Robert Stacy McCain’s piece on Mark Sanford’s attempted political rehabilitation is well done. It notes that he has a solidly conservative challenger (now endorsed, by the way, by Rick Santorum). It does not, however, note the full range of Sanford’s past problems.
Look, sometimes men stray. At least two GOP presidential nominees in the past 20 years had records of infidelity. Sometimes subsequent behavior can be redemptive. But in this case, it wasn’t just that Sanford was an adulterer. First, he was completely AWOL –un-findable, even by his staff — in complete contradiction of his duties as chief executive of his state and head of its National Guard. Second, he had a history of rather strange behavior on several fronts even before his “Appalachian Trail” incident. Third, when Stacy notes that Sanford was “censured by the state legislature,” he doesn’t mention that the censure wasn’t just for illicit sex, but for ethics violations. Sure, Sanford has an excuse for why the Legislature with his own party in the majority still found ethics violations despite what Sanford claims are solid explanations for his alleged infractions, the simple fact remains that he walked so close to the line so often, in commingling or seeming to commingle personal expenses with state expenses, that he was almost bound to be adjudged to have gone over the line at least once.
Look, the man is charming. Very charming. He’s also a true fiscal conservative. But the full record as governor is one of almost unsurpassing strangeness. Should name recognition in a special-election primary make so much difference that it overcomes such strangeness? It’s certainly a question worth pondering.