Why Adultery is Political Suicide

Lessons from the Sanford affair

By now, it's clear that Mark Sanford has about as much of a future in politics as he does in sumo wrestling. His confession of adultery was all it took to demolish any hopes he had of running for president—and perhaps even to force him to step down as governor of South Carolina. But why?

After all, we've had presidents who are revered by posterity despite being unreliable husbands. Hardly anyone even remembers now that Franklin Roosevelt had a mistress, that Dwight Eisenhower may have had one, or that John Kennedy had several.

In the intervening decades, we've also become far more aware of just how common such behavior is among officeholders—not only Gary Hart, Bill Clinton, and Rudy Giuliani but lesser-known mayors, governors, congressmen, and water commissioners. Nowadays, finding that a politician breached his marital vows is about as surprising as learning that a professional athlete failed a drug test. If Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi can overcome their guilt, why not Sanford?

Other politicians have survived—most conspicuously our 42nd president. In fact, you'd think the Monica Lewinsky scandal would have settled the issue once and for all. Democrats found themselves excusing Clinton's conduct, and Republicans who condemned it wound up on the losing side in both public opinion and the impeachment battle.

When it was over, Clinton left office with a 65 percent approval rating. Trust him with your daughter? Not a chance. But your economy? Sure.

George W. Bush, by contrast, finished his term with an approval rating of 22 percent. Trust him with your daughter? Sure. But keep him away from the economy! Both parties could have drawn the same conclusion: Voters have more important things to worry about than their leaders' sex lives.

Yet here we are again, disqualifying a possible White House aspirant because he couldn't keep his pants on. After two decades of high-level political sex scandals, we seem to have reached a consensus that marital fidelity is actually pretty important in a leader. Given the choice, we would prefer peace and prosperity to presidential rectitude. But we really want all three, and we think we can have them.

Call it residual puritanism or an overdose of religion if you want, but most Americans think wedding vows are not to be disdained. In recent decades, sexual mores have gotten considerably more relaxed, with one major exception: extramarital affairs. A 2009 Gallup poll found that 92 percent of us think adultery is "morally wrong"—which presumably means there are a lot more people who commit it than defend it. Only 40 percent of Americans think premarital sex is morally wrong, and only 47 percent say that of homosexual relations.

So Barney Frank's career survived his romp with a male prostitute, while John Edwards' fling with a campaign aide made him politically radioactive. Sex without marriage is OK. Sex in violation of marriage is not.

Why not? Because adultery, unlike a frisky bachelor lifestyle, connotes a reckless dishonesty at odds with our basic notions of integrity. Because it shows a lack of respect for the most important commitment that most of us will ever make. Because it indicates that the adulterer will always place his selfish desires above those who depend on him.

There is a cost to this approach, obviously. It disqualifies some smart, dedicated, and able people merely because they suffer a single flaw—and one that apparently is pretty common among the politically ambitious.

But so what? A talented executive can expect to lose her position for a single act of embezzlement. An outstanding journalist may be banished from his profession for one incident of plagiarism.

Of course, those lapses bear directly on how the offenders do their jobs, which is not the case with a governor who strays. But we don't vote for CEOs or newspaper reporters, which means they don't embody our higher aspirations. Americans think those elected to positions of public trust should have enough regard for the public to conduct themselves in an honest, upright way even in matters unrelated to their official duties.

Is it naive of us to believe that a politician who keeps his commitments to his wife will also keep his commitments to us? Probably. But not as naive as thinking that if he betrays her, he'll treat us any better.

COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

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  • Some Guy||

    Well also the fact that he was flying out of country on the taxpayer dime to see his mistress. Come on, man, you're the governor. You should be able to get a mistress to come to you.

  • :-/||

    he couldn't keep his pants on

    No, Clinton couldn't keep his pants on, and he managed to get elected. Twice. Sanford seems to have had only one dalliance and by all accounts it wasn't just a meaningless fling.

    Almost nobody gets to be president. It's nearly impossible. This episode is only one of a thousand things that could have impeded Sanford's prospects.

  • Phillip Conti||

    I have never liked a single Steve Chapman article.

  • Wicks Cherrycoke||

    Adultery is political suicide; but if you "forget" to pay your income taxes, a federal offense, you can still be Treasury Secretary or a Congressional committee chairman. Is it me, or is there something ass backwards here?

  • MNG||

    Am I the only one who thought that if this guy could have won the white house and established a political dynasty a la the Bushes it could have been referred to as "Sanford and Son?"

  • MJ||

    It's not so much that Dems do not have standards as that their standards are considered unimportant when a Dem breaks them. For instance, men in power hitting on female underlings was the horrible and Something Must be Done to stop it when Clarence Thomas and Bob Packwood were accused of it. When Bill Clinton used the intern pool as his harem, it was invasion of his privacy and not cool to make a fuss over.

  • bendover||

    Both political parties have their own rules as to what disqualifies a candidate from the presidency. One of the rules for the Repub. party is the requirement that you keep your pants on (or at least keep it very discrete). The Dem rule seems that all may be forgiven, as long as you aren't a republican (see Lieberman).

  • ||

    Trust him with your daughter? Not a chance. But your economy? Sure.

    If and only if there's a Republican congress to thwart his evil machinations, you mean?

    Clinton gets far too much credit for the economy during his term.

    -jcr

  • Cabeza de Vaca||

    I think it's naive to believe that governors aren't going to have a mistress. People use to just expect that kind of behavior out of leaders. They would just ignore the behavior, because that's what powerful people do. I wish we could go back to that. Maybe then the press would focus on something important things like federal deficit. Instead of trying to get ratings by reporting the latest political soap opera.

