Thursday, June 25, 2009

RIP Mark Sanford

I have written briefly about Mark Sanford twice before, once in Feburary and once in May. Slowly but surely he was growing on me. His challenge of the federal government in attempting to flat out refuse acceptance of any stimulus funds for his state made me smile from ear to ear. Then when forced to accept the funds, his challenge to utilize the funds to pay down state debt rather than spend, spend, spend was the political highlight of the aftermath of the nuclear financial explosion that was the passing of that bill.

Here was a man, I felt, that was going to be able to be a figurehead of Libertarian values moving forward over the next four years. Given his personality, I wasn't sure how, if at all, he would be able to handle the national stage, and so I had been biding my time in really getting behind him, though have often received emails from members of DraftSanford2012 dutifully keeping me apprised of his actions.

What attracted me to Sanford was his level of commitment to his personal and political values and his staunch refusal to act politically in any manner that was not in the long term best interests of the people of his state. I fought to remain quiet over the last week amid stories of his disappearance, and was ultimately left saddened and discouraged yesterday upon the announcement of his affair, effectively his political death.

As we conservatives and libertarians hold ourselves to a higher level of personal responsibility than do liberals (see Kennedy, Edward and Clinton, William), it is only fitting that we now cast this man out as a possible representative of our values. There will be no apology made, no eloquently spun explanation of how he is only human, on behalf of Mark Sanford's repugnant weakness, merely only the hope that he finds a way to come to terms with his struggles and to live out a decent personal life from this point on.

Politically speaking, we are left to carry on the mantle of conservatism and libertarianism for the time being without a potential star. Reihan Salam eulogizes:
Back in 2002, when he was first elected governor, Sanford was the darling of D.C. libertarians. As one of Newt Gingrich's foot soldiers in the House of Representatives, he acquired a reputation as a budget-cutting cheapskate who, with his friend and ally Ron Paul, constantly railed against pork-barrel spending and the overweening power of the federal Leviathan. Despite his small fortune, Sanford slept in his congressional office. And his tightfistedness extended to the running of his first gubernatorial campaign, when he reportedly hunted for loose change and haggled over office supplies. His enthusiasm for school choice and firearm ownership also won him kudos from the right wing. But Sanford's total inability to play nice with the legislature stymied his most ambitious efforts, including a long-term plan to roll back South Carolina's state income tax.

All the same, Sanford's libertarian bona fides were real. In March, Michael Brendan Dougherty wrote a fascinating
profile of Sanford that, on close examination, could have killed his presidential ambitions then and there. Sanford railed against the Federal Reserve; when asked about Michael Phelps’ arrest on drug charges, the governor rolled his eyes. And he seemed to be launching a critique of the Bush Doctrine when he told Dougherty, "I don't believe in preemptive war," a categorical statement he later inched away from in a rare bout of political cowardice. For me, though, the most telling part of the profile came at the end, when Dougherty noted Sanford's total lack of interest in University of South Carolina basketball and his inability to use basic sports metaphors. Given the macho cast of American conservatism, this might have proved a fatal flaw. His recent public weeping won't help matters.

As Sanford slinks away from the public eye, antiwar libertarians have lost their best hope of building a national movement. The 2008 uprising of Birchers, hippies, and raw-milk enthusiasts that fueled Ron Paul's quixotic bid for the White House was looking for a leader, and Sanford seemed to fit the bill. Now he'll instead spend his days doing who knows what—he'll write a book or play golf or maybe smoke a bowl while cradled in the arms of some dark-eyed South American siren. Which, when you think about it, doesn't sound that bad.


  1. May sound harsh, but I want these people gone. I don't care about Clinton and loose zipper. I want these people out of our party.

  2. Can't really disagree with you, Clyde. He could've been a good one. No more.

  3. Oh great. First the Republicans ruin the US economy, now they're even outsourcing adultery.


  4. Forget, please, "conservatism." It has been, operationally, de facto, Godless and therefore irrelevant. Secular conservatism will not defeat secular liberalism because to God both are two atheistic peas-in-a-pod and thus predestined to failure. As Stonewall Jackson's Chief of Staff R.L. Dabney said of such a humanistic belief more than 100 years ago:

    "[Secular conservatism] is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today .one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt bath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth."

    Our country is collapsing because we have turned our back on God (Psalm 9:17) and refused to kiss His Son (Psalm 2).

    John Lofton, Editor,
    Recovering Republican

    PS – And “Mr. Worldly Wiseman” Rush Limbaugh never made a bigger ass of himself than at CPAC where he told that blasphemous “joke” about himself and God.