June 26, 2009 [LINK / comment]

Can Gov. Sanford keep his job?

Yet another Republican official has been caught up in a morals scandal that, in many peoples' eyes, makes the party look hypocritical. Gov. Mark Sanford's lame alibi -- that he was hiking along the Appalachian Trail -- was bound to unravel eventually, and made the affair with the mysterious "Maria" of Argentina all the more farcical. It makes you wonder how a smart guy like that would think he could get away with it. Lust and hubris go hand in hand, and if political leaders can't control themselves, they soon fall. As far as his public duties, Sanford's biggest sin was making trips with taxpayers' money. No one can excuse that, period. If he avoids impeachment, he will still end up gravely weakened, probably ruining his political career. He has left his position as chairman of the Republican Governors' Conference, and is no longer a serious contender for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.

Sanford drew flak from other Republicans in March, referring to people like Rush Limbaugh in suggesting that anyone who wants President Obama to fail is an "idiot." Hey, Mark take a look in the mirror! smile

Washington Post cartoonist Tom Toles had a pretty good one today, with the GOP elephant lost somewhere along the Appalachian Trail between Maine and Argentina (!), holding a map and a bible entitled "Holier Than Thou." The fact that so few Republican leaders recognize the perilous position they put themselves in when they court moralistic "values voters" who are especially liable to punish candidates who "stray from the path." Sometimes the party as a whole suffers for the sins of a few. As the Toles cartoon says, the Republicans are indeed in the "Wilderness Years."

For the record, I was hiking along the Appalachian Trail last weekend, in case anyone was wondering where I was. Unlike Sanford, however, I was with my wife!

Rambling Kaine

But wait, there's another southern governor who has been AWOL for extended periods in recent months: our very own Timothy Kaine! With all his fund-raising trips on behalf of the Democratic Party lately, he is a true "ramblin' man." (Cue Allman Brothers.) Virginia Republicans have been demanding that Kaine release his travel records so that the public can know where and what he has been up to. Today, however, his office issued a flat rejection, saying that travels that do not pertain to state business are nobody's business. See the Washington Post. Hmmm. I guess that means that he is only a part-time governor. Did the voters realize that his devotion to the Commonwealth would take a back seat to his Higher Ambitions when they elected him three and a half years ago? In the News Leader, Jim McCloskey had a good cartoon today, pointing to the parallels between Gov. Kaine and "fellow traveler" Gov. Sanford, with Kaine's wife saying "At least my husband isn't in Argentina." smile

R.I.P. Jack Kemp

While the rest of the world is absorbed in the tragedy of Michael Jackson's death, we should take a minute to remember someone who died last month whose work never got as much credit as was due. Jack Kemp was a pro football quarterback (for the Buffalo Bills) as well as a congressman and a member of the (first) Bush cabinet, as secretary of housing and urban development. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele paid tribute to Kemp as a "standard-bearer for economic conservatism and lower taxes within the Republican Party. ... He would often remind me what it meant to be a 'Lincoln Republican.'" See GOP.com. Conservative curmudgeon Cal Thomas wrote a tribute column that appeared in the News Leader: "The Jack Kemp I Knew." Like Steele, he emphasizes that Kemp was a sincere true believer in expanding opportunities for less-advantaged people by unleashing market forces.

I sometimes wondered about some of Kemp's ideas, such as supply-side economics or targeted tax breaks to regenerate business in urban areas by creating "enterprise zones." It just seemed too gimmicky and prone to misuse to me. Nevertheless, I would agree with the general idea that in an imperfect world you sometimes need to compromise with basic principles in order to accomplish important tasks. Kemp never worried about whether he fit somebody else's description of a "true conservative." The important thing about his life is that he broadened the Republican Party's appeal, a vital task that has fallen by the wayside in recent years.