  • ||

    I think it depends upon the circumstances of the adultery. A one night stand is different than a long term affair or repeated philandering. It is not so much the adultery of people like Edwards and Sanford. It is the circumstances around the adultery and how they reveal how deeply strange both men are that does them in. Sanford actually thought he could disapear for a weekend in Argintina without anyone noticing. Then when he was caught says he is going to "pray about it". What is there to pray about? I don't think he was praying when he was banging the Argintine chick.

    The better question is not is adultery a big deal but is it possible to get elected in this country anymore without being a deeply strange person.

  • ||

    For the record, I don't think it is necessarily disqualifying for a politician to keep the odd mistress on the side as long as he is discreet about it, doesn't get her pregnant and his wife doesn't raise a stink. But, our political class seems to be incapable of having normal infidelity.

  • Xeones||

    The better question is not is adultery a big deal but is it possible to get elected in this country anymore without being a deeply strange person.

    Anyone who would WANT that much power is already a deeply twisted human being.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    I think it would help if people who weren't cut out for marital fidelity/monogamy (I'm not so much talking about Sanford so much as people like Spitzer and McGreevey) didn't have to, or feel they had to, get married (or get married to women, or women who weren't also swingin') to get elected to public office.

    Many people are mistrustful of swingin' bachelors (and bachelorettes) perhaps, but if people are up front about this stuff, it doesn't seem like a big deal to me. I thought this was a pretty good article by Chapman.

  • ||

    I had to read all the way to the last sentence to find a decent point.

  • Rich||

    > But not as naive as thinking that if he betrays her, he'll treat us any better.

    Well said, Steve.

  • Xeones||

    Barring the kind of "understanding" Art is talking about, it seems to me that someone who can't be trusted to keep their marriage vows isn't seen as, you know, trustworthy in general.

  • ||

    MNG,

    it could have been referred to as "Sanford and Son?

    Talk about lost opportunities.

    Every time the press asked a question he didn't want to answer, he could clutch his chest and staggered backwards. ""I'm coming to join you, Elizabeth!"

    It could be the first Gino Molinari presidency.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    I'm going to cosign what Rich and Xeones said.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Art - not to get off on a tangent here, but I'll sign as well.

  • Fluffy||

    Bill Clinton did not need to seek office again after his infidelity came to light.

    There had been claims of infidelity during his first primary campaign, but he just lied and Hillary just lied and that was good enough for the electorate.

    I think leaving Bill's special case aside, it's possible to be guilty of infidelity and still get elected. Consider all of our divorced officeholders. I'll bet you almost ALL of those officeholders were guilty of adultery before their divorce. And no one really cares.

    If Sanford had, instead of going to Argentina, announced that he and his wife were getting a divorce, he would have been much better off. Even if evidence surfaced after his divorce that he had been unfaithful, people would just have shrugged. The order in which the facts are revealed seems to be just as important as what the facts are.

  • Tricky Prickears||

    allowing his staff to tell the press corps and the people of South Carolina a story he knew wasn't true, either making them part of the conspiracy or unwittingly making them part of a cover-up.

    As a congressman, Sanford didn't hold back on House Speaker-designate Bob Livingston, R-La., after he admitted an affair in 1998. "The bottom line is Livingston lied," Sanford said at the time during an appearance on CNN. "He lied to his wife."

    During former President Bill Clinton's scandal, Sanford chimed in, "I think it would be much better for the country and for him personally (to resign). ... I come from the business side. ... If you had a chairman or president in the business world facing these allegations, he'd be gone.


    Post and Courier June 29 2009

    When you make comments like this, publicly, there's only one thing to do.... follow your own advice. Maybe the adultery wasn't as bad as the hypocrisy and statements he made regarding others, as if he were sitting in judgment. He committed adultery and lied (the two go hand in hand).

    Of course we hold our elected officials to a higher standard. And that higher standard crosses into personal behavior. But its not just elected officials. Tabloid journalism, in general, makes their living (and a very good one at that) exposing the personal foibles of anyone even remotely famous. Americans seem to have an inborn need to sit in judgment of others. This is most evident in the recent influx of certain "reality based" TV shows, and of course "talk shows" like Jerry Springer ("see honey, we're not nearly as bad as them").

    However, we do seem to softening. Our current and former presidents both admitted to "trying" cocaine. Bush 43 was an admitted alcoholic (why is it OK for the press to ask Obama if he's smoking, and it wasn't OK to ask Bush if he was drinking?)

    As far as marriage and infidelity in general, Art-P.O.G. touched on an interesting point. Marriage is a trap, in some cases. Personally, I think traditional marriage is antiquated. Marriage doesn't seem to be about "undying love" as much as financial and professional necessity. Being a straight bachelor, I think I would prefer a "civil union" to a traditional marriage.

  • ||

    "If Sanford had, instead of going to Argentina, announced that he and his wife were getting a divorce, he would have been much better off. Even if evidence surfaced after his divorce that he had been unfaithful, people would just have shrugged. The order in which the facts are revealed seems to be just as important as what the facts are."

    But fluffy it is hard to dump your wife for the newer model. It costs a lot of money. It is embarassing. Ultimately, guys like Sanford are just weak. They can't stay faithful to their wives but they don't have the balls to just leave them. So instead they try to have it all and convince themselves that the rules don't apply in their case.

    You are right about him being better off divorcing his wife. It might not have said the best things about his personality and values. But it at least would have showed he had some balls.

  • ||

    [quote]If Sanford had, instead of going to Argentina, announced that he and his wife were getting a divorce, he would have been much better off. Even if evidence surfaced after his divorce that he had been unfaithful, people would just have shrugged. The order in which the facts are revealed seems to be just as important as what the facts are.[/quote]

    That's because for many people the act of infidelity is less relevant than the lying about it. Most of us, regardless of political leanings, do our best not to tell bold faced lies in our daily lives. Everyone tells "little white lies", but most people see a deliberate, calulated lie as a serious character flaw. And people still think character counts in our Chief Executives.

