- The Washington Times - Friday, June 26, 2009


We appreciate South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s hypocrisy. With no tongue in cheek at all, we say American society desperately needs more men of his character.

It might be an odd moment to point this out, but it is far better for a governor on a personal “odyssey” to be a hypocrite than a relativist. At least a hypocrite has standards, albeit ones he can’t always live up to. A relativist has no standards; everything is relative, remember? And militant relativists are more offended by standards themselves than by adultery.

Listening to the philosophers on the cable-chat shows, we hear an endless attack on standards themselves. It was foolish of Mr. Sanford to vote to impeach President Clinton if he was going to cheat himself, one will say. (Someone with standards would say that Mr. Clinton and Mr. Sanford both deserve censure, and that therefore, then-Rep. Sanford’s vote was correct.) Another will chime in: This is what happens when you endorse family values. (No, it is what happens when you don’t practice what you preach.)

The message seems to be that conservatives of both parties should abandon family values because it is a safe career move. Actually, it isn’t. The middle-class majority wants political leaders to stand up for the freedom of individuals to form and manage families their own way. We have long noted that traditional-values voters are more willing to accept sincere contrition than secular environmentalists shocked that their congressman owns a sport utility vehicle.

Finally, some Socrates of cable will say that no one can live up to these standards. This is an insult to millions. Actually, most Americans remain faithful to their spouses. Temptation may whisper or roar, but they stay true. Yes, the social safeguards of modesty and chastity may be gone. We are living in a world where Web sites like AshleyMadison.com (slogan: “Life is short. Have an affair”) actually enable extramarital affairs, while celibacy and monogamy are treated as perversions rather than hard-won achievements. Still, most remain committed, and only nihilistic relativists pretend otherwise.

We are not going to opine on the state of Mr. Sanford’s soul or of his marriage. We will leave that to God and his wife, both of whom we hope are in a forgiving mood. But we are glad that in this trying hour, Mr. Sanford did not bluster that he was right or attack traditional standards. His was an honest hypocrite, which may be the best we can expect from politicians these days.

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