Sanford focusing no energy on veep possibility? Get real, Joel

Did you see this quote from Joel Sawyer of the governor’s office in today’s paper?

    Joel Sawyer, a Sanford spokesman, said the governor finds the interest in him “very flattering” but views it as pure speculation.”
    “It’s nothing that he has been focusing any of his time and energy on,” Sawyer said.

Oh, really? Come now, Joel. Take a look at Saturday’s editorial page in The Wall Street Journal:

The Conservative Case for McCain
March 15, 2008; Page A10
    …Fortunately, the presidential election offers us a real choice in how to address the fiscal mess. To use a football analogy, we’re at halftime; and the question for conservatives is whether to get off the bench for the second half of the game.
    I sat out the first half, not endorsing a candidate, occupied with my day job and four young boys at home. But I’m now stepping onto the field and going to work to help John McCain. It’s important that conservatives do the same…

This piece would be bizarre on several levels even without the otherwordly rumors about Sanford as a possible veep choice (which persist in spite of all logic). Mark Sanford is not a rah-rah, sis-boom-bah kind of Republican. His disdain for standard party boosterism is a noteworthy part of who he is. If fact, he’s not a team player of any kind, party or otherwise.

Add to that the fact that he did sit the game out when it counted, when every other Republican of statewide stature was taking a risk by taking a stand — DeMint for Romney; Graham, McMaster and Harrell for McCain (even when McCain looked down and out). Finally, when he did "endorse" the inevitable nominee, he did so in the most desultory, back-handed, even outright insulting kind of way — with Joel having to be asked, and essentially responding that yeah, OK, the governor supported him, why not…

Finally, there’s the odd conceit in the piece about Mark Sanford being some sort of national "conservative" leader who can step in and give the thumbs-up. Mark Sanford’s national constituency is the Club for Growth and other libertarians, NOT the kind of traditional conservatives who were voting for Mike Huckabee in the last weeks of the process. I read that, and I picture Mark Sanford the loner suddenly stepping into a roomful of conservative activists and saying, "OK, guys, let’s get behind McCain," and the others in the room say, "Who’s this guy? Where’d he come from?"

And what would be his motivation to suddenly pop up and do something that out of character? I can imagine no purpose other than trying to give the McCain folks the impression that he, Mark Sanford, is the kind of guy who has that kind of juice with the people in the party whom McCain needs to get right with. Mark Sanford’s mind works in mysterious ways, so there might be some other explanation.

But until we hear it, I find the assertion that the governor has exerted NO energy toward trailing his coat for the veep nod to be incredible.

Oh, yeah: You don’t want to miss the ending of this piece, which is so out of character that you have to check the footer to make sure this is the same Mark Sanford (and indeed, it says "Mr. Sanford, a Republican, is the governor of South Carolina."):

    The contrast between the two opposing teams is stark. It is time for the entire conservative squad to step onto the field. Who will join me in helping our team get the ball and move it down the field?

Who will join ME, the unquestioned team player and leader, in getting out there and winning one for the McGipper? As though anyone ELSE but Mark Sanford has been sitting on the bench…

What can you say to that but, "Boola-Boola?"

22 thoughts on “Sanford focusing no energy on veep possibility? Get real, Joel

  1. Richard L. Wolfe

    Although, I agree with you that Sanford would make a better Veep for Ron Paul. There is no logical reason for McCain to pick Sanford. I fail to see how it would help him. I think this is a case of much ado about nothing.

  2. Bill C.

    Yawn… Brad has nothing to say so he digs up more crap to bash Sanford about. The only thing I can say is at least Sanford has enough people behind him to elect him governor, Brad would have a tough time getting elected paperboy of the year.

  3. Daniel

    What’s surprizing to me about Brad’s constant attacks on Gov. Sanford isn’t really the content – he doesn’t think Sanford is a good governor, and thinks he would make a worse vice president. Fine. It’s more Brad’s tone. Calling it vitriolic would be an understatement.
    Brad titled a recent post “Why would Sanford be a disastrous choice for McCain? Don’t get me started.” Whoever Brad was speaking to, I wish they’d taken him up.

  4. Brad Warthen

    You say I dug something up? You’re kidding, right? It was published in The Wall Street Journal, which I and a lot of people read daily. I didn’t have to go through the governor’s wastebasket or read his diary or anything.
    And I’m curious, because I get this accusation from time to time — where’s this “vitriol” you’re seeing? I use pretty much the same tone for positive, negative, or in-between posts.
    Be specific. And tell me what it is you disagree with. Do you think the governor, in writing that piece, was NOT trailing his coat for McCain, hoping to get on his good list?

