Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A quantum of umbrage: Qualifications

[Updated below.]

As I read the list of reasons that many people are dismayed that Mark Sanford got elected to the US House of Representatives from North Carolina after leaving the governor's job in disgrace a couple of years ago, the list of objections usually looks something like this:
[...] Mark Sanford, a man who cheated on his wife, tried to cover his actions with an absurd story about hiking the Appalachian Trail, and trespassed on his ex-wife’s property [...]
Krugman's point is politically valid: For many, the philandering itself is the most important charge, since it gives Democrats a reason to stick a thumb in the eye of social conservatives who still support the wayward Sanford.

But I still like to think the most important objection is the dog that hasn't seemed to bark in the night. It's not that Sanford cheated on his wife – barely more than a ticketable offense in national-level politics, especially Republican politics – but that, as governor, he disappeared for six days and not even the State Law Enforcement Division, presumably charged with his protection, knew where the hell he was, and certainly had no idea that he was in another country. In a country that flips its lid over national security issues, this should have triggered a good old tar-and-feathering.

And of course, had it been a Democratic governor, we'd have been treated to endless theories that he was on a secret mission to help Hugo Chavez overthrow the US with an army of socialist South American Islamic jihadists. But since it was a Republican, we all learned a new word in Spanish – inamorata-- and moved along. IOKIYAR.

But still. Slipping out of the country for a week, as chief executive of the state, without telling anyone, strikes me as reason enough not to trust him with a burnt-out match, let alone public office.

But on that matter, I have to admit Krugman's right:
Maybe, just maybe, you can make a case for choosing the right person for governor, regardless of party. But when you’re sending someone to Congress, all that matters is the R or D after that person’s name. It seems that conservative voters understand that; liberals and moderates should, too.
Update: This has been making the rounds on Facebook today:

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