona non grata, and the latter made him into some kind of hero. What kind of moral system are we using to judge our public officials, anyway?

By the way, the South Carolina Supreme Court forced Governor Sanford to take the stimulus money for schools, ending his shameless pandering to the anarcho-capitalist right once and for all. Gotta love those activist judges.