  5. ted

    Mark Sanford sat out the ‘first half” because he was waiting on one of the northern candidates to NEED him to get through SC. But the need never materialized…and he lost his chance.
    Look…Sanford is a classic narcissist and therefore will say or do anything to promote himself. He only sees his need and is incapable of seeing the needs of others. He raises political capital, and then hordes it. He never spends it, so his numbers stay high. As always, it is always about Mark.
    But his closet is getting full of skeletons. As he starves needed programs in SC, it is discovered he has “hidden” 275 million dollars at his cabinet agencies of Health and Human Services and Commerce. The House has reclaimed 105 million of it, and it remains to be seen if the Senate has the guts to take back the rest…if they decide to, it could get very rough for Sanford.
    He has collected million of dollars from out of state special interest and refuses to disclose why these rich people secretly gave him money. So, instead of being OUR governor, he is the governor of this handful of rich people that have special reasons to give him big bucks.
    The list goes on…and the national press corps is not as lazy as the locals, so I think time has passed Sanford by. But he will be ok…he can take all those millions he stashed away in the last 6 years and live a very nice life. So in the end…being Gov of SC has worked out very well for our elitist, plantation owing friend, Mark Sanford.

  6. weldon VII

    Monday’s Letter to the Editor had you pegged, Brad. You’re obsessed.
    After criticizing Sanford’s lukewarm endorsement of McCain the other day, you should be pleased he upped the ante and touted McCain full bore in a national medium.
    But, no, you’re back on the attack when, if anything, you should be apologizing for criticizing Sanford’s half-hearted endorsement the other day.
    Pretty well-written piece he gave the WSJ, I’d say. Not many S.C. governors, or other governors, might have done so well.
    Like the Letter to the Editor said, you really ought to give Sanford the respect he’s due and give your campaign against him a rest.

  7. David

    Sanford isn’t a bad guy. He had some good ideas, although execution hasn’t been his strong suit.
    But, let’s be real: He will not be selected as McCains’ running mate. No matter how shiny Sanfords’ conservative “badge” is, he is NOT VP material. He would add NOTHING to the electability of McCain, and you can bet McCain is scheming and angling right now to figure out who would be the best VP choice to help him get in. This is true because McCain has so many negatives: Lack of conservative credentials, volatile and unpredictable character, willingness to embrace liberals and liberals causes whenever the mood takes him, age, etc, etc etc.
    McCain needs a running mate that speaks to the conservative base and at the same time means something to people in states that aren’t as staunchly conservative. Sanford is a no-name guy from a no-name state. His ears may get tickled by the buzz, but he will never be a VP. David

  8. Hermie

    Pointing out discrepancies in what Sanford’s spokesman says and what Sanford is doing isn’t bashing the governor. The hard truth of the matter, I believe, is that Warthen sees the guy for what he is, something that is difficult for the “true believers” who voted for him twice and think he’s actually done something, anything, good for this state. I voted for him…once. You know how it goes: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

  9. Bill C.

    I also read the letter to the editor, this constant attacking of the governor got old a long time ago. I’m just glad that I’m not alone. Brad is like a two year old spoiled brat who is throwing a temper tantrum, and gets madder by the minute because nobody listens to him. Brad the horse died long ago, you can drop the stick and pick up a shovel. There will always be the choir for Brad to preach to, but even they have to be getting tired of the same old sermon day after day.

  10. david

    Hermie, I agree that Sanford has accomplished little. I actually am kind of glad when government is gridlocked, as it means that personal freedom has probably been protected.
    In any case, it is true that Sanford has been largely ineffectual. Can you not see however that his ineffectiveness might have a lot to do with the obstructionist bunch of clowns that occupy the state legislature? The primary reason in my mind that state government in South Carolina is what it is, is that the state legislature is a joke. It is pretty unfair to blame all of the failings in our state on the guy in the governors’ mansion. He’s had a lot of help failing. David

  11. Austin Smith

    Did it ever occur to you that Sanford and McCain might be friends? Do you think that letter was unsolicited? Also, what is so wrong with staying out of a primary that includes multiple people with whom you have relationships? At least consider some other possibilities…

