Governor Mark Sanford and ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner: Who defines morality? - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Governor Mark Sanford and ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner: Who defines morality?

Now that conservatives are spinning the political win of  South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford  into a day of deliverance, ex- Congressman Anthony Weiner’s ‘return from exile’ to run   for mayor of New York also sparks much appeal.  While commentators contend that both men are capable of serving with excellence, opponents on the other hand dispute that the problem is not about politics but with the definition of morality and family values.

And this is absolutely the case.  Governor Sanford conducted an adulterous affair, disappeared to visit the woman in Argentina, lied about his whereabouts and misused state funds in making the trip, yet conservative voters embraced his story of penitence and hoped-for reclamation to look past his personal indiscretions.


Sanford and Weiner are back. (Fox News screen shot)

Sanford defeated Elizabeth Colbert Busch in a special election for a House seat he himself once held, because he convincingly articulated the conservative argument to fascinate hard-right voters to oversee his record of contradictions and weirdness.

Although Alexindria Lapp, executive director of  the House Majority PAC confirms that “the House Republican Caucus has added yet another ethically challenged embarrassment that will be an albatross around the neck of every Republican forced to answer for Sanford’s embarrassing and reckless behavior,” Republicans  are very tight lipped about the matter.

More could have been made of this especially among the ranks of evangelical Christians.  Instead they are choosing to weaken former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s political credentials in his run for Mayor of New York city because of his personal history.

Weiner is not without blemish. His  disgraced behavior of sending   lewd picture over Twitter then repeatedly  denying it and later  admitting  to exchanging inappropriate messages with at least six women should not go by unnoticed in a mayoral race  where his emphasis is on education; but  like Mr. Sanford, he also deserves a second chance.

Weiner possesses immaculate credentials and political instinct. His   blazing speeches on the House floor on healthcare and aiding first responders to the Sept. 11 attacks who suffered health consequences certainly qualifies him as an advocate for the working class.

In reality, differences between the actions of Sanford and Weiner are hard to detect. Sexual misconduct and marital infidelity are their transgressions but they are consistent, principled and courageous politicians and their personal wrongdoings should have nothing to do with politics. They shouldn’t be defined by what happened in their personal lives.

But many like Deirdre Boyle,  professor of media studies at The New School in New York seems to differ by charging that  “it’s political because this is one of the ways in which notions about where American values lie are being leveraged between Republican and Democratic agendas.”

These are gloomy days for American politics especially where morality is concerned and it is impossible to set higher moral standards for politicians than the rest of ordinary men. Sanford’s actions make it impossible for Republicans to claim “family values” as their mantra,  but  studies prove again and again that “morality dominated politics lead to increased and more universal participation, as well as effective governments that can solve long term problems.”

Whatever that means, it seems that virtuous conduct surely doesn’t apply to politics. “Morality when used in a descriptive sense has an essential feature that “morality” in the normative sense does not have,”

As one commentator remarked, “Morality belongs to the individual. Politics belongs to the public.”



About the author

Rebeca Theodore

Rebeca Theodore is a national security and political op-ed columnist based in Washington DC. Her work has appeared in various newsprint throughout the Caribbean, Canada and the US. Follow her on twitter @rebethd. Contact the author.

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