  • Abdul||

    So, the average American generally disapproves of adultery.

    What's next from Steve Chapman? Average American generally disapproves of child abuse? Most people dislike the New Coke?

  • Xeones||

    That's because for many people the act of infidelity is less relevant than the lying about it.

    It's not infidelity if your wife says it's ok! Or, better yet, joins in.

  • Ben||

    This story was so boring. Not nearly as hilarious/interesting as Craig, Spitzer, Foley, or Edwards. They make Sanford look normal.

  • Ben||

    Yes, the lying makes it worse. If Clinton, for example, had just fessed up it would have taken the wind out of the Republican's sails and spared the country that stupid impeachment.

  • Spoonman||

    Why nothing on the Honduran coup yet?

  • ||

    The idea that Sanford's infidelity has disqualified him is preposterous. We had 8 years of Bill Clinton. And the GOP just ran a guy last election cycle who's adultery and leaving his wife for a younger woman, when you consider the context (she stood by him through 7 years of captivity, he dumps her because she was disfigured in an accident) was 100X worse than what Sanford did to his wife.

    Sanford's real crime is not sexual, but political. You see it in the press coverage by all the times reporters note how "eccentric" he is. Simply put, the Washington Establishment, and the neocons in particular, are terrified of the guy. They don't know him and they don't trust him. So his infidelity will get treated as a "disqualifying act".

  • ||

    I'm surprised shrike isn't in here foaming at the mouth on this topic. Must be too early in the morning for the meds to have worn off.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    can I pimp a conspiracy theory for a second? Is it a coincidence that two potential 2012 GOPers (the most promising ones) were sunk on adultery scandals within, what, a month of each other?

    If Palin sinks in an adultery scandal or gets a cush ambassadorship, I know what's up.

  • PC||

    If anything I think it makes the guy more interesting to the usual apathetic voter. We always hear about how Republicans are boring white men. This guy not only has an affair, but his affair is in Argentina, he makes all the other cheating pols look like amateurs. If he finishes out his term and all his personal matters get hammered out in the next year I think it helps his chances for 2012, especially if he keeps hammering these big spending measures.

  • Xeones||

    I'm surprised shrike isn't in here foaming at the mouth on this topic. Must be too early in the morning for the meds to have worn off.

    They don't open the computer lab at the institution until 11. Even if he hasn't lost his privileges, i doubt we'll be seeing anything about christfags before then.

  • ||

    I think one of the main problems with politicians' infidelity is that of hypocrisy. I think adultery is wrong but am willing to let an individual's family problems remain private. However the fact that Bill Clinton can sign the Defense of Marriage Act while trampling all over his own marital commitment really gets my ire up. Similarly, I'm not that concerned that Gov. Paterson of New York and his wife appear to have a "flexible" marriage - he's not trying to govern what goes on in my bedroom. However, Sanford ran on "family values" platform, thus making his infidelity absolutely unacceptable.

  • ||

    Politically, the biggest problem I had was that he didn't let his staff know where he was. What happens if there is an emergency and he's missing cause he's sneaking around? It's irresponsibility that should do him in.

  • ||

    John-David, didn't you know? Shrike and Mad Max are both attending the annual Pro Choice/Pro Life Ideologue Reconciliation Convention.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    However, Sanford ran on "family values" platform



    Evidence needed, KTHXBAI.

  • Shuttergeek||

    I think that the article misses two factors.

    First, the hypocrisy. Clinton wasn't known for condemning the sexual activities of others. If you condemn, for example, homosexuals for violating an obscure prohibition from Leviticus while yourself violating one of the ten commandments, you aren't going to come out looking good. Especially if the ones who most believe in the ten commandments are the political base of your party.

    The other factor is that the revelation came at the end of a week of wondering where he was. He was already being portrayed as a bit of a flake. If he'd merely been caught in a local hotel he might have a (very slim) chance of political survival. But he apparently thought he could disappear to Argentina for a week and get away with it, which makes him and adulterer AND a fool.

  • ||

    TAO, as far as I am concerned, your conspiracy theories are always welcome. As for the one you are pimping, who gains?

  • ||

    Spoonman, if the military is acting on orders from their supreme court, is it really a coup?

  • ||

    Hey, is anybody naive enough to think that Ronnie Reagan didn't fool around on Jane Wyman? Did that hurt him?

  • ||

    James Ard,

    The Honduran Constitution says that any politician who so much as proposes staying in office to long has to be immediately removed from office. (I didn't know the Hondurans were so enlightened.) The leftist jackass running the country proposed a referendum allowing himself to stay in office. The Congress and the Supreme Court read the document and said "yep, this guy needs to go". The President refused and so they called out the military to enforce the law. That sounds like government working to me. I guess BO wants to be able to make an argument when they have to call out the Old Guard to drag him out of the Whitehouse in 2013.

  • ||

    Sanford was just a hapless victim of the Jeb! juggernaut. Not the first, and certainly not the last.

  • Xeones||

    Yo P -- the Jebbernaut... or the Huckernaut?

  • ||

    Re: Honduras (and Iran):

    Has Obama met an authoritarian try to hold onto power illegally that he doesn't like?

  • ||

    I must confess that I find the allegations that he took the trip on the taxpayers dime (something that I haven't seen in any of the stories but keeps getting brought up by some Hit'n'Runners) much more disturbing than the affair.

    Sanford was just a hapless victim of the Jeb! juggernaut.



    I dunno, Brooks, I think the country's about had its fill of Bushes.

  • ||

    R C, When your entire foreign policy rests on the idea that you can talk your enemies into becoming friends, you can't let little things like legitimacy get in the way.

