Everyone has been taken by surprise by the speed with which Americans have embraced the notion of gay marriage. Even progressive leaders like President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were left playing catch-up. Now, it seems, sexual peccadilloes by politicians are no longer thought grave enough for them to be cast into the outer darkness forever. Are we becoming a super-liberal society? If so, what happened to the “moral majority” that dominated politics for so long?
The latest fallen pol to start over is Eliot Spitzer, the sometime governor of New York, who by day prosecuted whorehouse madams and by night enjoyed their services. “I’m hopeful there will be forgiveness,” he told the New York Times. “I am asking for it.” After resigning in disgrace in 2007, Spitzer served time as a talking head on CNN and Current TV, which many may think is penance enough.
Spitzer’s speedy self-rehabilitation follows on the heels of Anthony Weiner, the vain, boastful, exhibitionist U.S. congressman from New York who tweeted to women he didn’t know photographs of his briefs. While Spitzer is a top drawer hypocrite, willing to use the full force of the law against prostitutes while consorting with them on the side, Weiner is just a chump without self control or judgment. Despite this essential drawback to someone who aspires to be mayor of New York, Weiner is currently favorite to succeed Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
When it comes to brass neck, however, neither Spitzer nor Weiner come anywhere near Mark Sanford. He was the governor of South Carolina and father of four who resigned after liaising with his Argentine mistress while telling his staff that he was wandering the Appalachian Trail. Despite being the sort of weasel who gives heterosexual marriage a bad name, the good people of South Carolina were so forgiving they elected him their U.S. Congressman.
Spitzer may be a double-dealer and Weiner a mug, but Sanford is a hypocrite in every direction: a family-values Republican who unceremoniously dumped his wife and children for another woman; a fiscal conservative who blew taxpayers’ money on flights to his lover; and a law-and-order conservative who repeatedly entered his former wife’s home despite a restraining order. If that is not enough to turn the stomach, the first time Sanford introduced his 14-year-old son to the woman who broke up the family was in the full glare of cameras at his victory party.