Cheap Grace

Discernment-free conservatism rejoices at the spectacle of Mark Sanford, who ditched his wife for a Latin American hottie on the public dime and lied about it, winning an election. Cue Sanford, spouting the rhetoric of Christian Tofu Moralistic Therapeutic Deism:

“I want to acknowledge a God not just of second chances but third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth chances, because that is the reality of our shared humanity,” Sanford said at his victory celebration after defeating his Democratic opponent, Elizabeth Colbert Busch. “I am one imperfect man saved by God’s grace.”

Man. That dude must have gone through an epic Jean Valjean conversion, repented his manifold sins and changed completely right?

Well no. Actually, he ditched his wife and kids (though he did have the testicular brass to ask her to run his campaign–she declined) and has now taken up with the Latin hottie. Then his very next thought was “I want my power back.”  Right wingers worried about “anti-family socialists” who steal your tax money to fund the breakup of families were thrilled and gave him that power–the power he used last time to use state monies to fly to adulterous trysts while lying to his family and to the people who just voted him back in. But who cares? A “family values” Republican has power and he does blather on about whatever focus-grouped culture war red meat plays with FOX watchers and talk radio drones, so that makes him an apostle of grace. The Conservative Anti-Charism of Discernment marches on!

Compare and contrast this man’s behavior with that of a real penitent.

Ross Douthat is absolutely right: “I’m a John Profumo guy living in a Mark Sanford world.”

Mark Sanford is Exhibit #909840982432 in why I will never ever support the GOP and its filthy exploitation of God-talk ever again. Do I believe he should be extended mercy? Sure. “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” (Mark 11:25). But do I think that forgiveness means that anybody in their right mind should vote for such a despicable impenitent man? Of course not. The very last thing that any Christian who really cared about this guy should do is give him back the very power he showed himself so radically incapable of using well the last time. You might as well reward an alcoholic with an open bar tab as he stands there clutching his last bottle, bleary-eyed, covered with vomit and babbling something about “grace”. We are not to be wise as doves and innocent as serpents.

And before anybody says it, refusing to vote for this man would not have meant compulsion to vote for his opponent. It simply means exercising some common sense and not bringing the gospel into disrepute, yet again, by letting some God-talking pol do a Bill Clinton Bible-totin’ photo op. Oh. Wait! I forgot. Bill Clinton actually stayed with his wife! He’s a better man than the GOP’s “family values” candidate in SC.

  • ivan_the_mad

    “Why can’t they both lose?”

  • Stu

    This is like Obama/Romney in reverse.

    Sanford’s win show’s what a terrible candidate Colbert was.

  • Beadgirl

    I was complaining to Mr. Beadgirl yesterday about how angry Sanford makes me. I had never heard of Profumo before, so thank you, Mark, for pointing me towards a wonderful example of repentance and charity. (And a more sarcastic “thanks” for giving me a reason to be even angrier about Sanford.)

  • A.I.Sanchez

    Latin American hottie? Oh you mean another woman.

  • Scotty

    As disgusted I am with the Sanford and the GOP, I’m curious to see how he will be received by Congress. I hope most Republicans will steer clear of this guy and just let him keep to himself in Washington.

  • The Deuce

    I probably would’ve voted for him, with nose gripped tightly, simply because both candidates were phony abusers of the public trust who made a mockery of their marriage vows (“race to the bottom event” is a perfect description of the election, btw). So it would have come down to my resentment at the media’s usual attempts to hide the record of one candidate, combined with my trust that at least Sanford will be closely scrutinized, combined with my desire not to inflict Colbert-Busch on my fellow citizens, combined with my desire to make Stephen Colbert cry.

    • Imp the Vladaler

      Anything that makes Stephen Colbert break character can’t be bad.

      • chezami

        Actually, his response was hilarious. Drudge was tone deaf.

        • Imp the Vladaler

          Well, Drudge is tone-deaf a lot. But in the end, one man’s thinly veiled petulant whining is another man’s hilarious response.

          The latitude you give this pro-abortion “Catholic” never ceases to amaze. When the FOX gang or the folks at National Review fly cover for Republicans who take anti-Catholic positions, you have no trouble pointing that out. But a comedian who flacks for Murder, Inc. while professing Catholicism and teaching Sunday School? Hilarious guy. No scandal there or anything. Up next: more in our eight-part series on how Live Action is a den of iniquity.

          Someday I hope to understand your reasoning, because as of now I don’t have a charitable explanation.

