This is Mark Sanford’s first ad for his new congressional campaign:
For those not up to speed, Mark Sanford is the former governor of South Carolina, and was tipped to be a major contender as a social conservative for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, until he “disappeared” while hiking in a national park. His disappearance was later revealed to be nothing but a cynical attempt to hide the fact that he was in Argentina with his mistress. This naturally led to his resignation from office and divorce. Since he no longer has any credibility as a social conservative, he has adopted the Tea Party banner in an attempt to restart his political career.
Let us set aside the question of forgiveness for a moment, and talk about trust:
- If you had a friend who borrowed your car, got in a horrific accident costing you thousands of dollars, and then tried to cover it up, would you let him borrow your car a second time, even after you had forgiven him?
- If you had a wife who had gone on a business trip alone with a co-worker and then had an affair with that same co-worker and tried to cover it up, even if your forgave her and stayed married to her, would you let her go on a business trip with that co-worker again?
- If you had a son who had overdosed on heroin and almost died, would you let him go out with the same friends he had always gone out shooting up drugs with, even if your son promised to be good and just watch while the others got high?
- If you bought a house from a man, and then found out the deed was fraudulent, would you buy anything from that man again, or ever believe anything he said?
We can go on and on with examples like this, but the basic point is that there is a difference between forgiving someone, and being a sap. Our own conclusion when Sanford resigned as governor was that he had been playing his constituents for fools all along. Why should anyone believe him now?
Then again, anyone with even a cursory knowledge of counseling or 12-Step programs will tell you that one key to successful rehabilitation is to avoid the places and people which are associated with the past problem behaviors. On that basis, even if we believed the best about Mark Sanford, the last place we would want to see him is in an elected office. And those who profess to care most about him would be telling him not to run.