Republican Mark Sanford’s convincing victory over Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch in the South Carolina special election to fill a vacant House seat may mark a turning point in the politics of GOP sex scandals. Simply put, Sanford refused to pursue the traditional GOP path of settling into a new life of disgraced obscurity. He went for the comeback, and he pulled it off.
It would be a fool’s errand to inquire into whether one political party has the edge over the other in matters of sexual morality. But it does seem clear which has been the more moralistic party in such matters, and it’s not the Democrats. Republicans have been defending marriage and promoting abstinence for decades—often, as it happened, more in the breach than the observance. And for years, this has meant that the party disappears those who stray. A classic example is the tale of the downfall of Republican congressman Mark Souder. He resigned in 2010 in order to avoid an ethics committee investigation into his affair with a part-time female staffer, Tracy Meadows Jackson, with whom he had made a video promoting abstinence education. Continue reading