Well, apparently last week was the one when all good little EFM-ers are supposed to decamp to the beach. Believe it or not, we Mitchells were not in Hawaii, but actually in Gov. Mark Sanford’s own state, South Carolina. If you were looking for some front-line reporting…well, sorry.
Actually, it was a bit surreal being there. I read about the “Where’s the governor?” stuff several days after it broke (at least in our family, news reaches the beach late). Then, the day of Gov. Sanford’s press conference, we were actually slated to have dinner with a former aide of his who is a friend of ours. I frankly didn’t think there’d be any real news. You can imagine my shock when around 3 p.m., as we were in the middle of our drive from the coast to the capital city, the DJ on the country radio station we were listening to said something about an affair. I honestly thought he was kidding, knowing Gov. Sanford not only to be a strong conservative but also a sincere Christian believer. In fact, it was so jarring that I decided not to write about it until I had made sense of it a bit more — who wants to speak rashly of a brother who is in a crisis?
With all of that said, I do agree with David’s comments on the wrongheadedness of the “Boy Scout” taunt against Gov. Romney. The situation in which the Sanford family finds itself is deeply sad, but that in which our culture finds itself — where the attitude deployed against people like Gov. Romney is fashionable — is probably even sadder, because it is more destructive, inasmuch as a culture affects an entire society, not just one family.
I also think we must laud Gov. Romney’s recent comments regarding public officials. Here’s what Politico had to say about the matter:
Discussing disgraced South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a fellow Republican, said governors and other national leaders are expected “to live by a higher standard because … the culture of the nation” can be hurt by their failings.
“Seeing this family become healed is our highest priority,” Romney said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“At the same time, and not commenting particularly on Governor Sanford, … people in public life ought to be held to a higher standard. … I heard one … former governor say, ‘Well, everybody makes mistakes.’ Well, that’s true.
“But not all mistakes are the same. And not everybody is a governor or a senator or a president. And we expect [those] people to live by a higher standard, because what they do is going to be magnified, their families are going to be hurt more by what they do, the things they care about will be hurt, and the culture of the nation
and the people who follow them will be hurt.”
And further down in the story, I must say, is a real gem from Sen. Lindsey Graham, a fellow South Carolinian. Sen. Graham is Sen. John McCain’s favorite Republican and, not coincidentally, not mine. But he was right on here:
Moderator David Gregory asked: “Is the Republican Party still a party of values?”
“Yeah — I think we’re a party of sinners,” Graham replied with a chuckle, “just like every other group in America. But we’re also a party that openly talks about good things. It is good for Mark and Jenny to get back together, if that’s possible, ’cause it’s good for families to have a mom and dad. And it’s OK to talk about those things.”
This was particularly striking to me because every week, our church publishes a statement in the bulletin beginning with the fact that we are “a church of sinners.” And I know we have to be careful about the parallels we draw between a church and a political party, but I think they’re still there. Our church cares about holiness, but acknowledges that we Christians will fall short and need help. The Republican Party cares (or at least should) about good moral values, but should acknowledge that some of its members will still fall short. In neither case does our falling short invalidate what we believe in. It just indicates that we are not perfect.
Kudos to both Gov. Romney and Sen. Graham for their comments. And pray for the Sanfords.