Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Speechless (well, not quite)

Governor Mark Sanford (R, S.C.) has admitted to an extramarital affair. And he disappeared--with apparently no one knowing where he was, and with no way to contact him, either by his family (he has four young boys with his wife) or by his staff--for five or six days. Over Father's Day weekend. To visit his mistress. In Argentina.

Wow. Just wow.

I think he needs to resign as governor. (Not that it is really any of my business, never having ever set foot in South Carolina before.) Oh, sure, he has resigned as the chair of the Republican Governor's Association. It's a start, but not good enough. Governor Sanford allowed his tawdry situation come between him and his duty to the citizens of his state. He allegedly was totally incommunicado for five+ days! I'm pretty sure I would be steamed if President Obama did that. Or if my governor did it. When you become a chief executive, that kind of thing is a luxury you don't get.

Senator John Ensign (R, NV) admitted to an affair about a week ago. Senator Ensign resigned as chair of the Republican Policy Committee, but won't be resigning from his senate seat. I think he should resign, too. (If he doesn't, I hope that the voters will take care of that for him. I know my mother vows never to vote for him again, even if she agrees with his politics.) My feelings are slightly less strong about this situation, though. At least when fallout from the affair threatened his ability to do his job (reportedly blackmail), he stepped up and admitted to the affair. (Still, I think: Resign, sir!)

These two politicians are following in the footsteps of far too many. (John Edwards, Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich come to mind.) Why does it seem that the majority of politicians have extramarital affairs? Is it just because we hear about them more, because they are in the public eye? Or is it a result of the power they get in office? Or are men with the tendency to stray more likely to become politicians?

Whatever it is, it ISN'T all right. We shouldn't turn a blind eye to it, or excuse it because the "other" side does it, too. I want men and women of strong moral character to represent me in the government. If someone can be tempted to break his/her marriage vows, what's to stop him/her from accepting a little bribe here, a little pay-for-play there?

Throw the bums out.


Scott Hinrichs said...

Several 'experts' on this issue I heard today said that male politicians adulterate at about the same rate as other men in powerful positions (business and nonprofit executives, etc). However, politicians' lives are more public by nature of the field they have chosen. Since these people represent the public, the public feels a sense of violation, as does the family.

On the question of why it's always male politicians the philander, these experts said that one must consider the heavily studied and well known fact that men and women are attracted by differing things. Men are attracted by physical attractiveness, which often means that their mistresses are younger. Women of this stripe, in general say these people (I'm just parroting their words), are not nearly as attracted by physical features as they are attracted to the power a man wields.

Religious conservatives are particularly upset about Ensign and Sanford because these men have acted the part of the religious conservative. Thus, they feel more more violated than, say someone holding an opposing ideological view, who may find it little more than amusing fodder to be used for political gain.

Ensign concerns me because he was having an affair with an employee's wife, who was also an employee of Ensign's campaign. The power differential between boss and employee makes this an unequal relationship -- the like of which is strictly prohibited nowadays throughout most of the corporate world, because it is understood that such relationships are often abusive by nature. Thus, this seems much worse than a simple case of consenting adults. Couple that with the fact that some of this probably occurred on the taxpayer's dime, and you've got a lot of ethical problems. Not to mention the fact that the man's judgment certainly should be questioned.

It's too early to tell whether Sanford did anything worthy of impeachment. Whether he did so or not, his political career is probably toast, even if he refuses to resign. Former NY Gov. Spitzer resigned because the law was closing in on him. If Sanford did nothing illegal, he might be able to finish his term. But he's permanently damaged goods. And, my goodness, someone ought to question this guy's judgment. Do South Carolinians really want someone that unstable running their state?

Keryn said...

Your point about Ensign's affair with his employee is a good one, Reach Upward. I hadn't even considered that. That makes the situation even worse, doesn't it?

As for your first paragraph, about rates of infidelity among male politicians, I have to say I'm not surprised. The public nature of the discoveries and "confessionals" makes them stand out more.

Thanks for your comments! I always love seeing a comment from you, because you are invariably thoughtful and full of good information.