Does it surprise anyone at all that politicians do — well, anything that they do? It amuses me to no end when our elected officials are caught breaking laws or bending rules or doing things that only five minutes before they were screaming about not doing. Absolute power, it is said, corrupts absolutely; and while I don’t think that every leader ever has given in to their temptations, I just can’t believe that any of this behavior (or worse) is at all unexpected.
To any Democrats out there ranting and raving about how horrible South Carolina’s Governor Mark Sanford is — sit down and shut up. Remember Clinton, and how he did, oh, pretty much the same thing? And, hey, we all cheered because here’s a middle aged guy getting hummers from the young intern. Who could blame him?
It’s not about politics, really. There are legitimate questions raised — Did Sanford spend tax dollars to get to Argentina? Did Clinton lie under oath? — but if you take legal questions and ramifications out of the equation, you’re left with one thing: human nature.
Look, if you’re powerful — I don’t care if you’re a mayor of a small town or President of the United States — there will be people out there who are willing to trade sex for favors, and women that are attracted to your office. There will be temptation, and hopefully — if we elected you to lead us — you’re of strong enough character to resist. Ditto when you have the opportunity to steal, or do anything else “wrong.”
But let’s be honest: most politicians are not there because they’ll make good leaders. They’re there because they had more money to advertise, or the lies they told about their opponents stuck better, or they’re running against a pedophile. Likewise, I don’t think a lot of people get (or stay) in politics because they want to make the world on some level a better place; they want power, fame, money — the trappings of the offices.
Should Sanford resign? Assuming that he hasn’t broken any laws, I don’t think so. In fact, I would argue that maybe he’s a better leader or moral example than anyone else I can think of who has gotten caught with his or her hand in the cookie jar: he came right out and admitted it. There were probably threats of revelation from some outside party that compelled his tear-stained press conference yesterday, sure — but regardless, he was honest about it. He didn’t lie about it, he didn’t make excuses, he didn’t argue about the meaning of the word “sex.”
Short of the fact that he cheated on his wife, I think this was about the classiest handling of a political scandal that I’ve seen in my lifetime. We all — everyone of us, to a person — do wrong or bad things. Some of us have extramarital affairs, some of us steal, some of us get hopped up on crystal meth, rob three banks, and rape goats. But how many of us will admit that we’ve done wrong, with no excuses made? Even when confronted with videotape and DNA evidence, too many people lie or create stories or dance around the subject.
Sanford, if he broke no laws and is still capable of performing his duties while his family sorts things out, deserves probably more than any other politician to remain in office. He’s an outstanding example of honor (even if only after the fact) and accountability — two qualities that seem to be desperately lacking in the world today.
Besides, how great do you think his replacement will be?
If we continue to ignore only the actions and not differentiate those actions by the reactions, then all we are teaching the future generations is that the main goal is not to get caught.