Mark Sanford is back. That’s both the good news and the bad news. South Carolina’s disgraced former Governor just won a congressional seat against no less than Stephen Colbert’s sister. [Sometimes truth is not only stranger than fiction but better than it.]
Elizabeth Colbert Busch had the misfortune of running as a Democrat in a congressional district that hasn’t elected one in nearly 30 years. It’s actually the same seat Mark Sanford held for eight years before becoming Governor.
I’ll be honest and say that someone like Sanford leaves me very conflicted. On the one hand, most people hate him for the exact wrong reasons: his affair with a gorgeous Argentine journalist who’s now his fiancee, and using “tax payer money” (what? a thousand bucks?) to go to Argentina to see her when he was Governor. This is actually the most interesting thing about Mark Sanford.
I think pretty much everyone would admit his first marriage was a sham for political convenience (as, spoiler alert, most political marriages are, hate to break it to you), but most politicians would have just “found God,” begged for forgiveness, and promised never to do it again. The fact that Sanford actually had one of the more interesting political affairs in recent memory, and that it had more to do with real feelings than power (most congressmen have affairs because they can, it’s usually some old pig in a back room with an intern or hooker) makes——-and I know not everyone agrees——–an otherwise horrible politician seem more likable.
What people should actually hate Mark Sanford for are his views, his personality, and his dismal record as Governor. This is a neo-con’s neocon. [How sad is it that they’ve tried to make Mark Sanford seem like a moderate voice compared to the militia-esque conservatives now in congress?] He’s completely unsympathetic to the poor. He’s a C-Street buffoon who thinks God rewards the chosen with wealth (check out Jeff Sharlett’s great book C-Street for more on this). And every idea in his head could be described as “economically conservative,” or “bad for non-rich people.” There’s no doubt that he’ll be exactly the same, if not worse as a congressman today than he was as a governor yesterday. And there’s also no doubt that he’ll complicate matters with the party leadership who did not endorse him in the Republican primary as they try to reign in and reconcile with the Tea Party.
The bottom-line is that Mark Sanford may be an interesting and oddly sympathetic tabloid story, but I like him more as a romancer than a leader.