So, The Palmetto State just elected Mark Sanford as their their Congressman for South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District. If that name sounds familiar, it might be because you remember him as the Governor of South Carolina who disappeared for five days, telling his wife, as well as everyone else, that he was going for a walk on the Appalachian Trail, but instead using taxpayer money to fly to Argentina to be with his mistress (to whom he is now engaged). He then lied about it some more, he was fined $70,000 (the largest fine in the state’s history) for multiple ethics violations, and he and his wife divorced. You might have also heard about it because Stephen Colbert’s sister Elizabeth Colbert Busch was his democratic challenger for the district seat. Or, maybe you didn’t know anything about it.
Well, whether you knew about it or not, he won. There are some places in this country that you could literally put a republican pin on a day-old turd and it would beat any democratic challenger in an election. Take, for example, Tennessee’s 4th Congressional District, who elected pro-life republican candidate Scott DesJarlais as their representative. They elected him after it had come out that while he was Chief of Staff at a hospital, he had multiple affairs with his coworkers and patients in his care–at least one of whom he prescribed pain pills to. It also came out that he got one of his patients pregnant, and then pressured her to get an abortion. And, if you can believe it, it gets a lot worse than that. But fortunately for him, his opponent was a democrat, so…. Hello Mr. Congressman! Of course, this happens in democratic districts as well–it just doesn’t seem to happen with as much flair as Mr. Sanford or Mr. DesJarlais.
Anyway, Mark Sanford, disgraced former Governor, is now the member-elect for the U.S. House of Representatives for South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District. At his victory party last night, he credited “human grace,” as well as God’s grace, for his victory, saying “I just want to acknowledge a God not just of second chances, but of third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth chances … because that’s the reality of our shared humanity.” And this is true. God is a God second chances. I mean, King David was an adulterer and a murderer, and Samuel still considered him “a man after God’s own heart” (of course, that was before some of those really bad decisions happened, but let’s not quibble about semantics). As I reminded people about very recently, “We have all fallen short of the glory of God.” “LET HE WHO IS WITHOUT POLITICAL SCANDAL CAST THE FIRST STONE!!!”
And I get that. Everybody makes mistakes. We are all fallen. Judge not, lest ye be judged, and all that…. But here’s the thing: We can keep ourselves from judging a person and still understand that a person should not be in a position of leadership. We don’t hire convicted pedophiles as kindergarten teachers, we don’t go to unethical doctors who use their position to have sex with their patients, and we shouldn’t elect people to Congress who have shown incredible and astonishing lapses of judgement like these. And the ones I’ve mentioned were not even the worst examples of Sanford’s bad judgment. Consider this: After cheating on his wife, tearing their family apart, and even being charged with trespassing in her home, Mark Sanford–short on funds because the the National Republican Congressional Committee pulled funding from his campaign–went to his ex wife (who comes from a very wealthy and well-connected family that helped finance his earlier political campaigns) and had the chutzpah to…. wait for it…. ASK HER FOR MONEY!!! Anyone with that kind of stupidity should probably be kept as far away from a position of leadership as possible.
But that’s not what happened here. I guess I’m pretty stupid as well–Stupid enough to think that people could vote based on a person’s character rather than on the letter in front of their name. Oh well. You got what you asked for, South Carolina: Another republican vote in the House. But you got something else as well: You also positioned your state firmly as the laughing stock of the country–The leader in being the butt of America’s jokes. I suppose it’s not all bad…. Anything that takes the focus off of Tennessee.