A quick Google search of “politicians are” returns the following four suggestions: like diapers, sociopaths, the lowest form of life, and liars. A recent Public Policy Polling study found politicians to be less popular than the conqueror Genghis Khan or cockroaches.
Given their exploits, it’s no surprise that politicians get a bad rap. Marital scandals have rocked both parties for years, tarnishing the reputations of the likes of Bill Clinton, John Edwards, David Vitter, and Larry Craig.
Now, disgraced politicians from both parties are trying to revive their political careers: former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and former New York Representative Anthony Weiner. How out of touch are these guys that they believe that everything will be forgiven? Weiner, somewhat. Sanford, incredibly.
Both men, you probably heard, left office after being caught lying about their extramarital activities.
For a week in June 2009, Sanford went on “vacation,” hiking the Appalachian Mountains, where he was out of contact with his staff. It was later revealed that he was actually in Argentina, visiting his girlfriend. The former governor and his wife have since divorced, and Sanford is engaged to his Argentine partner. He’s currently running for his old House seat in the 1st district of South Carolina.
Two years ago, Weiner was snared in one of the first high-profile Twitter scandals for sending sexually suggestive photos to some of his followers. Weiner eventually admitted his wrongdoing and resigned his seat. Now, he’s thinking once again about running for mayor of New York.
It would make some sense for Weiner to run, as he is guilty of nothing more serious than “Twitter infidelity.” He has apologized and even admits that it may never be his time to be in politics again. I think that’s a correct stance, and ultimately, it’s up to New York City’s voters to decide if he’s got any future in politics. I can forgive his mistakes because he has owned up to them. He and his wife Huma Abedin have made up.
Sanford’s decision to run, however, is different. Politicians can bounce back from their scandals — David Vitter and Bill Clinton are testaments of this. Yet the fact the he left his post for a week, without letting anyone know where he actually was is troubling. If something would have happened in South Carolina while he was on his South American excursion, who would have taken over in his absence?
Sanford’s wanton disrespect for his constituents makes it impossible for me to see him ever working in politics again.
Both men committed similar transgressions but they took different steps after their scandals erupted. Weiner apparently believed that he was above reproach when he sent those pictures to his followers. Sanford seemed to believe the same thing and he didn’t even resign after being caught in his web of lies. Instead, he divorced his wife and the mother of four children and kept his job for another year and a half.
If South Carolinians send Sanford back to Congress, they’ll also be sending a message that it’s OK to run off on your wife and kids. More importantly, they’ll be telling elected officials that abandoning their duties is just fine too.