Last week, I wrote an article about Mark Sanford’s big comeback. He was re-elected to his old congressional seat (the one he occupied before becoming an infamous Governor) beating no less than Stephen Colbert’s sister.
But now what? By all accounts the once-and-future congressman will cause friction for the RNC, who refused to back him in the Republican primary. This let him cast himself as “his own man,” although the idea of a former governor/congressman as political outsider is ridiculous. Although it’s no more ridiculous than Sanford’s campaign strategy of associating Elizabeth Colbert Busch with Nancy Pelosi, thus letting the former governor in a hugely safe Republican district seem like the wild-card underdog.
So if Sanford goes back to congress he’ll either be: 1. A recalcitrant thorn in the side of GOP’s desperate management wing, who badly want/need to reign in the self-destructive Tea Party. 2. A self-serving power player who’ll negotiate things between the “indoor wing” (the business people) of the party, and the “outdoor wing” (social conservatives). 3. Completely ineffectual and mostly MIA…I truly believe that the biggest achievement of Sanford’s second congressional career will be getting re-elected in the first place. He’ll bide his time, and wait until he can run for Governor (or senator) again. It’ll be all about moving up instead of really accomplishing anything.
Which begs the question: If a legislator as crappy as Sanford is back, can we get back somebody who’s actually good? The Democrats don’t do second acts. And Bill Maher made an excellent point a few weeks back about how misbehaving conservatives (Newt Gingrich, Sanford, etc.) get a second chance because evangelicals love a good redemption story. So if backwoods Bible-beaters can forgive Sanford, I think the enlightened intellectuals in New York should be willing to do the same for Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner.
Who wouldn’t love to see Weiner as Mayor of NYC, and Spitzer back in the Governor’s mansion? [Except for, maybe, Wall Street.] If we’re finally moving towards European levels of acceptance towards social behavior that’s none of our business, then it’s time for liberals to do the same. We may never see a John Edwards comeback in our lifetimes, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a hell of a lot better senator than Sanford will ever be a congressman.