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Love Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry July 2, 2009

Posted by Kate Ryan in 2012, Christian Right, National Politics, Politics, Republicans.
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SC Governor Where?Or does it?

If you are Republican South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, love is apparently ALL about apologizing – to your wife, your children, your constituents, your colleagues, and your buddies – while throwing a few tears in for good measure. 

In case you have been living under a rock or are simply saturated with Michael Jackson overload, the family-values Conservative admitted to an extramarital affair in a tear-stained press conference last Wednesday (June 23).  The admission came after the governor, who is the father of four young sons, disappeared over Father’s Day weekend without leaving so much as a beeper number with his family or staff.   Sanford’s wife told reporters even she didn’t know where he was.  The official story was that he went hiking on the Appalachian Trail to clear his head after losing a court fight over federal stimulus money – a story that started to unravel after reporters spotted his (state-issue) car at the Atlanta airport.

As Sanford stepped up to then podium to give his confession, nobody had any idea of the admission that was about to come forth.  I certainly didn’t.  My guess was that he had been in a detox somewhere. 

After a rambling travelogue about the charms of the Appalachian Trail, the governor told the nation that he had been “crying his eyes out in Argentina” for the previous five days, apparently in the arms of one Maria Belen Shapur – a divorced resident of Buenos Aires.  According to Sanford, he and Shapur (whose identity was not revealed until last Friday) fell in love last year after an 8-year friendship.  Sanford’s wife Jenny, a former Wall Street executive and Skil power tools heiress, was made aware of the affair some 5 months ago.  She reported that she and the governor had been living separately for a few weeks.

On Thurday, a series of romantic and explosive e-mails between Chapur and Sanford were released by the media.  In them, it is clear that Sanford is absolutely besotted with the woman – “my heart cries out for you, your voice, your body, the touch of your lips, the touch of your finger tips and an even deeper connection to your soul” – one of the e-mails says. 

As the days have gone by, Sanford has made the situation worse by refusing to step down as governor – quoting the Old Testament and the story of King David in the process – and has revealed intimate details of the affair and his feelings toward Chapur.  In one statement, Sanford said that he “wanted to fall in love again” with his wife, but that Shapur was his “soul mate”.  Let me tell you, if I had been Jenny Sanford, I would have been at the lawyers filing papers within minutes of hearing that gem.  He later announced that he had “crossed some lines” with other women during his marriage, but not the “ultimate” line.  Doesn’t that sound a little like, “I did NOT have sex with that woman”?

Republicans have been cringing for a week over Sanford – and not just because of his “diarrhea of the mouth” as my Dad used to call it.  Sanford has been widely touted as a 2012 presidential contender and was viewed to represent the Christian Conservative base of the party.  Sanford’s implosion, coming on the heels of Senator John Ensign’s (R – NV) admission of a long-term extramarital affair, has left the once-proud party in further disarray.  Though many South Carolina Republicans have been calling for his resignation, Sanford stubbornly refuses to budge.  He remains a visible embarrassment to his state and the Republican Party.

There is a part of me – the dominant and cynical part –  that is absolutely enjoying this whole charade.  When people like Sanford hold themselves out as examples of morality, values, and decency it is as if they are lecturing the rest of us who do not hold the same opinions of life as if we were lesser people.  To see these hypocrites hang themselves with ropes of their own making is oddly delightful.

That being said, however, the hopeful romantic in me finds something rather touching about Sanford’s admissions.  It is obvious to anyone watching that the guy has deep feelings for his Argentine flower – and the feelings for his wife are much less so.   It happens all the time.  I feel sympathy for Jenny Sanford  but at this juncture she’s probably very unhappy as well.  Life is too darned short to spend it tied to someone who is only there because he feels obligated.  Jenny deserves a chance to fall in love again, too.

Sanford should take the advice of his peers and resign.  He and Chapur could be the love story of the 21st century; by giving up his ambitions for the woman he loves they could be the new Duke and Duchess of Windsor living out their fabulous lives in exile in Argentina.  Then, Progressives can strike Sanford off the list and concentrate on worrying about Mitt Romney.

It really is romantic when you think about it.

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Hucka-bridge to Nowhere June 3, 2009

Posted by Kate Ryan in 2012, Christian Right, National Politics, New York Politics, Obama Administration, Presidential Politics, Republicans.
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mikehuckabeeOn today’s “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, host Joe Scarborough discussed a recent network poll about potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates.  Leading the pack was former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee at 23% with Alaska governor Sarah Palin close behind at 21%.  Former Massachusetts governor and 2008 presidential candidate Mitt Romney scored in at 13% – an earlier CNN poll showed Romney leading the field at 21%.  Lastly, former Florida governor and presidential sibling Jeb Bush received 6%.

The MSNBC poll was taken among self-identified Republicans (apparently they found some); the CNN poll was conducted on the general voting populace.  What is striking about these results is that among Republicans, the religious ultra-conservatives win.  When polling all Americans, however, a more moderate Republican – Romney – comes out on top.  As Scarborough pointed out, 44% of Republicans prefer a candidate so outside the mainstream of America that he or she can not win. 

These are bad days for Republican moderates.  Not only is the party expelling and expunging them, the the Obama administration is picking them off for cabinet posts and party-switching.  In a brilliant stroke, the administration tapped NY Republican congressman John McHugh as Secretary of the Army.  This follows the selection of Utah governor (and potential 2012 rival) John Huntsman as Ambassador to China, the defection of Arlen Spector, and the choice of former Republican congressman Ray LaHood of Illinois as Transportation Secretary.  The selection of McHugh leaves New York’s 29 Congressional districts with only two Republicans — one of whom, Christopher Lee of Amherst, is sure to see his district eliminated after the 2010 census (due to a falling population, New York will probably lose 2 congressional seats). 

Lest you think that New York doesn’t matter because we’re all a bunch of screaming liberals here, think again.  Those on the right that may sniff at New York losing Republicans should realize that as recently as 5 years ago, New York had 10 Republican congressional seats; in the early 1990’s there were as many as 17.  Outside of the cities, New York tends to be very fiscally conservative while being socially moderate.   Since the Republican party went full-on socially conservative, however, even moderate New York Republicans can not win.  Indeed, there are no Republican House members in all of New England – and only two Senators.

The Republican party is self-immolating.  By allowing their non-elected spokespersons (Cheney, Limbaugh, and the entire Fox News network) to define them and keep their base whipped up, they are alienating moderates and Independents from their camp.  Since base voters are the ones that vote in primaries and essentially pick the candidates, they are dooming themselves to becoming a Southern regional party with little national significance.

I think Americans have had it with the anti-intellectual that you’d feel comfortable having a beer with as President.  We don’t need a former Baptist minister that eats squirrels and eschews evolution as President.  We don’t need an ethically-challenged former beauty queen as president.  We don’t need people that believe in God – but believe in torture – leading us.

Truthfully, Romney is the guy that – as a Liberal – scares me.  If he can figure out a position on issues and stick with it, he would be a formidable opponent.  Americans have a near-reverence for businessmen and Romney has a successful history in business.  As Joe Scarborough pointed out this morning, had Romney been the 2008 candidate for President when the economy melted down in October, he very well could be sitting in the White House today.  That gives me the shivers – like a bad dream.   But, fortunately for Liberals and Progressives, the Republican base will never accept Romney.

I’ll continue to sleep easy.