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On the Sanford Affair

Posted By Don Boudreaux On June 28, 2009 @ 11:04 am In Current Affairs,Politics | Comments Disabled

Here’s a letter that I sent yesterday to the Boston Globe:

Dear Editor:

Scott Lehigh argues that “infidelities shouldn’t end political careers [1]” (June 26) – to which I say: it depends.

A politician who holds himself or herself out as a savior – as such a paragon of virtue that he or she can be trusted with vast swaths of our lives and property – certainly should not be suffered to remain in office once that person is revealed to be simply another ordinary human being, as faulty as the rest of us.

In the case of Gov. Mark Sanford, however, he’s that rare politician who does not fancy himself to be more sagacious or virtuous than the rest of us. While not excusing Mr. Sanford’s broken promises to his wife and family – or his use of public funds to finance his trysts – I regret the likely loss to the public of an official who never posed as being worthy to lord it over ordinary human beings.

Sincerely, Donald J. Boudreaux

Mr. Sanford’s use of public funds to pay for his tryst-inspired trips is the far worse offense to the public. As for the much-commented-upon fact that Mr. Sanford disappeared without letting any other South Carolina officials know of his whereabouts, well, Mr. Sanford understands that states are not really governed by governors — that if a high-ranking government official is absent, dead, or comatose, the society will still continue along productively. The idea that the people of South Carolina were in some sort of danger because their governor was AWOL is absurd.

Having said that, I doubt that Mr. Sanford’s political philosophy played much of a role in his excuse-making for his secret trips. Mr. Sanford no doubt had only one thing on his mind and he behaved irresponsibly and immorally — chiefly to his family.

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[1] Scott Lehigh argues that “infidelities shouldn’t end political careers: http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2009/06/26/infidelities_shouldn8217t_end_political_careers/

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