Wednesday, June 24, 2009

“THAT WHOLE SPARKLING THING”

WHAT, REALLY, IS MARK SANFORD GUILTY OF?
(That we all need to know about?)









SANFORD AND SOUL



(June 24, Spartanburg, SC) Okay. He is the Governor of a State. He was the Chairman of the Republican Governors Association. He made headlines for refusing “stimulus money” from President Obama’s economic initiative. He has also been spoken about as an attractive, viable opposition candidate to The President in 2012. So he went off the radar screen for a few days. Big deal?

Now he’s back, full of explanations, remorse and angst. He is a father of four, married for twenty years. He is a Christian, actually, a proud, card carrying, Conservative Christian from deep in the Bible Belt.

And he has strayed. Good Lord Almighty, he has strayed!

Perhaps he and we would not be in this awkward but increasingly familiar spectacle if not for our collective, and disingenuous past.

Maybe our preference for privacy went by the wayside when black and white TV became color. Chet Huntley and David Brinkley may not have reported such a story. Certainly Walter Cronkite would have had a stroke if he’d attempted to face the nation with such tawdry details. Many Presidents and other politicians had been granted passes by the press. That all ended not all that long ago.

JFK’s romantic escapades were known but not reported. By the late 1970’s, the post-Watergate era, the media gloves had come off and our national taste for scandal had been whetted. The roster of politicos who’ve fallen publicly for private indiscretions is lengthy and star-studded. Arguably, the fate of our nation has been altered by what has transpired between two people between their sheets. Anyone remember Gary Hart?

It’s not morning in America anymore nor has it been for quite some time. This has been to our collective detriment. A corrosive force seems always swirling beneath the choppy waters of our political discourse, our elected officials lives. Who cast the first stone? That is debatable but there is no possible way to dent that “that” first stone was indeed cast and countless more have reigned down on the front lawn of our national politics for a long time. What has it gotten us? What has it taken from us?

Today, in the South Carolina State House we witnessed the public dissembling of an acutely troubled man. Before he was a Congressman or a Governor he was a man. A husband and a father, a man just like any with the same base compliment of humanity as any and every other man. That he chose to pursue a life in “public service” differentiates him from the vast majority of men in his vulnerability. His weaknesses are all too common; his position on the food chain puts him in rarified air. And so he’s fallen.

There is no fall greater than that from a prominent peak in today’s society, particularly in this, our day and age of newsertainment and reptilian partisanship. Governor Mark Sanford is political toast and, arguably, rightfully so. But. There is always a ‘but’.

How many other Marks and Matts, Bills and Bobs are out there wrestling with the very same complex weave of emotions, loyalty, fidelity, selfishness, guilt, lust, mortality and destiny? And, sadly, reality?

Yes, of course, there is the undeniable matter of the “public trust”, of the integrity, ethics, morality, honesty and fortitude of those few among us who are elected to represent us. They are held to a higher standard - rightly or wrongly - but, by virtue of their position in our society, they do have to answer to a wider audience than the rest of us.

Governor Sanford’s appearance before the press and a national viewership earlier today was, probably, as painful and gut wrenching as it appeared. There is no contesting that point. But. Yes, another ‘but’.

He set himself up for this all too public fall. His discretion was, basically, non existent. The manner in which he chose to say farewell to his lover, Maria, in Argentina, while essentially abandoning his Gubernatorial duties in the Palmetto State, indicates not only poor judgment but also a propensity for the spontaneous and sincere that we, as a people, seem not to want to have knowledge of in our elected officials. Sorry, Mark, we understand but we don’t accept. You’re the Goddamn Governor for Pete’s sake?!

At one point in his klieg light illuminated mea culpa, the Governor appeared to be working out his conflicting emotions for the first time; he looked as if he was giving voice to thoughts previously confined to his heart and head. As he spoke about how his relationship had began and flourished with maria over the years, he mentioned the “sparkle”. Who among us cannot in some way relate to “the sparkle”?

“That whole sparkling thing” was perhaps his most candid statement in that he verbally exposed a slice of meat that hangs very close to the bone. He had fallen for this woman and now, it was to be his undoing.

Mark Sanford has “loved and lost.” Is that better to “have never have loved at all”?

Over the last 30 years or so we have constructed the great arena in which public figures must live their lives and compete against their right to privacy and our voracious appetite to know all. Hypocrisy is not a new and novel product recently uncovered by technology; it has coursed through our minds since the dawn of man and woman. Had the Serpent been feminine would Adam have taken a bite?


Links:


http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/06/sanford_press_conference_leaves_unanswered_questio.php?ref=fpb

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0609/24168.html

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/us_world/2009/06/25/2009-06-25_sanford_and_sin_south_carolina_govs_buenos_aires_.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/26/us/26sanford.html?_r=1&ref=global-home

http://www.thestate.com/sanford/story/839930.html


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