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Meteor shower of rising Republican stars plunging back to earth

| The good news just keeps on coming!

This week Mark Sanford, the governor of South Carolina, the buckle on the Bible belt and home of Bob Jones University, went missing. He had been last seen driving a black SUV. After a few fumbles, the word was that he was off hiking the Appalachian Trail, getting his thoughts together to write a book. The SUV was later discovered in the parking lot of the Atlanta airport, and Sanford himself got his turn in the national spotlight when a reporter met him getting off a non-stop flight from Argentina.

Mind, an extramarital affair by a politician in many countries is taken for granted. It would be news in Italy, for example, if Silvio Berlusconi were not having a romp with some succulent lass. But the US is a different matter altogether. Here we pay hyperactive lip service to the "sanctity of marriage" which has to be "defended" at every opportunity.

One Republican after another has been hoist on their own family-values petard. It's a delicious list:

The rising stars of the Republican party have produced a veritable meteor shower plunging back to earth. It's the kiss of political death to be designated a hopeful.

Democrats have their share of philanderers, of course. Bill Clinton famously did "not have sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky." Eliot Spitzer was forced to resign his newly-won governorship in New York after he was caught out using prostitutes. And Jim McGreevey resigned as governor of New Jersey after admitting an extramarital affair with a male appointee.

Big woo. What makes this such a problem for the Republicans is that they have chosen to make the religious right the base of their party and rally round the flag of fundamentalist causes, like God, the Ten Commandments, anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-almost-everything. It's a law of life: When you try to tell others how to live their lives, it inevitably comes back to bite you in the ass.

Sanford obviously hasn't read the well-thumbed playbook for how to handle being discovered a moral hypocrite. About the only thing he did right at his press conference was to not have the innocent bystanders there with him to share the shame. His wife and kids were nowhere to be seen. (That may have been more the wife's decision — who knows?) He was incoherent, weepy, and so obviously ill-prepared that he only made bad matters worse. He apologized to almost everyone. In fact, I feel slighted that he missed me in the litany of apologies. In short, he proved himself flakier than Sara Lee's pie crust.

All these Republicans do the apology ritual with such feeling! It's phony of course — the only thing they're really sorry about is that they got caught.

But there is one apology I'd really like to hear. I'd like to hear an apology from the Republicans for having impeached Bill Clinton out of their sense of moral outrage. And I'd like especially to hear one from Newt Gingrich who was leading the moral charge at the very time he, Gingrich, was having his own extramarital affair. I'm tired of hearing the pots call the kettles black.

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Last updated on Apr 13, 2018

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