  12. Brad Warthen

    Yeah, I did (consider other possibilities). I do, every day.
    It’s very interesting to me that anyone would think that the editorial page editor is “obsessed” because every week or so he says something about the most prominent political figure (in spite of the relative weakness of the office of governor in our state) in the state.
    Folks, if I wrote about Ron Paul every day, THAT would be an obsession — and an inexplicable one at that. If more than a couple of days pass between one mention of the governor and another, it would be reasonable for someone to accuse me of neglecting my job.
    In fact, since you made me think about it, I just went into the TypePad guts of this blog and did some searches. Do you know how many times I’ve mentioned “Sanford” in the past month? 19 times. Know how many times I’ve mentioned “Obama” (and mind you, this is long after our primary)? 19 times. How many times for McCain? Hmmm. 19 times. This is getting weird.
    Better do a check and make sure this search thing’s working. When’s the last time I mentioned Segolene Royal? OK, it’s working. It says not at all in the past month — not since last June, in fact.
    Anyway, the above results argue that I don’t mention the governor enough, not that I mention him to often.
    And before you say, “But you keep bringing him up in the context of this veep thing,” to which I say, no I do not. Others keep bringing it up, over and over and over again. And every few times I hear it, I say something. Such is my duty, as someone who knows him and has observed him far more closely than the people who keep bringing it up.

  13. Daniel

    As to your vitriol, I don’t know what to say other than your tone toward the governor has gotten excessively negative. You’re no longer able to simply express disagreement; everything has to be taken to the extreme of negativity.
    A Republican governor writes an op-ed supporing the Republican presidential nominee and it’s “bizarre.”
    Sanford’s endorsement of McCain (which was merely a response by the spokesman to a reporter’s question) was “desultory, back-handed, even outright insulting.”
    Apparently Sanford suffers from an “odd conceit” for deigning to write a piece for the WSJ (that he was asked to write).
    The political reasons for McCain not to choose Sanford are “painfully obvious” (although apprently only to The State’s editorial board).
    He would be a “disastrous choice” as VP.
    There is a “universe of better options” than Sanford.
    I’m sure you believe all these things, and after all, it’s your blog. You just shouldn’t act so amazed that most people disagree with you. The guy on the street thinks you’re a jerk.
    As for your second question, I think it’s perfectly reasonably for Sanford to pen the op-ed for reasons other than being VP. He and McCain were friends and colleagues, and Sanford supported his campaign in 2000. Sanford didn’t this time around (oh wait, I think you’ve chronicled that a few times). It’s perfectly reasonable to me that Sanford would feel like he owes McCain a “solid,” and when asked to pen an op-ed in a newspaper right up his demographic alley (which the WSJ most certainly is, your daily readership notwithstanding), he was happy to. Of course, this doesn’t fit in with your theory of Sanford’s political career existing only to get himself on the vp ballot, so I’m sure that’s why you failed to even consider it as a possibility.

  14. Brad Warthen

    If those are the examples, I’m afraid I can’t accept service on the "vitriol" thing. Those examples are all pretty matter-of-fact.

    Anyway, back to where I started a moment ago, responding to Austin…

    Did it ever occur to you that Sanford and McCain might be friends? Actually, Sanford backed McCain in 2000 (as Daniel just mentioned), as did Lindsey Graham. Against that background, Sanford’s avoidance of the McCain candidacy this time round stood out in sharper relief — especially compared to Graham’s enthusiastic advocacy. It prompts the question (now that you bring that up): What happened? I’ve seen nothing that would answer that question.

    you think that letter was unsolicited?
    I don’t know, but it seem extremely doubtful that McCain or anyone in his immediate circle asked for it. There are so many people they would ask ahead of him. Now, did an editor at the Journal solicit it, or did someone with the Club for Growth suggest it? That’s possible, since the WSJ editorial board and the Club are philosophically simpatico with Sanford.

    Also, what is so wrong with
    staying out of a primary that includes multiple people with whom you
    have relationships?
    Nothing, except that Sanford is conspicuous for being the only prominent Republican in the state to have done so, something that in his case must be considered alongside his deserved reputation as a political loner. And what relationships do you see him as having with these folks?

    At least consider some other possibilities… Oh, I did. I thought, Did he write it to make up for the way he damaged himself among other Republicans with his standoffish position up until now? Is this a move on his part to be something he is not, which would be an actual leader among the conservative wing nationally? And everything I thought of, I came back to the fact that if he IS trailing his coat to get on McCain’s list, this would be the way, under the circumstances, to go about it. I was hoping maybe somebody would have a persuasive argument for another interpretation — that’s one of the purposes of having a blog, after all — but such has yet to emerge.