  • ||

    "R C, When your entire foreign policy rests on the idea that you can talk your enemies into becoming friends, you can't let little things like legitimacy get in the way."

    It is rested on that and hopes of fullfilling the leftist dreams of his deadbeat father. I think there needs to be a rule in the future that no person who has a fucked up relationship with a deadbeat father should be allowed to be President.

  • ||

    John, those were Bill Ayers dreams of Obama's father.

  • Xeones||

    I think there needs to be a rule in the future that no person who has a fucked up relationship with a deadbeat father should be allowed to be President.

    Better yet, there should be some kind of, i don't know, foundational document for the government of this country that strictly limits the amount of power said government can wield, thus constraining whatever fucked-up individuals get hold of that power. If only there was such a thing. They could call it... i don't know, a Constitution or something. What do you think?

  • ||

    Here's a link, someone please inform on how to tag a clickable link, thanks.
    http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/06/breakthrough_on_the_authorship_1.html

  • ||

    I think the country's about had its fill of Bushes.

    Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American electorate.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    LM - the Administration. By bumping off any rational, intelligent people who can articulate themselves against the policies of the Administration in the 2012 campaign. The Administration and the Dems desperately want it to be Palin in 2012, so they're eliminating the competition. She's winning by default.

  • Spoonman||

    Spoonman, if the military is acting on orders from their supreme court, is it really a coup?

    I don't think so, but I was looking forward to the argument.

  • ||

    "If only there was such a thing. They could call it... i don't know, a Constitution or something. What do you think?"

    It seems to be working ok for the Hondurans. They just got rid of some lefist lous. Maybe we should give this thing a try.

  • ||

    "brotherben | June 24, 2009, 2:43pm | #

    The Obamachine rolls over another future opponent. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA"


    Hey! That was my conspiracy theory!

  • Xeones||

    It seems to be working ok for the Hondurans. They just got rid of some lefist lous. Maybe we should give this thing a try.

    I mean, a Constitution wouldn't keep the leftist lice out of office, but they wouldn't be able to do too much. If only our founding fathers had had the foresight to draft a Constitution!

  • ||

    "Here's a link, someone please inform on how to tag a clickable link, thanks."

    If only someone could come up with a tool that could search the internet for relevant information based on the text entered. They would make a ton of money. A google of money, even.

    Also, this new "Bill Ayers wrote Obama's books" theory going around is my new favorite right-wing fever dream. You guys might want to pace yourselves. You've got 3.5 years left. Don't use up all of the good ones too fast.

  • Zeb||

    Everyone should know by now that to have a shot at the white house you have to be a liar and a hypocrite. So I think it doesn't matter at all what this guy did. This should be between him and his wife and that is all. Why don't people in his position just say "this is a private matter and I won't answer any questions about it"?

  • ||

    The problem is in the amendments. They have allowed every whackaloon in this country to vote including folks like me. The landed gentry had it right and then someone went and boogered it all up.

  • ||

    I no more believe Obama could write a book than he could deliver a speech without a teleprompter.

  • ||

    Why don't people in his position just say "this is a private matter and I won't answer any questions about it"?

    Better yet, why not, "Hah! If you think I gave her a good fucking, wait 'til I get through with YOU!"

  • ||

    just saw sanford's mistress in pictures - she's old and not too pretty. not gonna play well.

  • Mike M.||

    There had been claims of infidelity during his first primary campaign, but he just lied and Hillary just lied and that was good enough for the electorate.

    I remember when that FBI agent quit in disgust and wrote a book about what he saw going on inside the White House with his own eyes.

    He was of course mercilessly attacked by Clinton's press lackeys as being an opportunist and a liar, but as we know he was eventually vindicated in spades.

  • __||

    she's old and not too pretty

    More sympathy for Sanford, then.

  • ||

    More sympathy for Sanford, then.

    You don't get sympathy for banging ugly chicks. Except from ugly chicks.

  • Rich||

    Another hypothesis that gets often floated on these occasions is that sexual, um, prowess is an essential part of the physiological/psychological makeup of a "leader". Something like,
    "I can no more keep it in my pants than I can not not help the people."

  • ||

    You don't get sympathy for banging ugly chicks. Except from ugly chicks.

    Hey, the ugly chick demographic damn near delivered the Dem nomination to Hillary last year. Don't underestimate it.

  • ||

    Another hypothesis that gets often floated on these occasions is that sexual, um, prowess is an essential part of the physiological/psychological makeup of a "leader".

    Ah, yes. A leader is someone who fuck everybody he can, any way he can.

  • B||

    "Has Obama met an authoritarian try to hold onto power illegally that he doesn't like?"

    Amazing how Obama immediately condemns the removal of a man from office who tried to violate the Constitution and effectively install himself as a dictator, yet it takes him a week to condemn the slaughter of Iranian protesters in the streets.

    This guy is no Jimmy Carter. He is ten times worse.

  • ||

    "You don't get sympathy for banging ugly chicks. Except from ugly chicks."

    I disagree. A public figure, to the average voter, is imo more forgiveable if the woman he cheats with isn't a serious upgrade. He gets extra points for falling in love with her. I am in no way trying to condone his behaviour.

    As someone upthread suggested, he should have came out and announced a divorce and then announced his newfound love. By doing it all Jimmy Swaggart style, he just kinda cocked it up all the way around.

  • ||

    Hey, the ugly chick demographic damn near delivered the Dem nomination to Hillary last year. Don't underestimate it.

    NOT OK!

  • ||

    From the little I have heard I believe this is what happened. His marriage was stale. The closeness was gone. This other woman, with whom he had been friends for years, became his sounding board for his marital woes. He found in her the empathy and deep friendship that was gone from his marriage. Over time they grew very close and it became sexual. He fell very sappily in love with a woman that was filling the needs he felt were missing from his marriage. It happens all the time. I don't believe he was just out gettin a nut to prove his sexual prowess.

