Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sanford and Ensign: Don't Go Away Mad...

A healthy debate has sprung up based on some recent posts and comments on Choosing a Soundtrack and Right-Side-of-Lowell regarding when politicians' family members are or aren't "fair game" for lampooning and even generally discussing.

That's one of those great topics that will never really go away, and for which there won't be any *right* answers (I guess if there were, it would cease to be an interesting topic).

One issue for which there's no doubt, at least in my mind, is whether it's fair to call into question the actions of the politicians themselves.

Running for, and holding, a public office is a conscious choice. There are of course a lot of downsides (such as the scrutiny) but there are also MANY upsides. When was the last time you saw a former Governor or Senator scrounging for spare change or worrying about how to afford health care? It's a chance to impact history, it's a chance to help steer the debate, it's a chance to give 'em hell on your behalf, or your constituents' behalf, or whatever else it brings.

However, if you're going to take the mantle of leader of your state, your district, or whatever, and the accolades and respect that come with that, you've also got to accept that people are going to pay attention to your behavior.

So can we please just pack away and throw out the pervasive myth that politicians are being held to some impossibly high standard??

No one is saying you can't slurp your soup.

No one is saying you can't pick your nose at a red light.

No one is saying you can't cut a fart between the sheets in the morning.

However, sneaking off to Argentina to be with your mistress during your state's time of budget crisis, or calling yourself a Christian leader and then sleeping with your staffer (who happens to be married to one of your supporters) might fail most people's sniff test of what constitutes unacceptable behavior.

I'll periodically re-do this post, or some variant on it, the next time this much the same fashion as I followed up on Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards, Larry Craig, or David Vitter.

In the meantime, I wish the best for the Sanford and Ensign families as they try to heal and reconcile.

I won't, however, take in any sanctimonious lecturing from either the fallen Governor or the fallen Senator about what is or isn't someone else's business. They can have all the privacy they want, just the same as if they had entered a private legal practice, or business consulting, or whatever else it is that non-politicians do with their time...once they tender resignation letters.


C R Krieger said...

Sort of.  I think that public officials don't rate privacy for their public affairs.  The families, however, deserve some privacy.  While the spouse may, in fact, be a terrible schrew, the assumption should be that the spouse and children didn't do anything wrong here.

I don't mind seeing the SC Governor, Mark Sanford, or the Nevada Senator, John Ensign, twisting in the wind.  I am not interested in seeing the spouse and children suffer.

On the other hand, if the spouse stands up with the perp, then the spouse gets to listen to questions being asked.  Otherwise, it is kind of sick to want to delve into the sufferings of the spouse and children.  For that, visit the library and check out a book.

In the mean time, if they resign, I will be just as happy.  These chaps are an embarrassment, at least to me.

Regards  —  Cliff

Jon and Kate said...

Greg, great call on the "impossibly high standard" blurk.

Cliff, I actually agree that the media should try not to pry into the lives of Sanford's family. That said, it's ridiculous that he feels he has the right to ask them not to. He uses his sons and wife in campaign ads and mailers, thereby politicizing them. It seems a little unfair that he can use his family as he sees fit.

Furthermore, since Sanford was very vocal during the Clinton impeachment and a staunch opposer of gay marriage, I think that it allows, if not an excavation of his personal life, then an examination to see what other hypocrisies are revealed.

The New Englander said...


Thanks for putting those points out there...I think all three of us can agree that the whole situation generally sucks for the ones who are going to suffer but didn't choose to be thrust into the limelight -- the spouse and kids.

There's another point that none of us mentioned, and one I think I'm going to try to put in a letter to the Sun or Globe tomorrow...every time one of these scandals erupts, everyone leaves out the potential security implications of people in high positions doing things that could compromise them.

Our embassy vault in Moscow got compromised because of a "honey trap." There's no reason to think something like that couldn't happen again..


C R Krieger said...

In the mean time, I do wish that Mark Sanford would do the "honorable thing" (no, not the revolver on the table in the room after everyone else walks out).  Just resign.  And Senator Ensign.  Republicans have little to lose at this point and a lot to gain.

Regards  —  Cliff