          • chezami

            It’s not really complicated. Colbert is wrong on abortion. He’s also really funny. If somebody on FOX was funny (deliberately, I mean, not inadvertantly as is so often the case) I would note that too. Colbert is a mixed bag, full of the normal lefty tropes of his sort. He’s also a bad, believing Catholic who weirdly manages to evangelize an audience that would otherwise get zero exposure to the Faith. So I figure “glass half full” when possible while rejecting those places where he is wrong. I don’t operate by the standard tribal demands of American politics which dictate that disagreeing with somebody where they are wrong entails hating and denouncing everything they say, think, and do lest I be perceived as incurring ritual impurity. Nobody here is likely to embrace Colbert’s obviously wrong positions on, say, abortion. They *are* however very likely to embrace FOX’s evil and anti-Catholic positions on the glories of Randian “thought”, or the splendor of torture, or the joy of creative destruction for the greater good. So I have a responsibility to warn against doing that. I assume nobody here is going to say, “Stephen Colbert is funny. Ergo abortion is fine.”

            • Imp the Vladaler

              I think any positive evangelization that may result is at least balanced by the negative evangelization of telling his audience that heterodoxy on the Church’s position on murder is okay.

              If you think he makes funny jokes, great. Sometimes he does, as did George Carlin. But when you promote this guy, you’re helping him to spread lies straight from the pit of Hell.

              • Matthew

                Imp: Do you not see that you are giving a perfect example of what Mark is talking about in the above post? To say I like somethings a person doe is not to “promote this guy”. I am presuming that you, like myself, are a normal sinful human being. If I approve of something good that you do does that make me liable for endorsing anything bad you do or evil you say?? Didn’t someone somewhere talk about the weeds and wheat growing up together? Often the weeds and the wheat are together in one person.

                • Imp the Vladaler

                  I don’t expect Mark to hail the achievements and statements of only the sinless. That would be impossible. But contrast his treatment of Colbert and Live Action.

                  Colbert: hilarious, shines the light of Truth on one the evils of the right, well-meaning evangelist for the Faith. But yeah, okay, you got me: he’s wrong on abortion. Pobody’s nerfect. He still goes after the Cheney/Wolfowitz/Neoconservative cabal, hammer and tongs.

                  Live Action: Here’s my eighth post about the reason that they’re headed to Perdition because they lied to an abortionist.

                  • chezami

                    Yes. Weirdly enough, I do hold a group that proposes itself as a moral standard bearer to the Catholic prolife movement to a high standard when they foolish seduce people who should know better to passionately embrace the notion “Let us do evil that good may come of it”. Colbert persuades no prolifer of this because he’s a comic, not a moral standard bearer. His job is to make me laugh. In addition, as a bonus, he often does a fine job of skewering things that my own subculture will not touch due to its tribal loyalties and love of unjust war, torture, fealty to capitalist talking points and “kick out 12 million immigrants” fantasies. He’s wrong on abortion, gay “marriage” and the usual leftist tropes. But he’s right on other things. None of my readers is going to be tempted to buy his abortion excuse-making. Huge number of my readers *do* buy Live Action’s consequentialism. So I can preach to the choir and tell my readers to go right ahead with their embrace of doing evil, or I can throw a bit of red meat and tell everybody what they already know: that abortion is bad. I think it’s better to challenge my readers than make them feel self-satisfied.

        • The Deuce

          I thought his response was hilarious too. In that I was laughing at his thinly-disguised whiny butthurt.

          • chezami

            Or, you know, being a normal person loyal to a family member like normal people normally do. And given that she lost to a total creep like Sanford, that’s probably not all *that* hard to understand. So I thought that, on whole, turning that into pretty good comedy was doing his job well. He could have just pulled a Nixon ’62.

  • http://twitter.com/cactusncarolina cactusincarolina

    I’m a conservative and I wouldn’t have voted for Sanford. But Stephen Colbert’s whine is a bit much. Now that his sister gets trounced, he realizes that political campaigns, and the media…but I repeat myself, lie about their opponents? I’m not asking Colbert to become a Republican, but it disturbs me that he promotes how Catholic he is,while openly supporting the pro abortion Democrat party.

    • chezami

      “Now that his sister gets trounced, he realizes that political campaigns, and the media…but I repeat myself, lie about their opponents?”

      You do realize that was tongue-in-cheek, right?

      • The Deuce

        He’s always trying to sound tongue-in-cheek. To me it gets old after a while. What was funny about this one was how hollow the attempt came off, and how easily the passive-aggressive sneering at South Carolina’s electorate showed through the veneer.