  • Ben||

    I like how Johns reaction to a military coup is "oh boy, sounds like a good idea! Why can't we do this to Obama?"

    And they say the modern day Republican Party isn't filled with fringe Bircher idiots!

  • ||

    Ben you are an idiot who apparently can't read. It wasn't a coup. It was the military acting at the behest of the Congress and the Supreme Court throwing out a politician who refused to leave office even though he was legally obligated to do so. That is not a coup by any means.

    Are all liberal retarded or just you?

  • Rich||

    brotherben, I think your analysis is probably correct. However, the way in which the Gov handled the stale marriage -- in particular, disappearing -- is more problematic. Please let me rephrase my hypothesis comment: anybody remember Chap, uh, chappa ...?

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Are all liberal retarded or just you?

    Gotta defend John, but this R.C.'z Law case here is delicious.

  • Ben||

    John, he proposed a referrendum to chane the Constitution to extend his term. Instead of letting people vote on it, the military forces him out of office.

    But don't worry, John, Obama won't do anything to stop it. Your tool of the oligarchy will get
    to stay in power.
    Privately, Obama is delighted with the outcome I'm sure.

    He's just another wing of the Property Party, after all, and the corporate interests he is beholden to love this.

    I'm an anarchist, not a liberal, for what its worth.

  • ||

    "John, he proposed a referrendum to chane the Constitution to extend his term. Instead of letting people vote on it, the military forces him out of office."

    Ben, the Constitution says that any sitting politician who proposes a referendum extending their term must resign. They wrote that provision in because of the country and the region's experience with despots corrupting the Democratic process. The Consititution makes it so only those not holding office can propose extending the term of sitting politicians. This guy violated that and the Constitution required him to resign. He refused. It is not a coup when the military acts to enforce the law at the behest of two of the three branches of government.

    Stop name calling and look at the facts. It wasn't a coup.

  • ||

    I disagree. A public figure, to the average voter, is imo more forgiveable if the woman he cheats with isn't a serious upgrade. He gets extra points for falling in love with her.

    Ugh - I threw up a little reading this. What guy is going to respect another guy for falling in love with some gangly geezer. What a sap. I agree it garners sympathy - but only from a demographic that "benefits" from the storyline - ie. ugly chicks worldwide, unite!

    Pretty girls think it's pathetic when their men cheat on them for uglies.

  • Ben||

    Silly me. I thought when the President commits an illegal act, you impeach him and have a trial.

    I guess in 1999 Gingrich should have sent in the army to remove Clinton instead.

  • Robert||

    So...Chapman's saying...that because people were fed up forgiving previous politicians' pecadillos, they're coming down hard on this guy? Like it was his bad luck to be on the end of the line?

  • Granite26||

    I'm a big fan of the 'People want power because power = chicks' theory of politicians and adultery.

    I have read a few places(yahoo, I think) that he used government funds for the trips, but now that he'd been caught, he was planning to pay them back, no harm no foul style, which is just disgusting.

  • Ben||

    Also, their Constitution prohibits "usurping government by force of arms" (roughly translating here) as well.

  • ||

    "Silly me. I thought when the President commits an illegal act, you impeach him and have a trial."

    We only have an impeachment because our Constitution says we do. Their Constitution doesn't have that. Theirs sayd if you do x, in this case propose extending your term, you are immediately removed from office. That is their right to have a Constitution like that and there is nothing unreasonable about it. Again, the military was doing nothing but enforcing the law at the beshest of two of the three branchs of government. There is no way to call it a coup unless you really are retarded.

  • ||

    "Also, their Constitution prohibits "usurping government by force of arms" (roughly translating here) as well."

    So does ours. But if we had a President who refused to leave office after he was no longer leagally entitled to be in office, the Congress and the Supreme Court would have every right to call out the military to remove the President from office. In fact, it would be their duty to do so. Otherwise, our Democracy would fail.

  • ||

    Ben,

    The military swears alligence to defend the Constitution, not the President. It is easy to forget that with there being a head of a cult of personality in the Whitehouse. But it is true. The Honduran military no doubt took an oath to defend the Constitution. When removing the President required that, and they were requested to do so by lawful authorities, it was their duty to remove the unlawful President from office.

  • Ben||

    John you might want to read the Honduran Constitution. There is an impeachment provision. The fact that their Congress didn't use it tells me their case against him didn't have much merit.

  • Ben||

    This whole episode illustrates very nicely how capitalist oligarchs throw aside their lip service to "the rule of law" when their power is truly threatened.

  • ||

    How can it not have much merit? Either he called for the illegal referendum or he didn't. You admit above he did. That means that he is removed from office immediately. Considering the history of Democracy in Latin America, you can understand why they would have such a provision. Making yourself "President for life" is a typical MO of Latin American dictators. They wrote the provision specifically to keep people from doing that. Regardless, it is not a coup when two of the three branches of government participate.

  • Ben||

    John, if it was such a slam dunk, why not impeach him and put him on trial in the Senate?

  • ||

    Were Sanford a Democrat, this little affair would be considered a modest résumé-enhancer. As it is, he is just the rankest of amateurs.

    But by no means can an affair be considered the biggest boost to a Democrat's career. More colorful actions like rape and harassment (William Jefferson Clinton), being a KKK Grand Wizard (Byrd), and even murder (Ted Kennedy) offer the best chance to boost your status among the Democrat elite.

    A mere zipper problem is no guarantee of political success these days. Competition is too keen. Congress and Hollywood is hip-deep in lefty misogynists, and the aspiring Democrat must go above and beyond the call just to stand out.

  • Ben||

    You know what is also an MONTH in Latin America?

