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Posts Tagged ‘Mark Sanford’


Friday, June 26th, 2009

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by Brien Jackson

I don’t really have very much to say about the Gov. Sanford debacle. I don’t particularly subscribe to the notion that adultery is no big deal, especially when there are kids involved, but I also don’t think it’s much of a reason to tear down public officials, especially when there’s so many things about them that are so much work. Although I guess there really isn’t much of a leap from ditching your family, including 4 kids, on Father’s Day to go fornicate with an Argentine woman in South America to trying to toss thousands of families off of unmployment insurance in the midst of a very serious recession is there? And I think that’s what bothers me the most about this; as screwed up as this scenario is, at the end of the day, it’s nowhere near as bad as Sanford’s active attempts to cause a lot fo very real suffering to very real people in his state.

With regards to the future, I’d say his political career is pretty much over. It might be possible to survive something like this, but not, I don’t think, if you’ve made a big deal about family values, and not given the sheer bizarreness level of this whole story. Sanford might be able to appeal to the more libertarian contingent of the GOP in 2012 if he does decide to go ahead with a Presidential run, but that’s just not a sizeable enough bloc to deliver many, if any, delegates, and certainly not enough to keep him in the hunt in a crowded field. And this coming from a guy who, if you made me choose, would have been the prohibitive favorite for the nomination. This may be one of the great political flameouts of all time.

When Ambition Hurts

Friday, March 20th, 2009

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by Brien Jackson

On the perennial dilemna of Governors harboring national political ambitions, Anonymous Liberal writes:

Governors with presidential ambitions often spend much of their time in office trying to raise their profile and pad their resume for a future presidential run. That’s to be expected, and in general, it’s not a bad thing for the people of their state. Yes, these governors probably spend a little too much time in Iowa and New Hampshire, but they also tend to do things to bring positive attention to their states. Governor Mitt Romney, for instance, worked with Democrats in his state to construct a universal health care system, the first such system in the country. Though his ultimate ambitions were clear, he attempted to further them by creating a record of accomplishment as governor.

What’s happening now, though, is very different. The Republican governors with presidential ambitions are tripping over each other to be the one that hoses over his own constituents the most.

This is, of course, pretty obvious. Ever 4 years, you get a rash of Governors who kick around the idea of running for President, and this generally leads them to try to do a lot of good things for their state in order to create a list of accomlishments to, possibly, run on. Similarly, Governors often run for the Senate after leaving office which, again, is usually predicated on being remembered fondly by the voters of their state. Here, however, you have a rather odd scenario in which a group of Republican Presidential aspirants have decided the best way to further their national ambitions is to give the residents of their state the shaft. And, perversely, they’re probably right. It’s certainly not hard to imagine a non-Gubernatorial candidate for President, say, Mitt Romney, criticizing any governor who accepts federal money as only paying lip service to their opposition, and it’s also not that hard to see national Republican voters punishing them for it. So the real lesson here is how decrepit the national Republican Party has really become, that in order to succeed internally, Republican governors must sacrifice the people of their states on the altar of ambition.

I do hope, however, that the DNC and various state Democratic parties make a point of connecting the actions of Sarah Palin and Mark Sanford to their naked political ambitions and, by extension, the national GOP.

Republicans Don’t Understand Republicans

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

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To answer Matt’s question, and to follow up on something I wrote yesterday, another interesting thing to ponder about the Deep South (and Alaska!) Governors considering turning down federal stimulus money is who, exactly, they think they’re playing to. It’s certainly true that the rump presence of the Congressional GOP is disproportionately right-wing, and Southern, but is there any indication that the national GOP is in the same boat? Well, not really.

Remember that the Republican Presidential primary, like the Democratic primry, consists of capturing delegates. But unlike the Democratic Party, the Republicans do not have a uniform standard for delegate allocation, favoring instead a system that yields an early end to the contest. This includes states that are winner-take-all, some that are proportional, and some that are a mix. It also, ironically, is one that favors big states, at least with the 2008 schedule. New York, New Jersey, and Florida are all winner take all contests, and California is winner take all by Congressional district. It was in these states, plus Arizona and Missouri, that John McCain won the nomination. In fact, he didn’t win a single Deep South contest, other than South Carolina. Mike Huckabee swept the rest…and was completely crushed in the delegate count by McCain. And with a Democratic incumbent in 2012, independents who want to vote in a primary election are going to flood into the GOP process, making it even more moderate than usual.

