A politician’s second chance?

Remember Mark Sanford, the Republican governor of South Carolina?  Disappeared in 2009?  Released story that he was hiking the Appalachian Trail?  Was really in Argentina with his mistress?  Finished his term in disgrace?

Well, he just won the Republican primary for his old seat in the House of Representatives, an office he held before he was elected governor.  Now divorced from his wife, he is engaged to his Argentinian flame.  As if this isn’t fodder enough for political satirists, he will be running against Democratic candidate Elizabeth Colbert Busch.  The sister of political satirist Stephen Colbert.

Do you think Sanford deserves a second chance?  Should the people of South Carolina forgive him for what he did?  Do you think they will?  Does Christian forgiveness extend to this sort of thing, or does that mingle the Two Kingdoms?  If Sanford is to be forgiven for his affair, did he still present himself as being intrinsically untrustworthy and intrinsically embarrassing so that he no longer deserves public office?  Is it a bigger drawback to have perpetuated a sex scandal or to have a comedian for a brother?  Which is the bigger advantage?  If, when faced with two equally disagreeable choices, your practice is to vote for the one that would be funnier, whom would you vote for?  Should we give up on democracy and see if the Queen would take us back?  Answer your own questions.

See  Mark Sanford wins Republican primary for old seat in South Carolina | News | National Post.

HT:  My brother Jimmy

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Pete

    “Do you think Sanford deserves a second chance? Should the people of South Carolina forgive him for what he did? Do you think they will? Does Christian forgiveness extend to this sort of thing, or does that mingle the Two Kingdoms?”

    Christian forgiveness here is a no-brainer. Political forgiveness, not so much. Proof that the Republican party is in disarray. And what kingdoms are we mingling? South Carolina and Argentina?

  • SKPeterson

    This is nothing more than Gresham’s Law at work in politics – the crazy and bad drive out the good. So, the best the people of South Carolina get is a choice between a disgraced former governor and a woman who’s major claim to ability to govern is that her brother is a political comedian. If it isn’t then why play up her maiden name? Well, as becomes depressingly consistent, name recognition and free publicity now go a long way in not just conferring “legitimacy” but in actually creating it. Which brings to mind Mencken’s observation that democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.

  • Joe

    Forgiveness is a good thing. But just because someone has been forgiven doesn’t mean you have to elect him to public office.

  • BT

    What a picture of our culture! Here is a man who obviously is not remorseful or repentant-if he were he would not be flaunting his adultery and driving the knife deeper and deeper into the hearts of his children and wife (no I do not mean ex-wife). In one sense I find it unbelievable that the people of SC would want such a man as their representative and yet totally believable in this relevalistic society where nothing is sacred.

  • BT

    sorry misspelled relativistic!

  • EGK

    Forgiveness is the job, first, of those whom he offended, and second, his pastor. For election to public office, character is the question.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    As someone who tends to vote GOP, it saddens me that there are apparently no better choices in this district. Forgive, yes, but there is the issue of character.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist

    Forgiveness is not reconciliation. I can forgive a thief, but I won’t let him run my finances. The fact that Sanford is even on the ballot is a shame.

  • tODD

    SK mentioned (@2):

    …a woman who’s major claim to ability to govern is that her brother is a political comedian. If it isn’t then why play up her maiden name?

    Right. Because no woman in history has ever used her maiden name as part of her full name except as part of a blatant publicity ploy. Who of us can forget how Hillary Rodham Clinton made a desperate bid to ride the coattails of her father, textile wholesaler Hugh Ellsworth Rodham? What a cheap stunt that was!

    Besides, you’re missing the real scandal here: as a native St. Louisian, she’s actually trying to make a desperate grab for the blue-collar vote by blatantly affiliating herself with the low-class beer brand, through the flagrant usage of her last name!

    Also, is it me, or has she actually not claimed that her brother is the main reason for electing her? She seems to mainly have a background in business and, correct me if I’m wrong, but occasionally Republicans have championed candidates who have little political experience but come from a business background.

    I won’t deny that she likely is leveraging her brother’s fame to some degree. But then, nor would I believe that, were she a Republican, anyone would have a problem with her doing that. It doesn’t invalidate her candidacy. There’s not a lot she can do to un-become his sister, anyhow.

  • Jimmy Veith

    You are right tODD. There is nothing wrong with leveraging your brother’s fame. My brother does it all the time. :)


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