    An American/Corporate backed military coup overthrowing a democratically elected person who dares to question why, say, United Fruit should run the country, and installing a right wing strong man in his place. See: Chile, 1972.

    I bet it will come out in later years that Obama and his CIA planned this whole episode.

  • Ben||

    Should be "M.O", not month.

  • ||

    Are all liberal retarded or just you?

    Gotta defend John, but this R.C.'z Law case here is delicious.


    Technically, this illustrates joe'z Memorial Law, which states that any post impugning the intelligence of another poster will contain a typo (e.g., "get a brain, moran!")

  • ||

    An American/Corporate backed military coup

    Its a funny kind of coup that enforces the constitution by removing a President attempting to subvert the constitution, and replaces him via the constitutionally prescribed means.

  • ABC||

    Would have some sympathy for the guy if he hadn't used a tax-payer funded trade junket to get some Argentine amor.

  • ||

    domoarrigato, just cause you're one of the elitist pretty people, doesn't mean we all are. shheeeeeeesh.

  • Ben||

    RC Dean, the Constituttionally prescribed means in this case is impeachment and a public trial in the Senate. Read their goddamn Constitution.

    Not that it matters. The interests that control every State (and not, don't kid yourself, it isn't "the people") throw aside Constitutions whenever they want, using it as a tool only when it suits them.

  • ||

    Spoonman, if the military is acting on orders from their supreme court, is it really a coup?

    No. It's a constitutional crisis. What would our military do if POTUS ordered them to ignore SCOTUS and congress?

    What would we want them to do?
    ____________________________________________________________

    James Ard | June 29, 2009, 10:10am | #

    Here's a link, someone please inform on how to tag a clickable link, thanks.
    http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/06/breakthrough_on_the_authorship_1.html


    Here is a tutorial I found useful two or so years ago.

  • ||

    domoarrigato, just cause you're one of the elitist pretty people, doesn't mean we all are. shheeeeeeesh.

    It ain't like that, bro-ben, I'm just analyzing how I think most people would look at it. The chick is at best a 5, though she might have been a 7 when she was younger. At least she's skinny. There's nothing that says "the emperor has no clothes" like banging chubbers. And that's coming from someone who is well known on this board as being a chubby chaser - I'm not a governor. If I was, I would have appearances to keep up...

  • ||

    "John, if it was such a slam dunk, why not impeach him and put him on trial in the Senate?"

    Because he was ignoring the lawful orders of the Congress and the SC. Here is what happened

    "That Mr. Zelaya acted as if he were above the law, there is no doubt. While Honduran law allows for a constitutional rewrite, the power to open that door does not lie with the president. A constituent assembly can only be called through a national referendum approved by its Congress.

    But Mr. Zelaya declared the vote on his own and had Mr. Chávez ship him the necessary ballots from Venezuela. The Supreme Court ruled his referendum unconstitutional, and it instructed the military not to carry out the logistics of the vote as it normally would do.

    The top military commander, Gen. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, told the president that he would have to comply. Mr. Zelaya promptly fired him. The Supreme Court ordered him reinstated. Mr. Zelaya refused.

    Calculating that some critical mass of Hondurans would take his side, the president decided he would run the referendum himself. So on Thursday he led a mob that broke into the military installation where the ballots from Venezuela were being stored and then had his supporters distribute them in defiance of the Supreme Court's order.

    The attorney general had already made clear that the referendum was illegal, and he further announced that he would prosecute anyone involved in carrying it out. Yesterday, Mr. Zelaya was arrested by the military and is now in exile in Costa Rica."

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124623220955866301.html

    The President was completely out of control. The Hondurans to their credit acted to save their democracy.

  • ChrisO||

    Another hypothesis that gets often floated on these occasions is that sexual, um, prowess is an essential part of the physiological/psychological makeup of a "leader". Something like,
    "I can no more keep it in my pants than I can not not help the people."


    I think it's a little different. The kind of person who gravitates toward electoral office is both an extrovert and has a deep-seated need for shows of affection from others. In effect, you could say that the infidelity is baked in to the personality type, since it is both easy for such a person to accomplish and necessary to ward off their insecurity.

    Personality-wise, a politician is essentially a cross between a trial lawyer and a used-car salesman, so I don't see why unappealing personal choices are so surprising.

  • ||

    Yes, I really haven't heard too many people emphasize the public funds aspect of this debacle. To my mind, that's far more relevant than the man's infidelities.

  • JB||

    "...which means they don't embody our higher aspirations..."

    Speak for yourself. I tend to hold politicians in low esteem. Why respect someone who eats shit and gets off on it?

  • Ben||

    If the Presdient is acting illegaly, you impeach him.

    Unless you don't REALLY believe in the Constitution, or "rule of law", and just use it as a smokescreen for something else. Nah, couldn't be!

    How much you wanna bet the CIA was in on this and Obama is chatting up our new corporate strongman as we speak? Any rhetoric to the contrary is for his useful idiot "liberal" hipster base.

  • ||

    "If the Presdient is acting illegaly, you impeach him."

    He was having mobs of thugs attack military bases. That is how despots gain power. They come and break your skull while pleading that everyone else calm down and obey the law. The Honduran military had no choice. It was either that or let Honduras turn into Venezuala.

  • ||

    "If the Presdient is acting illegaly, you impeach him."

    So if the President is out assaulting people and attacking military bases, the only remedy is impeachment. The authorities can't arrest him and make sure he doesn't do any harm? That is nuts.

  • Ben||

    And thanks, John, but I know better than to trust reporting from the corporate mouth piece that is the WSJ.

  • ||

    domoarrigato, all I was saying is that the average schlub sees it as more disgusting when the guy bangs a supermodel while his average looking wife gets shamed.