        • Imp the Vladaler

          Colbert and Stewart always have the “clown nose on, clown nose off” thing, which makes them difficult targets for criticism. But this was “clown nose off, and thrown at the audience,” which made it very special indeed.

          • chezami

            Rubbish. They can be criticized like anybody else. They are wrong when they disagree with the Church’s teaching–like anybody else. But the fact is, they do yeoman work in pointing out the often grotesque BS that emanates from DC and the media–on both sides of the aisle. Unfortunately, you often get more accurate news from them than you do from the MSM.

            • Imp the Vladaler

              What I mean – and what the “clown nose” thing suggests – is that they both expect to be taken seriously as political commentators. And that’s great. But when someone actually challenges them and begins to get the better of the argument, they (more Stewart than Colbert) back off and play the “it’s a comedy show!” card.

              • chezami

                Actually, when I see Stewart interviewed, he’s pretty clear that he expects to be taken as a clown. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kN-W2_VQba4

                • Imp the Vladaler

                  Of course he does… when he’s being challenged. That’s “Clown Nose On.” He gets questioned substantively, and he’s a comedian.

                  If he placed comedy before ideology, he’d go after the left and right roughly evenly. It’s “Clown Nose On” when it’s time to rip Republicans.

                  • chezami

                    Who said anything about him being ideology-free? He himself makes clear he speaks from a particular ideological bent. Do you imagine a clown is bound to adhere to the (fictional) standards of “fair and balanced”. It’s fake news, remember?

                    • Imp the Vladaler

                      Mark, I can only echo what “The Deuce” said above. If they want to participate in public debates – using humor – that’s fine. They can be both comedians and ideologues. But if they’re going to attempt to persuade with comedy, they need to be prepared to defend their positions. Otherwise they’re just partisan hacks, and they’re dishonest about it.

                      Deny that there’s such a thing as balance, Mark, if that’s what it takes to support your point. But we both know that if they placed comedy before ideology, they’d find many more ways to go after the left.

                    • chezami

                      Where have I denied that there is such a thing as balance–or denied that these guys are obvioujsly lefties? I don’t go to comedians expecting unbiased news reportage. I go to them expecting to laugh. They usually deliver the goods. As a bonus, they usually deliver some very insightful jabs at crappy media and the follies, vices, and corruption of the powerful. Works for me.

                    • Imp the Vladaler

                      Where have I denied that there is such a thing as balance.

                      Well, how would you like me to parse “Do you imagine a clown is bound to adhere to the (fictional) standards of ‘fair and balanced’”?

            • The Deuce

              They’re difficult to criticize because they can make what is actually a vicious slander, or try to sell their audience a vicious lie by leaving vital information out, and then if you try to criticize them for it, they can hide behind that “It’s just comedy. Don’t you have a sense of humor?!” bit.

              They like to be portrayed as *both* brave truth-tellers “pointing out the grotesque BS that emanates from DC and the media” on the one hand, and as “just comedians” when criticized for their own frequent participation in the grotesque BS on the other.

    • Stu

      He can be a funny guy. But I remain doubtful as to his fidelity to the Magisterium.

      • chezami

        I’m not doubtful: I *know* he ignores the Magisterium. :)

    • Imp the Vladaler

      Yeah, that thing about politicians lying was a joke. But his conclusion – about looking past party affiliation when voting for candidates – was pure whining, was serious as a heart attack, and revealed a lack of self-awareness. He was voting for this dame because she’s a blood relative. That’s much better than partisanship.

    • The Deuce

      “Now that his sister gets trounced, he realizes that political campaigns,
      and the media…but I repeat myself, lie about their opponents?”

      It’s especially funny when you consider that his whole shtick consists of selling one-sided and, let’s say, somewhat distorted representations of reality. If portrayals of his sister were even only twice as honest as his portrayals (or non-portrayals) of Bengazi or Gosnell, his sense of justice might not be so misplaced. It’s even funnier when you consider that his sister was actually just “smeared” with the truth about her.

  • Lisa O

    I think we are better off criticizing his policies as opposed to his chastity. “Let him/her who has never boxed the clown/checked for squirrels cast the first stone.”

    That rules me out.

    Now wrt his policies, it appears he has no interesting views on anything but has been endorsed by Ron Paul and Larry Flint, two of the craziest people in America. Please excuse the ad hominem. Also of note, the GOP threw him under the van after he broke into his ex’s house. See, the GOP DOES have standards.

    • chezami

      Right. Standards.

