After the press conference where Governor Mark Sanford admitted that his mysterious 4-day disappearance the resignation of the governor may be a fait accompli. But that need not be the case. The Sanford case illustrates several problems inherent to the Republican party and the conservative movement.
3. Sexual Misconduct Doesn't Kill Political Careers (Resigning Does)
If you're a politician, it's almost guaranteed that at some point you will be connected with a scandal. Sometimes it's because of something you did; sometimes it's because the press or the opposition party has attached the scandal to you in some way.
In the Sanford case, there is no doubt. He did it. Nobody threw him under the bus. Nobody threw this at him and made it stick. He is guilty by his own admission.
But when it comes to sexual problems, these things have a way of working themselves out. Sure you're a dirty slimeball who cheated on your wife, abandoned your children over Father's Day, but do you really want to give up a political career? Sex doesn't spell the end, but a resignation does.
In 1989 Barney Frank had a gay prostitution ring running out of his apartment, and is still has a powerful political career twenty years later.
In 1998 the world found out about Bill Clinton's escapades with a White House intern, but in spite of an impeachment, he still has a vibrant speaking career and is inexplicably revered by many in the country.
Neither of these men resigned, and both have been political powerhouses even after their sexual misconduct. So why do sexual misdeeds serve as political career killers for some politicians, but not others? It's quite simple...
2. Republicans Demand Integrity from Their Politicians
Barney Frank and Bill Clinton have two things in common
1) Both find the prospect of a sexual encounter with Hillary Clinton revolting
2) They are both Democrats
When Democrats have career threatening-scandals crop up, they have learned to just just ride the storm and it will pass. Remember how just a few weeks ago Nancy Pelosi was on the political chopping block? She rode it out and seems to be in the clear politically now. Remember how Senator Ted Kennedy killed a girl while driving drunk near Chappaquiddick?
When Republicans run into scandal, both Republicans and Democrats demand their resignation, and the Republican attached to the scandal tend to resign. For a perfect example, think of Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House while Bill Clinton was dealing with the Lewinsky scandal. Newt resigned for have an affair, but Bill Clinton remained in office for two more years after perjuring himself, abusing his power as a superior, and, oh yeah, having an affair.
Don't we all know in this post-Clinton world that sex between two consenting adults a private family matter?
Democrats have long and vibrant careers after obvious moral failures, Republicans do not. Why is that? Well...
1. Deny, Deny, Deny, Deny, Apologize
Mark Sanford came right out and admitted to his affair. This is no way to salvage a political career! He should have come out time and time again saying, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman."
Even if you're placed under oath you continue to deny, deny, deny. When you're finally caught, you question the meaning of the questions you are asked. "It depends on what you mean by 'is.'" When you're finally caught beyond denial and rhetorical games, you need to approach your constiuency and beg for forgiveness.
But you never, ever, EVER resign.
Bill Clinton has given politicians the playbook for surviving political death blows, but Republicans won't use it.
Clearly, I don't think Sanford should actually do any of this. The point is that Democrats have survived far worse. But when you're the party of no-values and one of your members has a moral failure, you don't get labeled as a hypocrite. When a Democrat gets caught being a slimeball father, husband, or public servant, they go on to have very fruitful careers (John Edwards notwithstanding). When Republicans are found to be slimeballs their careers are over, as they should be.
If only the Democratic party and Democratic voters had a drop of integrity that Republicans have shown over the years. But I might be asking too much from the party who has never shown they have a moral compass to guide them.