  • ||

    Compare:

    Eliot Spitzer (bangs a smoking hooker, shaming pretty sypathetic wife)

    reaction: stupid, buuuut, she was hawt, and the mrs is hitting the wall...

    Clinton (bangs chubber, shaming bitchy shrewish wife)

    reaction: Stupid, you can see why he would need something, but a bit sad that he didn't do better.

    Edwards (bangs pretty but likely batshit insane chick, shaming sweet chubby cancer stricken wife)

    Reaction: The bastard, she's got cancer! I like her!

    Sanford (bangs elderly chick who looks like his wife, shaming pretty, smart, former investment banker wife who ran one of his campaigns)

    Reaction: whats the point? he fell in love? please...

    It's all about the relative sympathy in the public mind. right now, the press has no backstory narrative for either of these chicks, so public opinion is confused. Depending on if the press makes the wife or the mistress look sympathetic, it could go either way.

  • ||

    RC Dean, the Constituttionally prescribed means in this case is impeachment and a public trial in the Senate. Read their goddamn Constitution.

    Link to an English translation, and I will.

    My only point was that I don't think it is entirely appropriate to call this a coup.

    Given that the President had instigated violence in the streets in pursuing a clearly unconstitutional agenda, I'm not sure that a more expeditious approach to his removal was inappropriate. When the legislature and the judiciary agree on a means of removal in a crisis like this, and act to preserve the existing constitutional order, I'm not inclined to be as worried about the means by which they acted, frankly.

  • Ben||

    IOW, RC Dean, it is ok to violate a Constitution when it is expedient to do so?

    Then you don't give a rats ass about their Constitution anymore than their President does, especially since it explixitly prohibits the military from changing the government, whether under the orders of any branch of government or not.

    This is as illegal as if Congress and the President together ordered the arrest of the entire Supreme Court.

  • ||

    If the Presdient is acting illegaly, you impeach him.



    I say, Ben, are you an expert on Honduran constitutional law?

    I mean really, why do you assume that Honduran law calls for impeachment?

  • Ben||

    Uh, maybe cause I used something called Google and read the Constitution?

  • ||

    Never mind, question answered, rereading posts and seeing the one I missed.

    Be nice if someone would post the relevant passage with an English translation though.

  • ||

    By the way I'm agnostic on this matter. I fully admit to not knowing enough about it to have an opinion.

  • ||

    Ben,

    If the president had been sucessful in overturning constituional authority by extending her term and usurping the power of the other branches, would that qualify as a coup?

    There is an internal constitutional power conflict, only one side can win. Both sides act extra-legally. that doesn't necesarily mean both are coup attempts. There is only one legitimate government, and an attempt to overthrow it is a coup. It looks like the president was the first to act extra-legally, therefore his actions are the coup attempt against the legitimate constitutionally ordained system. No?

  • ||

    her term
    you know what i mean

  • Ben||

    DO, if the President acted illegally, he should be impeached and tried, If he refuses to leave office, the police can arrest him. The police. NOT military.

    The results of the military getting involved in the political system never, ever end well for the people (Napoleonic France, 1953 Iran, 1972 Chile, 1980s Brazil, I could go on).

  • Ben||

    Lest anyone get the wrong impression, I'm not a Chavista. State Socialism is just as toxic to true human freedom and well-being as corporate capitalism is. But both sides throw aside the "rule of law" when it suits them, and don't kid yourselves otherwise.

  • Cabeza de Vaca||

    "Lest anyone get the wrong impression, I'm not a Chavista. State Socialism is just as toxic to true human freedom and well-being as corporate capitalism is. But both sides throw aside the "rule of law" when it suits them, and don't kid yourselves otherwise."

    Then why are you picking sides? The fact is the only people that really understand what is going on are the people of Honduras. Let them figure it out themselves. Everyone else should(but won't)stay out of it.

  • Ben||

    Cabeza, not picking sides. I'm not the one using feel good but meaningless terms like "restoring democracy". Just discussing the situation.

  • Dana H.||

    If a politician lies to his wife, why should I think he'll tell the truth to me? This is the most basic reason that I don't want an adulterer for president.

  • ||

    If a politician lies to his wife, why should I think he'll tell the truth to me?

    You shouldn't - whether he liese to his wife or not. There are two types of politicians - those who lie to their wives and the public, and those that won't lie to their wives.

  • Ben||

    Being a sick pathological liar is practically a requirement to be par of the state.

  • ||

    Ben,

    i agree with your point about the police being the preferred method of enforcing the rule of law.

    more basically, however, a Constitutional form of government generally asserts (our does explicitly) a basis in natural law. That the rights and powers guaranteed serve the higher law of mans natural rights. If a constitutionally formed government violates the natural rights of it's citizens, it is illegitimate, and violent actions taken to prevent or depose it are not illegal.

  • d||

    God. Chapman is a prude.

    And WHY did the only decent libertarian-leaning presidential hopeful who had a snowball's chance in hell of making it to the white house in 2012 have to go and get caught? WHYYYYYYYYY?!!! Why me. I'm going to have to drink this one away.

    Jindal, save us. Maybe let Sanford be Secretary of Something Important.

  • Mike||

    We need a study. Are politicians who have affairs more or less likely to:

    1. Renege campaign promises?
    2. Engage in corruption?
    3. Have free-market policies?
    ect.

    I'd like to see the results, then decide if it should matter.

    PS: If Obama tried to install himself as a socialist dictator for life like Chavez, and the military stepped in to stop it, you wouldn't get many complaints from me.

  • Marian Kechlibar||

    Maybe it is cultural deformation (Czechs are notoriously suspicious about their politicians), but I fully expect any politician to lie to me whenever he/she/it sees fit.

    I do not vote for politicians because of trust; I trust none of them. The only thing I find relevant is their past record of actions. If it is long enough, it shows some reliable patterns.

