The Sanford Crack-Up: Important, Not Important, Who Knows


Political smarty Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic presents the case for, and against, the national political significance of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's adultery scandal. I think "against" wins,  but here are selections from both sides of the argument:

It Will Matter:

He's the latest in a line of potential GOP presidential candidates to fall victim to his personal appetites. This means that the GOP primary electorate is more likely to choose a nominee with stellar, unimpeachable family-values, socially conservative credentials, which means that anyone who evinces moderation hasn't got a shot…..

The GOP loses one of its most articulate anti-spending, anti-deficit spokespersons. Sanford's machinations may not have been popular, but he articulated a view of the world that many conservatives share….

This may be a tipping point: a few examples of conservative moralists who cheat on their wives (Vitter, Ensign) can be, perhaps, accepted as evidence that human beings are normal. But at some point, the liberal talking point about GOP hypocrisy starts to have the ring of truth….

It Won't Matter:

the GOP is at a market bottom already. The public's image of the party can't really go down much further….

Most Americans probably didn't know who Sanford was before today, so it'll hard to attribute any massive change in politics to his sudden emergence…..

Sanford was never a viable 2012 candidate because of his eccentricity; to put him in the same category as a Mitt Romney or a Sarah Palin misjudges the impact he would have had.

Reason has blogged every step of this grim and silly little morality play, here and here.