Jennifer Rubin doesn't think so:
South Carolina's disgraced and disgraceful Mark Sanford - who lied to his staff and the public, went "walking on the Appalachian Trail," told no one of his whereabouts and wrecked his family - is running for Congress. He is madly playing for sympathy, telling crowds, "I am equally aware that God forgives people who are imperfect." This raises the question as to whether the people of South Carolina should forgive him, and moreover, whether forgiveness entails entrusting him with a new public office.
He'd like to characterize his misdeeds as "personal," but they were anything but. As you may recall, Sanford used public funds for a tryst. This is a small-government conservative careful with the taxpayers' money? Moreover, he doubled down on his misbehavior, insisting for some time that he had used his own funds. Eventually, he was forced to repay $9,000.
Rubin is factually correct, but facts rarely play a role in the American people's eagerness to forgive and forget. Rubin writes how Peter Wehner goes to the trouble of instructing us how we should judge infedelity in a public official:
Pete Wehner wrote about how we should evaluate infidelity in a candidate for office:
Facts and circumstances are crucial. Was the infidelity an isolated instance or a chronic pattern? Were the transgressions long ago or recent? What levels of deception and cover-up were involved? What was the position of authority the person held when the infidelity occurred? Was there an alarming degree of recklessness on display? What evidence is there that this person has changed his ways? Has this person shown other worrisome signs when it comes to character and trustworthiness?
Under this rubric Sanford strikes out on nearly every point.
Whether it's a celebrity, a sports star, or a politician, America loves a good comeback story. Politicians know this and shamelessly play to the crowd in seeking forgiveness.
Of course, this doesn't mean that Sanford will win - or even triumph in the prinary. But the sad fact is, the former governor's transgressions will not disqualify him from the race - even though it should.