In other words, even if it weren’t the case that governors were largely judged on the basis of performance, and could get by with being ideological standard bearers, Jindal, Sanford, Palin, and Barbour are playing to an ideological base that has no power whatsoever even in the GOP primary process. It’s possible, of course, that the rules could drastically changes before 2012, but that seems like an awfully big thing to bet on now, doesn’t it?

Banking on teh Crazy

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

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I haven’t yet commented on the Republican governors considering declining their state’s stimulus money (or actually doing it), mostly because I haven’t yet figured out what I think about it. Steve Benen calls it a race to out crazy one another, but that seems a little too credulous for my liking.

First of all, the obvious connection between Governors Jindal, Palin, Barbour, and Sanford is that they’d all like to be President, and are all clearly convinced that opposing the stimulus is your best bet in the Republican Party. And I’m sure that’s a wise calculation, but there’s a bit of a difference between opposing the bill and actively turning down money for your state. As I noted the other day, national politics is relatively short on governors who served during economic downturns, mostly because it’s hard to accumulate a list of accomplishments to run on as a result. You get to cut spending on state services, and that’s a hard sell to make down the road, even to the national Republican Party. So I suppose these governors are trying to distinguish themselves, but it seems a little odd all the same.

For one thing, they’re taking an awfully big gamble. Congressional Republicans opposing the stimulus bill makes sense; if it works you’re not going to get credit regardless, but if it fails, or is seen to have failed, you can gain from having opposed it. Now that it’s passed, any governor actually thinking about turning down the money is betting on an awfully big stretch; that their state’s economy will do better than the rest of the country without the money. That’s the only way this can really work out as a positive for them, and the only way they could really sell this nationally. Obviously that’s quite a bit unlikely, and the downside is much starker; the national economy recovers, at least somewhat, while your state continues to suffer, or even to recover at a pace slower than the national average. In that case you’ve not only hurt your own personal political career, you’ve provided an incredibly stark, side by side comparison of two competing worldviews, and if you bust you’ll have a hard time defending your entire ideology for a generation or so. It won’t be an abstract debate over competing economc theories, it will be an objective assessment of the two theories played out in real time.

Of course, it’s also possible that the governors are trying to short circuit the plan. That theory would be bolstered by what has been refused so far; Jindal wants to refuse additional millions for unemployment insurance, and Sanford is going to refuse money to make buildings more energy efficient. These are not only some of the most popular aspects of the package, but also among the most stimulative. The wrench in this view, I think, it that it’s just hard to see how refusing money to be spent in Louisiana or South Carolina is going to have a huge ripple effect on the national economy. Neither state is all that big, and there’s nothing particularly special about either state that gives it a disproportionate impact on the national economy. So the most likely outcome is that these state economies lag behind the rest of the country, which is bad for the citizens in those states, but also bad for the governors managing the situation as well.

It is, in other words, totally crazy.

In Defense of Earmarks

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

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If there’s one aspect of governing I would really like some profile in courage to set the record straight on, it’s earmarks. Yes there’s a certain amount of procedural corruption around them, but that’s a matter of process that can be rectified in the Congress. More substantively, earmarks allow for a certain amount of macro planning in spending in which the federal government can make sure projects mesh together, instead of just handing money to states to use at their discretion, possibly in counterproductive ways. Now maybe you don’t want all of the planning done at the federal level, or at least not by members of Congress looking out for their own fortunes, but a blended system still requires earmarks, not cutting them out entirely.

And if you take the racial aspect out of this story, you’ve got an even better case for them:

“He can’t come up with a solid argument” in favor of the earmarks, Sanford said.


President-elect Obama has said he wants a stimulus that is free of earmarks.

Clyburn, in comments made to Roll Call, called for allowing federal money included in the stimulus to be sent back home to lawmakers’ districts. Sanford and others say that’s an end-around that would allow earmarks in the legislation without calling them such.

The money would bypass governors’ offices and instead go straight to communities. Clyburn disagrees with Sanford, who opposes accepting that federal money.

Clyburn’s issue here is pretty straight forward; Sanford is a libertarian wingnut who doesn’t think the federal government should do much of anything, and he puts his money, no pun intended, where his mouth is by refusing to accept federal funds for South Carolina. Sanford even refused federal money to keep the state’s unemployment fund operating when it was about to dry up completely, which was too wingnutty even for South Carolina. So what Clyburn is looking for is a way to direct the money to his constituents and the people of South Carolina in a way that bypasses the wingnut Governor who clearly doesn’t much care for the public welfare of South Carolina citizens. Hardly a corrupt position on his part, but one that underscores that these things aren’t usually a good vs. evil matter (anywhere outside of John McCain’s imagination anyway), and demonstrates yet again why Democrats shouldn’t acquiesce to wingnut talking points.

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