Thursday, May 09, 2013

Trail Mix

I guess congratulations are in order to Mark Sanford for defeating Stephen Colbert's sister in a special congressional election in South Carolina this week. But I have to wonder if this teaches Republicans the wrong lesson.

In recent years, the GOP has a record of nominating some true losers--people who were not properly vetted and showed it by saying stupid things, or people who were too radical to begin with, or had personal flaws that seriously hurt their chances.  Both sides have this dynamic, of course--the party faithful, who often decide the nominee, want someone more extreme than plays well with the electorate at large--but Republicans have been abusing this privilege of late.  It's arguable they'd have control of the Senate if they'd have been more careful.

I didn't follow the South Carolina race closely, but everyone knew about Sanford, who had a notorious affair a few years ago when he was governor.  If he wants to follow his soul mate, that's his business, but you'd think then he might stay out of politics--or at least his party wouldn't let him back in.  So I have to ask--was he really the best candidate available for this race?  There were sixteen Republicans running for the slot, and his party said "this is the guy"?

So now he's won.  Should Republicans whoop it up and say this proves such considerations don't matter? Obviously not, since this is a heavily Republican district, and Sanford almost lost it. He had to nationalize the race--make it against Nancy Pelosi--to remind the voters his party registration was more important than his personal problems. Even then, his margin of victory in the district was only half that of Mitt Romney's in the 2012 presidential race.

Some thought this race might be a harbinger for 2014.  And if Republican take it as a lesson that they can still play fast and loose with their nominees, it very well might be.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A couple things-

This is more than just a Republican issue. Infidelity has been relegated the to importance it deserves. Like parking tickets and smoking weed, it is not a disqualification for office.

Also Sanford was a nice guy, seemed genuine and open about his public embarrassments and was better known than any Republican challenger.

Americans still tend to vote individuals rather than ideology or parties - I have always thought this was a good thing which has been undermined in recent years by all the party discipline (a positively European development)

3:07 AM, May 09, 2013  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

Argh - just Argh. I was hoping for Sanford to lose, since it would have been a short term for the Democrat who would have lost in 2014 in the next regular election. The Sanfords and Edwards and Weiners and, indeed, the Clintons of the world should be taught the lesson that if you have low moral values, you shouldn't represent the people in government.

People argue that being a role-model is part of being a famous (and rich) athlete, because of the large influence you have on your fans, especially young ones. If athletes are public figures who we fear can tragically mislead members of the public, how much moreso is an elected public official? What bothered me most about the Paula Jones-Lewinsky matter during the Clinton years was having to explain to my pre-teen children what was going on, and trying to make sense that the President had hurt and continued to hurt other people (women in particular) even while he was trusted with protecting and leading this nation.

I can forgive one-off mistakes, so maybe we can argue Sanford had one fall. Except there was all this stuff about him subsequently tresspassing on his ex-wife's property - I didn't follow the details. Maybe Sanford has done sufficient public penance (I haven't followed him much either), but it would have been a small price to pay if he had lost and given a larger message to our politicians.

And now I hear Anthony Weiner is trolling about for a run for Mayor of NYC.

7:42 AM, May 09, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You'rem issing the positive side of so-called extremists. They get people like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz elected over the "mainstream" choice, creating stars in the GOP who will move things forward. Same for the Democrats, who took a minor but far-left figure not really ready to serve and made him a two-term President.

10:39 AM, May 09, 2013  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Anon 1: I think this was a case of people voting ideology over individual. If this had been a competitive race rather than a fairly safe district, the choice of Sanford could have been a disaster. Sanford did run a good race, though--when it looked like voters may vote for the personal he made it all about the political.

Denver Guy: I don't care if politicians are role models in their personal lives. As I've said before, they're hired hands, and I don't reall care about the personal life of a plumber I hire as long as he does a good job.

I question if anyone, much less our youth, personally model themselves on politicians. But if they do, we've got to stop it. Politicians, sports heroes, movie stars--we have to teach our kids that these are the last people you want to emulate.

11:02 AM, May 09, 2013  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

LAGuy - didn't you go to high school?

The young emulate and idolize the famous and popular - always have, always will. In HS, this means drama club stars, jocks, and student government, and year book editors. Once they graduate, this means movie stars, athletes, politicians and gossip columnists.

8:28 AM, May 13, 2013  

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