Wednesday, June 24, 2009
The talk over the last few days was starting to get on my nerves. First it was, "Where is Mark Sanford?" Then when he reappeared, it became, "Where was Mark Sanford?" Well, today we got the answer, and it was not the answer I wanted to hear. My heart aches today due to the news of his affair with an Argentinian woman.
I ache for his wife, his four sons--and for him. I ache that a man, who has been a strong public servant, has fallen into a trap, bringing great pain upon his family. Read here his wife's powerful comments about his affair, her love for him, her willingness to forgive while maintaining her self-respect, and her dependence on God. If her words don't tug at your heart strings, nothing will.
Mark Sanford is--or was--considered by some to be one of the frontrunners for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Like Sarah Palin, he is both a social and fiscal conservative, and like Palin, he rejected stimulus money until legislators chose to go around him anyway. Clearly, he is no wimp and has taken unpopular stands because the cause was right. But today he resigned as Chairman of the Republican Governor's Association, although he has not stepped down as governor--at least not yet.
This is the question I've heard posed several times today: Does character matter for politicians? People are asking whether or not Americans really care what someone does in his private life if he is serving well publicly. My answer comes without hesitation: Yes, character matters. I said it when Bill Clinton brought the office of president to a new low, and I say it now. Whether you're a Republican or Democrat, right is right. Granted, society is harder on Republicans because we are the ones who more often talk about morals, and standards, and right, and wrong, and this affair does hurt us at an already shaky time. Is it fair that we are held to a higher standard? You decide. I will say this: If you're going to say it, people are going to look for it. True, Democrats get a lot more slack concerning their sins and flaws than do conservatives, and perhaps that comes with a lot of pressure, but it is what it is, and God help all of us--regardless of party affiliation--to seek to do the right thing.
I have said many times that America needs people of integrity to lead. Don't get me wrong. I know nobody's perfect. People make mistakes. People fail. Only God does it all right all the time. But it's time for people to do whatever they have to do to stand up for what they say they're about. Whatever you've got to do, do that. You've got a weakness? Welcome to the club! Know what it is, work to overcome it, and in the meantime, avoid situations that accentuate it. Hey, if you've got a thing for a woman in Argentina, don't go to Argentina! That's a start. I'm not pointing my finger or making fun of Governor Sanford. Like I said, my heart aches for his situation. I just know that it is important that people live up to what they say they believe in, that they represent their states, their nations, and themselves with a sense of responsibility and integrity. After all, when the crowd fades and the cameras are gone, you're the one looking in the mirror. No one has to live with you but you. And, ultimately, the only one you have to answer to is God.
It's possible that the governor can bounce back, but my gut says that if values do matter to the masses of people, this is probably the end of serious Sanford 2012 talk. You all know where I stand on 2012 anyway. I'm not, after all, the Media Director and New York State Organizer of the 2012 Draft Mark Committee. I'm a part of the 2012 Draft Sarah Committee. Having said that, however, I take absolutely no pleasure in the potential political demise of one who could have been a strong opposition to Governor Palin in any 2012 run for national office. There are some things more important than politics. They're called family, and faith, and character.
I am praying for the Sanford family.