Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Favorite Adulterer

Political sex scandals have expiration dates now.

Eliot Spitzer, who resigned as New York Governor in 2008 for consorting with a call girl, is now a CNN anchor while Louisiana last week easily reelected Sen. David Vitter, who was the DC Madam's best customer a year earlier.

Sexual commerce aside, my favorite adulterer is South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, now resurfacing with high approval ratings to hint of a possible return to public life as he gives way to Gov.-Elect Nikki Haley, who had to withstand gossip about affairs of her own during the campaign.

“I’d say nothing is impossible, given the last chapter of my life,” Sanford tells an interviewer, saying he is more likely to work in the private sector but not ruling out another run for office.

Why should he? Family values voters have stepped aside for Tea Party enthusiasts, who care more about cutting taxes and deficits than breaking marital vows.

Of all the politicians caught cheating, Sanford has been by far the most dopily sincere, with the hapless look of Edward VIII giving up the throne of England in 1936 for "the woman I love," a man undone by sudden passion after a straight-laced lifetime.

What emotions must have overcome an Eagle Scout on his way to a possible presidential nomination to make him suddenly disappear, on Father's Day weekend, and return to confess publicly with the dazed look of a man with no rational explanation for his behavior?

Yet the voters, who may forgive Sanford after he steps down and marries his true love, have their limits. Nevada Sen. John Ensign, who "slept with his wife’s best friend who was also his best friend’s wife," is now being targeted in the 2012 GOP primaries.

And then, of course, there is John Edwards who, if a tabloid hadn't exposed his lies, might have ended up in the White House with two families. Don't look for his return any time soon. Voters may have lowered their threshold for sexual misconduct, but real sleaze still turns them off.

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