What is it that the good citizens of Charleston and the South Carolina 1st Congressional District were looking for in a representative? Clearly, although Mark Sanford’s party talks incessantly about values, they were not seeking someone who honors his marriage vows, who believes children should not be shamed by their parents, who cherishes his integrity or his reputation, who sees his responsibilities to the state he leads as more important than his libido, who is shy about lying to cover up his infidelity, or who is in any way inhibited in boasting about how God forgives his slimy behavior. It’s enough to make one wonder why God so often backs disreputable politicians.
But now Mr. Sanford has the perfect job for a man of his skills. Since he demonstrated that he has no concern for what we normally regard as the duties of a political leader, he is at ease. Because no one expects responsible representation, he now enjoys a stress-free existence. More importantly, in emulation of God, his supporters forgave him and no doubt will continue to do so in future elections unless he suggests that a certain black president is not Satan. He has the further good fortune of needing only to impugn the president’s character, expound on how fiscally conservative he is, explain how low wage earners deserve no government help, occasionally fire a weapon, and keep his clothes on in public and he will be applauded as a son of the South. Democracy has known darker hours, but enough about South Carolina.
Yet it is lamentable that the young men of my adopted state will see Mark Sanford as the model their daddies look up to. How an uncomfortable number of Southern men look at and treat Southern women, personified best by the former governor, is a dirty little secret that never surfaces in polite company. Should we even mention how the U.S. Air Force is the latest victim of these good-ol’-boy attitudes? Let the party begin, Mark. You are the incarnation of all the Bubba love your state can muster. By rolling back the stone of ignominy, you’ve earned the right to continue to embarrass your supporters. What did the electorate seek? God only knows, and He, of course, talks only to Mark.
The writer lives in Pawleys Island.