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A Few Thoughts on Mark Sanford


That was an entertaining press conference. Sen. David Vitter, the Louisiana Republican who patronized prostitutes provided by a famous D.C. Madam, didn't offer anything half as compelling. Gov. Mark Sanford, who had himself a garden-variety cheat, really stepped up the public drama of it: An inexplicable disappearance, a soul-baring presser, a televised paean to his mistress ... really an "A" for effort on all that.

But it would be a shame if the fact that Sanford is a commonly flawed man distracted from the fact that he's an uncommonly terrible governor. His grasp of macroeconomics would impress a stockbroker from the Flapper Era. Amid a bruising recession, he's repeatedly vetoed social spending and rejected stimulus funds. His fiscal management spurred Standard & Poor's to downgrade South Carolina's bond rating (and led Time magazine to name him one of the three worst governors in the nation).

Sanford easily won the contest for "Governor most likely to set Keynes spinning in his grave" by sending the legislature almost $500 million in spending cuts and saying, "When times go south you cut spending. That's what families do, that's what businesses do, and I don't think the government should be exempt from that process." That was last December, when the economy seemed to be hurtling off a cliff. It put Sanford in in direct conflict with, well, most every economist in the country, including Martin Feldstein, one of Ronald Reagan's top economic advisers. And it was, among governors, a fairly unique performance.

Conversely, I doubt Sanford is even one of the 500 worst husbands in the nation.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain

By Ezra Klein  |  June 24, 2009; 4:27 PM ET
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As a non-observant Catholic, I do love me some Protestant testimonial: public hooting and hollerin' about ones sins etc. And of course after one has done this and accepted Jesus into ones heart, one is a new man, until one does it again of course. At which point the cycle starts over.

Posted by: Castorp1 | June 24, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Also, beyond your policy point, with which I completely agree, I think it should be emphasized more that the Governor leaving without telling anyone and without being able to be reached is pretty irresponsible. What if there had been a hurricane? Or some other natural disaster? Or a terrorist attack? Obviously it is fine for a governor to travel somewhere, but to do it without telling his staff how to get in touch with him is really irresponsible.

Posted by: Castorp1 | June 24, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Actually regarding the current trouble he is in, I am surprised by how few journalists are raising queries about exactly who was in charge of SC state govt for the past week when the Governor disappeared without delegating duties, was out of all communication and even misled his own staff as to his probable location. This alone should be sufficient cause for impeachment.

Posted by: calvinav | June 24, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

To be fair to Sanford, he was actually named by Time Magazine as one of the nation's 3 worst governors.

Posted by: you-dont | June 24, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

And the other 2 are no longer in office.

Posted by: you-dont | June 24, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

That Erik fella over at Red State called Sanford his "favorite governor in the country" just a few days ago. Funny, huh.

Posted by: fishermansblues | June 24, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Not yielding to the Lt. Gov. for Sanford to take a break is more than irresponsible: it should be the subject of impeachment by the legislature.

While he was hiking the Argentinian tail, who knows what the state would do to respond to an emergency: no one had authority to act.

Dick anyone hear the crickets from the evangelical right on this? Is there any Republican official who can keep his pants zipped while in the presence of women who are not their wife? (Note, I'm discounting the zipper slip in the presence of same gender persons, since so far only one occurance if this among GOP officials.)

When the GOP base is now about 20%-30% of voters, losing the religious right (on top of blacks, asians, hispanics, women, gays/lesbians) wouldn't seem to be good strategy. But the religious right is playing the 3 monkey game: hear, see, speak no evil. So much for integrity.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | June 24, 2009 5:50 PM | Report abuse

But we would qualify as a bad father. He ran off over father's day. Who does that to their children?

Posted by: sailor0245 | June 24, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

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