On a slow summer news day when the country’s attention should have been focused on the Oscars expanding its Best Picture category from five to 10 nominees (Link to Roger Ebert’s Blog) and the U.S. upsetting Spain in some soccer game, the Sanford news rocked the Republican Party, which had otherwise been enjoying so much powerful good news recently with President Obama’s popularity plateauing around 60% and about 1 in 4 Americans calling themselves Republican.
Anytime these days a Republican gets publicly expressed sympathy from Democrats, you know it’s not only insincere, it’s big trouble.
So, in other words, according to modern American political tradition, Sanford has joined the rapidly expanding bipartisan male club of big names to publicly admit embarrassing romantic affairs outside their marriage — Bill Clinton, Gary Hart, Newt Gingrich, House Speaker-designate Bob Livingston, David Vitter, Eliot Spitzer, Edward Kennedy, Gavin Newsom, Antonio Villaraigosa, John Edwards and most recently another John named Ensign.
And before them, we now know, JFK and Ike and FDR and who knows who all. (And since then, Rep. Mark Foley, who wasn’t married, but that’s another story.)
At least Ensign and Sanford didn’t make their wives stand beside their man during the video confessions. (See video below) Or maybe, hopefully, the wives told them what they could do with that invite.
Sanford says he’s resigning chairmanship of the Republican Governors Assn., which will prevent some news conference chuckles but won’t change the course of GOP history. No word on his resignation as governor, which means he’ll probably try to stay.
What Sanford’s troubles will do — and watch this politically — is elevate Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour to RGA chairman. Barbour is a Southerner in an increasingly Southern party, a successful state chief executive, a wealthy and savvy former political/legal consultant and like George H. W. Bush, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee with longstanding political and financial ties, friendships and owsies all over the country.