    And that is why I also would not prefer Obama to be the Czech president - his record is short and basically consists of voting "present".

  • ||

    IOW, RC Dean, it is ok to violate a Constitution when it is expedient to do so?

    I don't know that what was done violates the Honduran Constitution. Is it illegal to arrest a President under that Constitution? Is it illegal to have the military do so, when directed by the legislature and judiciary? Is impeachment specified as the sole remedy for acting against a President who has violated the law?

    If a legislature and judiciary are faced with a situation where narrow adherence to their constitutional roles will result in the executive overthrowing that constitution, are you saying they fiddle with paperwork while Rome burns?

  • ||

    Senor Sanford was considered by the GOP establishment to be a viable candidate for POTUS, or at least one they could discuss and still keep a straight face.

    The salient issue in all this is that he appears to be an erratic and irresponsible looney tune and a not very bright one at that. For heaven's sake, it didn't take four years and $40 million to find out about his extramarital activities. Short of hiring a skywriter to fly over Columbia, he could hardly have been more blatant.

    Either he was begging to be outed or he was deluded enough to believe no one was going to notice his disappearance. A masochist or a dumb bunny, take your pick.

  • ChrisO||

    Senor Sanford was considered by the GOP establishment to be a viable candidate for POTUS, or at least one they could discuss and still keep a straight face.

    I hadn't read that much about Sanford, but what I saw about him was always tinged with a bit of oddness. Not that there's anything wrong with oddness, but it doesn't tend to pull in big electoral votes.

  • ||

    "Why not? Because adultery, unlike a frisky bachelor lifestyle, connotes a reckless dishonesty at odds with our basic notions of integrity. Because it shows a lack of respect for the most important commitment that most of us will ever make. Because it indicates that the adulterer will always place his selfish desires above those who depend on him."


    No. No. It's political suicide because the vast majority of women will not vote for a cheater. Without the female vote, you will never get nominated (DEM) or never get elected (REP). Clinton assiduously denied his extra-marital acts until after the '96 election. The truth was revealed as a consequence of depos in the Paula Jones case circa 98. Thus, even Bill Clinton never won an election after admitting adultery. FDR & JFK's dalliances were kept secret until after their deaths.

    Women voters hate cheaters.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    It's not so much that Dems do not have standards as that their standards are considered unimportant when a Dem breaks them.


    Depends on whom the Dem is.

    Governor Eliot Spitzer was thrown under the bus.

  • Just a gigilo||

    Cheetahs?

  • Syd Henderson||

    Having an affair need not in itself kill a political career. If you don't think people in 1992 didn't believe Clinton had had affairs, you don't remember the campaign that well.

    What kills a career is not just the affair but looking ridiculous. It's hard to run for President when you've made yourself a laughingstock.

  • MJ||

    Okay, the President of Honduras violated their constitution in such a way that justifies his removal from office? The Honduran legislative and judicial branches use extra-constitutional means to remove him from office? President Obama condemns the actions of the Honduran legislature and judiciary, while apparently saying little or nothing about the Honduran president's actions. Why?

    Does Obama think he's seeing in Honduras how his term is going to play out?

  • Craig||

    Chapman has missed the mark, again. If Sanford were a liberal Democrat, this wouldn't be a career ender. Because he's a holier-than-thou conservative Republican, he doesn't look like someone making an understandable human mistake, he looks like a hypocrite. But then, he set himself up that way.

    It's really too bad, since he was the most mainstream of the possible limited government presidential contenders for 2012.

  • ||

    There was talk but if Clinton had been caught outright before he was elected, he'd never have gotten close to the nomination, much less win the general.

    Add to that conservatives generally are supposed to be supporters of the sanctity of marriage, and what he did comes across as a hypocrite too.
    Which of course he is.

  • ||

    "I think that the article misses two factors.

    First, the hypocrisy. Clinton wasn't known for condemning the sexual activities of others. If you condemn, for example, homosexuals for violating an obscure prohibition from Leviticus while yourself violating one of the ten commandments, you aren't going to come out looking good. Especially if the ones who most believe in the ten commandments are the political base of your party.

    The other factor is that the revelation came at the end of a week of wondering where he was. He was already being portrayed as a bit of a flake. If he'd merely been caught in a local hotel he might have a (very slim) chance of political survival. But he apparently thought he could disappear to Argentina for a week and get away with it, which makes him and adulterer AND a fool."

    Agreed. When your "morality" has little to nothing to do with your policy positions, it's not a big deal when it's revealed you have none. When you base nearly your entire platform (as Republicans have)on your moral superiority, it's obviously going to be a bigger deal when you're shown to have no morals.

    To me the more incriminating aspect of this entire scenario is what a damned fool Sanford has been shown to be. You're a governor and you're on the short list to be your party's next Presidential nominee, and you disappear for a week for a South American fling over Father's Day? Really? You've either got to be really stupid, or extremely arrogant, to think you can get away with that. I'm sure it's both, but the stupid statements (eg. "I'm trying to fall back in love with my wife") since this happened seem to indicate he's pretty damned dumb.

  • ||

    Adultery may or may not be political suicide in the future, as Americans become more sophisticated (or cynical if you will) about the private lives of politicians.

    But turning yourself into a national laughing stock will always be a career ender. If poor Senor Sanford had carefully thought out a strategy for getting caught and then looking as much like a hormone-crazed teenager as humanly possible, he could hardly have been more thorough and effective.

    And, sorry. After two decades of pontificating about the private lives of others, Republicans have made their bed and they better stay out of it.

  • abercrombie milano||

    My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I'm sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won't get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there's more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I'm not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It's just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight...the Bible's books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on...the Bible's books were written by people with very different mindsets

  • Scarpe Nike Italia||

    is good

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