Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Schadenfreude In Sanford Affair

South Carolina Governor, Mark Sanford, admitted to having a year long affair with an Argentine woman, despite being married with four children.

The Governor's week long disappearance was originally attributed by staffers as "hiking the Appalachian Trail" to clear his head after losing the fight to oppose taking Federal stimulus funds. His wife said she didn't know where he was, however. Turns out, she knew about it for the last 5 months and they were effectively separated.

This makes Sanford a grade-A, number one Yahoo with oatmeal for brains. Not only was the State left without governance, but also --and most importantly -- HE HAD FOUR KIDS. You don't DO that to kids; screwing up your own life is one thing, screwing up theirs is unconscionable. Oh, yeah, and now he'll never be President: big deal.

So now he's being lambasted in the media, and rightly so. However, after the surging waves of our indignation have passed, it is worth pointing out the shallowness of his opposition.
[Washington Post] State Sen. John C. Land III (D), South Carolina's longest-serving lawmaker, said Sanford "is done politically," because in the past he has been "holier than thou."
Note the phrase. Sanford is "done" politically, not because he made a mistake, not because he got caught, not because he left the State ungoverned, not because his judgement is suspect, but because he was "holier than thou". That's called envy -- or at least schadenfreude: taking delight in the misfortunes of others.

Sen. Land is taking delight in his rival's destruction; perhaps more to the point, in the destruction of what Sanford stands for: family, religion, fiscal austerity, moral authority. Yes, Sanford has done a good job of discrediting himself, but others should not revel in it.

I asked why there seemed to be a disproportionate number of Republican politicos in recent times with fidelity issues. The response was that the numbers were probably equal, but that there was a disproportionate reporting on Republicans vs. Democrats. For better or worse, Republican social conservatives have positioned themselves as the party of traditional morality and ethics. The liberal wing of the Democrats eschew traditional morality, but they are the first to yell "hypocrite" and rub social conservatives' noses in it when they stumble.

So if you have moral standards in political life, you'll be skewered with them if you fail to live up to them even once, but if you profess none, then all things are tolerated?

1 comment:

SWP said...

Personally I think liberals are getting back at conservatives for the Clinton scandal, as if the ubiquity of infidelity means we should abandon any expectation of virtuous behavior.Gee, I wonder whose purposes that would serve?


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