Cry for me, Argentina!Oh, the Appalachian Trail. It’s famous as the longest footpath in the nation
By: Bill Press, The Dickinson Press
Oh, the Appalachian Trail. It’s famous as the longest footpath in the nation — but now we know it’s even longer than we thought, stretching all the way from Maine to Argentina! And nobody ever encountered as many bumps along the trail as South Carolina’s Republican Gov. Mark Sanford.
After Larry Craig, John Ensign and Eliot Spitzer, zipper problems among politicians should not surprise us anymore. But, still, Sanford’s fall from grace may be the most bizarre of all.
When fellow Republican, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer first reported his absence from the state, Sanford had already been missing in action for five days, over Father’s Day weekend. He told no one where he was going. He left no one in charge. He did not phone or e-mail. And nobody knew where he was. Not his staff. Not the lieutenant governor. Not even his wife and kids.
Spokesperson Joel Sawyer told reporters the governor had just gone off for a hike on the Appalachian Trail, to “clear his head” after a tough legislative session. That story collapsed when Sanford’s car was found at the Atlanta airport, 80 miles from the trailhead. Seven days after disappearing, a tearful governor returned to Columbia to admit he’d actually been in Buenos Aires the whole time, hanging out with his Argentinian girlfriend.
And, of course, in this age of the Internet, Sanford’s apology was immediately followed by publication of torrid emails he exchanged with “Maria.” In one of those e-mails he praised her “magnificent gentle kisses” and expressed his love for “your tan lines,” “the curve of your hips” and “the erotic beauty of you holding yourself (or two magnificent parts of yourself) in the faded glow of the night’s light — but, hey, that would be going into the sexual details we spoke of at the steakhouse at dinner — and unlike you, I would never do that!” Ay, caramba!
Now, I know liberals are not supposed to take pleasure in another man’s pain. Bleeding hearts, one and all, we’re supposed to feel sorry for Mark Sanford. No glee allowed.
Baloney! Yes, I feel sorry for Mrs. Sanford and the kids, but as for the governor — he got what he deserved. Lots of glee for me. I haven’t stopped grinning since I heard the news, because it means that one more Republican hypocrite bites the dust.
As a Republican member of Congress, remember, Sanford was one of the loudest voices demanding that Bill Clinton resign the presidency. Why? Because, according to Sanford, “The issue of lying is probably the biggest harm, if you will, to the system of Democratic government, representative government, because it undermines trust. And if you undermine trust in our system, you undermine everything.”
Once again, what goes around comes around. Now it’s time for Sanford to take his own medicine and resign as governor. He’s no poster boy for the religious right, after all. As Jon Stewart pointed out, Mark Sanford turns out to be “just another politician with a conservative mind — and a liberal penis.”
But the latest GOP scandal is not about Mark Sanford alone. It’s about the whole, holier-than-thou Republican Party. For more than 30 years, they’ve paraded themselves as America’s moral guardians, the party of family values. You’ve heard their self-righteousness: Republicans are moral; Democrats are immoral. Republicans believe in God, Democrats believe in Satan. Some even seriously argued “GOP” stands for “God’s Own Party.”
Nobody can make that argument anymore. Republicans long ago ceased being the party of small government or fiscal responsibility. Today, they’re no longer the party of family values, either.
Indeed, we now see Republicans unmasked for whom they really are: a bunch of lying, amoral, believe-in-nothing-except-their-own-political-careers hypocrites — and a party desperately searching for new leadership, yet watching one potential savior after another self-destruct.
Just in the last six months, Bobby Jindal bombed and disappeared from the scene. Rick Perry urged Texans to secede from the Union. Sarah Palin was forced to repay the state of Alaska for political junkets on which she dragged her kids along. John Ensign has an affair with a campaign staffer, while keeping her, her husband, and their son on his payroll. And Mark Sanford disappears with his Argentinian bombshell.
There’s only one candidate left. In 2012, it looks like Republicans are going to have to stick with a paragon of moral virtue: Newt Gingrich!
— Press is host of a nationally syndicated radio show and an author.