  • jaybird1951

    I am puzzled by Mark’s reference to “discernment free conservatism” rejoicing in Sanford’s victory. I was not aware that conservatives and Republicans in general were rejoicing in his victory. Pleased of course not to have lost a congressional seat but where was the “rejoicing” among conservatives in general?

    • chezami

      Somebody voted for this loser.

      • vox borealis

        Perhaps so-called “moderate republicans” voted for him, but actual, real conservatives did not? The last I recall, something like one-third of the electorate now identifies as independent or some other name not Democrat or Republican. It is increasingly anachronistic to conflate “conservative” with “Republican,” though in terms of *rhetoric* there is is often somewhat more overlap between what conservatives want and what Republicans say to get their votes.

      • Stu

        I believe his victory is more indicative of people voting “against” Colbert.

    • Lisa O

      The GOP pulled its support for him.

      As a member of the DFC community, i personally think it’s a disaster that this fellow won. I am also puzzled by Shea’s statement.

  • Lisa O

    Separated at birth?
    Both look like stalkers and married their mistresses; however, one can kick the other’s ass in polo.

    • Lisa O

      Sorry, Sanford and Prince Charles from the 90′s.

  • Dave G.

    It seems to me that the big difference between Colbert and Stewart and someone like Limbaugh is that Limbaugh admits what he is. From what I’ve noticed, Colbert and Stewart, as well as Maher, rush to hide behind the ‘we’re just humble comedians’ shield when things get tough. Otherwise, they’re all pretty much the same.

    Can’t say much about the race since I didn’t really follow it, and only know a little bit about either candidate.

    • http://www.likelierthings.com/ Jon W

      I don’t get this. What kind of things getting tough are you talking about? Are you blaming Jon Stewart for not having any good policy plans? He’s a court jester. It’s not his job to come up with policy. It’s his job not to be impressed by charisma such that he’s able to point out when the emperor’s a lying jackass.

      • Dave G.

        There’s nothing to do with policy plans. The fact that they are comedians is irrelevant next to the fact that they are pundits who advocate certain agendas. No problem, just wish they’d admit it: “Sure, we’re comedians, but we’re mainly pundits who are about advocating this or that view or agenda”. Someone who says he’s a comedian, but spends his life driving trucks for a living, is IMHO a truck driver, not a comedian just because he says so.

        • chezami

          Um, they do admit that. See the interview with Stewart. He frankly acknowledges he speak from a particular ideological framework. He’s a comedian because he does comedy. He’s not “mainly a pundit” because pundits don’t tell fart jokes on Comedy Central.

          • Dave G.

            He’s a pundit who tells fart jokes on Comedy Central. His show, like Colbert’s, is geared toward advancing their particular views. Again, fair enough. Just don’t jump behind the ‘I’m just a humble jester’ shield when things heat up. Yes, there was a time when a comedian might have been biased, but as a comedian first would approach things more across the board (I’m thinking of Carson). But Colbert and Stewart (and Maher, though I’ve never laughed at Maher) have learned they can do some comedy, but make sure the comedy serves their purposes in advancing their particular beliefs and preferences first and foremost. Hence, pundits.

            • Andy

              actually I think the pundits are the comics – can’t separate fact and fiction, and when all else fails make it up. If Colbert and Stewart ar pundits then heaven help us, because at least they. make sense sometimes.

              • Dave G.

                Most pundits make sense sometimes. Broken clocks and all. I think Stewart and Colbert and Limbaugh (though not Maher) make sense sometimes. They’re all pundits. And in their own weird way, are all comedians (whether intentional or not). I think the line has become blurred and that’s the problem and while all will go after their ‘own sides’ at different times, you would be hard pressed to miss who they are willing to give the benefit of the doubt to, and who they’re going to nail to the wall. Hence, pundit.

  • Obpoet

    But it does beg the question, at what point do we forgive? God is all-forgiving. What are we?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jonathan-Carpenter/1000240898 Jonathan Carpenter

    Do you think the reason why have schmucks like Sanford is because we spend all this Election Time figuring out who should or should not be President yet do not have the slightest idea of who we are voting for in Congress, State and Local government.?

    • chezami

      I think we have schmucks like this because most people, Christians included, constantly say “I’ll do evil that good may come of it.”

  • Mike

    Seems to me that the true role model here is Mrs. Profumo who experienced the ultimate betrayal yet still forgave.

  • Dave

    I am wondering how it happens that these two guys are the “best” that their parties can put forward? Time to reboot?

  • David Davies

    I’m happy that the Dems did not win the seat. I’m sad that Sanford won. Now can somebody please give me my meds?