Mark Sanford Makes the Grade

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford

The New York Times op-ed columnist Gail Collins draws lessons from the emerging story of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s affair with an Argentine woman. (“The Love Party,” June 24, 2009). Though her piece seems primarily intended to tease Republicans who put us through the Clinton impeachment, she briefly touches down in gender politics—or is it gay politics?—when she writes, “Perhaps it is time to rethink the idea of constantly electing middle-aged heterosexual men to positions of high importance.”

This is purely tongue-in-cheek, of course, and the reference to Sanford’s sexual orientation is without context in the article. Her first impulse may have been to write “middle-aged men” without the “heterosexual” qualifier. But the insertion of “heterosexual” creates a linkage to the roiling gay perspective on the Sanford affair. Sanford, after all, is a strong “family values” advocate who nevertheless opposes efforts by gays and lesbians to create strong families. (As a congressman, he voted against same-sex marriage and adoptions by gay couples.)

So we give him extra marks for hypocrisy. These will qualify him for induction into the Family Values Hall of Shame along with Rudi Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, Larry Craig, John Ensign, Rush Limbaugh, Clarence Thomas, and David Vitter. Famous Democrat philanderers of recent years—Bill Clinton, Eliot Spitzer, and John Edwards—do not qualify for membership in this august body because they did not spend enough of their careers throwing stones, and they have all opposed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

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