Sanford and Ensign Gotta Go

Written by Jeff Johnson on June 28, 2009. Posted in General

Mark Sanford and John Ensign Should Resign

My beautiful wife and I just returned from a great weekend get-away to Baltimore for our 16th wedding anniversary. On the flight home today I read several newspapers; each one having a story about the GOP “brand” being further tarnished by those Republican officeholders who just can’t seem to keep their pants zipped up.

These stories – stemming of course from the recent admissions of infidelity by Sen. John Ensign and Governor Mark Sanford – force the following question: What should a party of values do about public officials who cheat while in office?

Bottom line for me, if you can’t keep your marital vows while in office, you should resign.

I hate to take such a stark position as I’ll likely come off as a moralizer.  I recognize that I’m a sinner just like everyone else. We all make mistakes and rotten choices.  Some of us, however, don’t choose to break the fundamental vows of marriage (although it’s been easy for me; I’ve got an awesome wife and relatively few hot young county board groupies knocking down my door).

And one has to ask the question, if an elected official is willing to repeatedly lie to those closest to him about an issue as basic and fundamental as fidelity, isn’t he likely to lie about practically anything to anyone?

This is particularly troubling for very high-level officials.  Cheating while in office for these folks not only means they’re dishonest, but it also shows that they have absolutely horrendous judgment, as anyone would know that their escapades would eventually become public.  In the 21st Century, if you’re a Governor or U.S. Senator (or President – lest we forget Bill Clinton), this is a secret that simply can’t be kept.

Do we really want people representing us who have shown a ready willingness to repeatedly lie and, as a bonus, have the judgment of a toddler?

I say all of this recognizing that there is a double standard here between Republicans and Democrats.  For example, I don’t recall a similar barrage of stories last year about how the affairs of Sen. John Edwards and Gov. Eliot Spitzer were going to weaken the Democrat Party.

Many liberals even admit to the double standard, arguing that those who “preach family values” (which I think applies to those of us who oppose abortion and gay marriage) should be held to a higher standard than others.  It’s a really weak excuse for a double standard, but short of admitting simple partisan bias, it’s really all they’ve got.

That double standard, however, does not change my opinion.  And while it’s painful for me to say, as I’ve held high hopes for both of these men, I think Ensign and Sanford should both resign.  There are probably thousands of men and women in Nevada and South Carolina who could ably fill their places while also managing that simple task of keeping a basic promise to their family and spouse.

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