Personally, I think the sex life of anyone — including elected officials — is their own damn business, but you can’t help but shake your head at the behavior of people like Governor Mark Sanford and you may even enjoy watching him squirm. After all, he preached morality to others while sinning himself. He publicly called for President Clinton to resign for his sexual indiscretions. He tried to force Larry Craig to resign after his public bathroom caper and arrest. He opposes gay marriage (even civil unions) based on the “sanctity of marriage”, and talks about “family values” while spending father’s day with his lover, away from his children.
What is worse, the only reason Sanford admitted to his infidelity was because it was discovered. So when he says he’s sorry, it seems like he is only sorry because he got caught. Plus there is the issue that as a governor, he shouldn’t just vanish without telling anyone where he is. On top of all that, he used public money for at least one of his visits to his girlfriend. It doesn’t make it any better that he is paying that money back — now that he got caught.
Even so, reading the emails between Sanford and his love, I do feel sorry for him. Love is a powerful thing that makes us stupid. Nobody is immune to it. I refuse to judge him, even though he judged others. Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.
But I do find it especially annoying that some conservatives are claiming that Republicans are judged more harshly, and are forced “into resignation or disgrace more easily than their equally adulterous Democratic counterparts.” As if they didn’t deserve harsher judgement for their “family values” rhetoric and hypocritical condemnation of others. But George Stephanopoloulos points out that while Republicans Sanford, John Ensign, David Vitter, and Larry Craig stayed in office after sex scandals, Democrats Eliot Spitzer, Jim McCreevey, and Kwame Kilpatrick all resigned (not to mention that Clinton was impeached). How hypocritical is it to be hypocritical about your own hypocrisy?
UPDATE: Just when I thought this couldn’t get any more hypocritical — Rush Limbaugh blames Sanford’s affair on Obama and the Federal government.
UPDATE 2: A journalist argues convincingly that some politicians invite judgement on themselves in an article entitled “Attention, Narcissist Horndogs”.