cookiefleck (cookiefleck) wrote in us_politics,

Sanford, et al.

Friend sent me this awhile ago and I just got around to reading it. I like the eye of the needle analogy. From The Nation.

06/30/2009 @ 1:33pm

Sanford's Telltale Heart Exposes GOP's Money/Honey Problem
by The Nation

When Governor Mark Sanford was merely thought to be clearing his mind
on the Appalachian Trial on Naked Hiking Day and all the nanny-state
fuss-budgets and media finger-pointers were freaking out, Joe
Scarborough knew better: His pal Sanford was the real tax-hating, stimulus-
refusing, rugged individual deal, a John Wayne 2.0 who'd stroll back
into South Carolina's capital without a care in the world.

Yeah! That's what I'm talking about, wrote editor Erick
Erickson who called it "refreshing that Mark Sanford is secure enough
in himself and the people of South Carolina that he does not view
himself as an indispensable man." Government can go take a hike.

So powerful is the myth of the diehard individualist against the
state that even after Sanford's gripping press conference--in which
he confessed to cheating on his wife, apologized for going AWOL, and
emotionally fell apart--some of his fellow Ayn Rand men are trying to
shrug off his affair by transferring blame to...Obama.

"The best way to put it--and it's working--he's trying to kill
spirit," Rush Limbaugh said of the president. That's right, Obama
drove Sanford into the arms of Maria Belen Chapur in Buenos Aires.
"He had just tried to fight the stimulus money coming to South
Carolina," Rush logicified. "He didn't want any part of it. He lost
the battle and said, 'What the hell? The Federal government is taking
over! I want to enjoy life!' One of the first things I thought."

Of course it's one of the first things Rush thought--the thrice-
divorced, oxycondone addict clearly knows a thing or two about the
urge to say the hell with it. But in Sanford's case, "it" is less
Obama or the Federal government than the impossibly rigid fiscal and
moral puritanism (enforced in no small part by Limbaugh's lash) that
makes all those hardcore lone-wolves wanna bust the hell out.

Like many a sanctimonious sinner before him, Sanford's stands on gay
marriage, abstinence-only education, and impeaching Bill Clinton for
lying about sex have set him up to fall all the harder. But beneath
the obvious hypocrisy of a family values Republican committing an offense-of-
marriage act lies a deeper contradiction, one that must cleave the
Republican soul. Whatever Sanford's--or John Ensign's, David
Vitter's, or Larry Craig's--personal demons, their bad-boy adventures
cut to the central irony of today's GOP: It's devoted to idea of
private wealth and securing the rights of the individual against the
tyranny of the majority, but its members themselves must adhere to an
ever-narrowing set of acceptable thoughts.

Lest the religious "base" and the party's financiers witch-hunt them
as RINOs, avowed conservatives must (and this is a partial list):
deny global warming, vilify immigrants and Nancy Pelosi, praise Jesus
and Ronald Reagan, and push for war, guns, torture, and excessive
compensation for the oligarchy. They must, in effect, demand that
society not be generous or feel human sympathy, not even for any of
their own irregular yearnings. To fit through the smaller and smaller
eye of the needle, all that laissez faire individuality must be
severely trimmed.

And while it might seem intuitive that someone who is tight with
money will be tight with his personal virtue, in fact nothing is
farther from the truth, and the GOP's insistence on both at once is
self-selecting a crew of outrageous hypocrites as party leaders. Even
the most loyal Republican soldier may think he believes the whole
litany of party rights and wrongs, but, whoopsy-daisy, there he is
tapping his feet in public restrooms, asking prostitutes if they're
good with diapers, bedding a campaign staffer who is his wife's best
friend, or disabling his car's tracking device to flee to Argentina

For years, ever since he rode into the Gingrich congress in 1994,
Mark Sanford didn't seem to be one of those extremists in secret
distress, torn by the urges to both conform and transgress. In fact,
he appeared to be the rare synthesis of those opposing fervors: an
anti-government, culture-war populist who was comfortable alternating
readings from the corporate and religious scripts. What with his Tea
Party, Christian, and Wall Street bona fides (he of Goldman Sachs met
his millionaire wife Jenny, of Lazard Freres, in the Hamptons),
Sanford was nothing less than the 2012 presidential "holy grail,"
evangelical writer Warren Smith told The Daily Beast's Max
Blumenthal. The governor, adds Tea Party macher Brendan Steinhauser,
could have been the guy who finally "unites the different wings of
the Republican Party. Economic conservatives, social conservatives,
national security conservatives."

Maybe, but throughout his political career, Sanford has displayed
an odd absolutism, a rigidity that allowed for zero exceptions to
the rules.

Though Sanford's been getting kudos lately for evincing love for both
wife and mistress, in 2000, he cast the sole vote in Congress against
reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.

In December, 1998, when Bob Livingston, Newt Gingrich's proposed
successor as Speaker of the House, admitted to adultery, Sanford
helped show him the door. Although Livingston hadn't broken the law
(or even lied in a deposition, as Clinton had earlier that year),
Sanford took a stern view worthy of an old Pharoah, telling CNN,
"The bottom he still lied. He lied under a different oath,
and that is the oath to his wife." (As Sanford said in last week's
press conference before admitting his affair, "I'm a bottom-line
kind of guy.")

And the governor's ultimately failed fatwa against accepting stimulus
money to rebuild South Carolina's devastated schools did not seem
grafted on. He may have hoped it'd boost his presidential profile,
but his stinginess is authentic. "If he found an index card in the
garbage and saw that only one side of it had been used," said Will
Folks, his former spokesman, "he would explain to the staffer, `This
is how campaigns are lost.'"

When you've buried both your heart and your wallet under the same
telltale floorboards, after a while maybe you just have to
transgress. Repression itself can be a turn-on: denying sexual
energy, like denying stim funds, can produce a build-up that's got
to find a release. (No, no, don't give me money, withhold it, yes,
yes, yes, withhold it!) No wonder Sanford felt the need to ease the
torque in his head by digging holes on his estate--deep,
hydraulically excavated holes, something he rhapsodized about to
Maria, without adding the detail that, according to The American
Conservative magazine, he paid some $300,000 to an African-American
family whose eight-year-old daughter died after apparently falling
into what has been variously described as a "pit" or a "retaining
pond" on his property.

Democrats, as Fox News reminds us every day, have their share of sex
scandals, and while they do suffer the consequences (Gary Hart, John
Edwards, Clinton), their falls from grace lack the Goppers' full-
fledged bingo! That may be because, as then-Representative Mark
Sanford said of Clinton's apparent Teflon in 1998: "In politics you
can get away with anything as long as it's what's expected. If people
expect you to be a rascal, you can be a rascal."

And if Democrats are expected to be rascals, it's in part because
conservatives have been painting them as wanton libertines about
money and sex for ages--and by doing so, whoopsy-daisy, Republicans
have painted themselves into one very tight corner. Sanford's biggest
sin of all was exposing just how phony the Republican coalition
between bankers and religious folks really is. The Holy Grail brings
life only to the knight whose heart is true.

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