24 June 2009

South Carolina: Hypocrisy is no crime

Attached to MSNBC's report of Governor Sanford's confession of an extramarital affair is a poll question: should Sanford resign? So far, the overwhelming majority of readers say yes, but I voted "Maybe." In my opinion, adultery itself isn't reason enough for an elected official to quit his office. Nor, despite the renewed gloating of Democrats, is hypocrisy sufficient reason for Sanford to resign. It is noted that Sanford supported the impeachment and removal of President Clinton, but it should be understood by now that the impeachers did not seek his removal merely for having an affair, but for lying under oath and suborning perjury -- and because they hated his guts and were perfectly happy to find an extra-electoral means of eliminating him. In any event, it doesn't follow that a politician who demands that another politician pay a penalty for a moral offense should pay the penalty himself as long as I don't think that either man should pay the penalty.

The reason I don't come out entirely for Sanford keeping his office is the matter of his deceiving his staff and, by extension, the people of his state. It was bad enough that his whereabouts were officially unknown for a number of days, but to mislead the state into believing he was somewhere he wasn't ought to be censurable, at least. But punishment enough for Sanford is the realization that any higher political ambitions he may have had are gone. That may not even be fair, to the extent that it's because of the affair rather than the deception, but that's the price he pays for the partisan company he keeps.


hobbyfan said...

Nearly a year and a half ago, we had seen our governor resign because he cheated on his wife with a mere hooker. Gov. Sanford's offense, in truth, is much worse.

Consider also that if the first calls for Sanford's ouster don't come from either party, you can bet the farm that the religious leaders in the area will be making enough noise to force the issue. It is SOUTH Carolina, after all.

Samuel Wilson said...

From what I've heard, the first call for Sanford to quit came from a Democratic legislator.

I'm not sure if I agree with your comparison of Sanford with Spitzer, who clearly broke the law merely by patronizing a prostitute. Sanford's offense is more like dereliction of duty. That's arguably a greater failure as a governor, while Spitzer's may be a greate failure as a man.

hobbyfan said...

Actually, Sammy, each man is guilty of the same exact thing. Extra-marital liasons in the call of duty, shall we say? Just saw a Yahoo! headline that says a GOP leader (what a shock) is calling for Sanford's ouster as Governor of So. Carolina.