  15. Bill C.

    Okay Brad, you’ve written about McCain and Obama 19 times each. In those 19 each entries, how many times have you blasted them out of the water? How many times have you blasted Sanford out of the water in the past 19 entries? I’d say you’re batting 1.000 on Sanford and it’s getting really old.
    Why don’t you blast the state legislature equally? Are you afraid to upset your buddy Jakie? What will the state legislature accomplish this session… anything above what they’ve done in the past ten sessions would be a real surprise.
    Do you really know Sanford like you say you do? When is the last time you’ve had a one-on-one interview with Gov. Sanford? When is the last time you’ve sat in his office? I’m not saying I have, but I’m also not saying that I know him at a higher level then us poor soles who have to read the only so called “real” newspaper in Columbia.

  16. Bill C.

    “I was hoping maybe somebody would have a persuasive argument for another interpretation — that’s one of the purposes of having a blog, after all — but such has yet to emerge.”
    I see, they’re wrong unless you tell them otherwise.
    “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”
    — Wizard of Oz

  17. Daniel

    Brad, your opinion is distinctly in the minority. You express it with great fervor, and dismiss those who disagree with you. Thus, the majority finds your rants grating to their nerves. Again, it’s your blog (and your editorial page) – so you should do whatever you want. Just quit acting surprized that the average reader wouldn’t want to share a meal or beer with you.

  18. Daniel

    On reading my last comment again, I realize the last sentence didn’t come across as I intended it to. I meant that the average reader wouldn’t want to share a meal or beer with you while talking about Mark Sanford. Apologies if it sounded harsher than it was intended at first read.

  19. Brad Warthen

    So much for my buying YOU a beer, Dude.
    Seriously, don’t worry about it. The thing is, this stuff pretty much rolls off of me. I guess that’s why I wonder why some folks think I’m so rough on the gov. Criticism doesn’t bother me all that much, and the things I say about Mark Sanford seem pretty mild compared to so much of the rhetoric I find in the Blogosphere, including some of it aimed at me. I read back over what I’ve written, and it all seems pretty vanilla.
    I fully trust you that it seems different to you. But to me, it’s just matter-of-fact. Maybe that’s because I communicate so much with people who have had a lot of dealings with the governor, and among that universe of people, what I say is pretty much middle-of-the-road.
    The only thing that worries me about criticism is when I see a disconnect between what I have said and how some folks perceive it. So I return to the subject in an effort to clarify and smooth out the disparity. This is not always possible, but I like to try.

  20. Daniel

    The dialogue on your blog (whether Sanford-related or otherwise) is light-years beyond 99% of the Blogosphere, no question. Even when it comes to Sanford, it’s not your opinions or their bases that I take issue with because you always go the extra mile to back up your arguments.
    I’ve also communicated a lot with people who deal with the governor (because I worked for him), and you’re probably right that many of them wouldn’t take issue with the frustrations you’ve laid out.
    It’s just been an observation of mine over the past couple of months (corresponding with the rise of “Sanford for VP” rumors) that the tone of your Sanford posts has changed slightly. I can’t really put my finger on it, but I’ve noticed it. And I’ve had several others point it out to me independent of each other as well. The letter to the editor sort of brought it all together, I guess; something of a critical mass.
    At any rate, the civil and intelligent back-and-forth is appreciated, and is why people keep coming back to your blog regardless of whether they agree with you. That’s the main reason I wanted to clarify my last post – I think it’s worth it, given how hospitable you are over here.

  21. ted

    To know Sanford is to dislike him. The landscape in Columbia is littered with people that set out to be his friend, but ended up hating the man.
    If only more people in SC KNEW him…more would dislike him.
    He is a phoney…plain and simlle.

  22. weldon VII

    Nineteen, 19, 19. So you’re obsessed with Sanford, McCain and Obama. First you write you brought Sanford up “every week or so,” but then you admit to 19 instances in the last month.
    If a week is roughly equal to 1.6 days, you’re right on the mark, Brad.
    It really has got to where whatever Sanford does, or someone speaking for him does, no matter how innocent, you lash out at Sanford full bore. You’re firing a bazooka at a flyswatter’s worth of difficulty.
    Sanford endorsed a candidate you obviously think the world of with a reasonably well-written piece in the WSJ. You’d do the same thing yourself if you could, I would think.
    So what’s the problem? If Sanford’s gunning for VP, so what? If it’s wrong to want a place in politics that’s beyond one’s abilities, you should condemn half the occupants of our state’s legislature one by one, as well as most of the people who run against them unsuccessfully.
    Besides, Sanford’s a sight smoother than a good many of this year’s failed presidential candidates, his pathetic predecessor and the turncoat you endorsed, Mr. Payday Loan himself, Tommy Moore.
    Trust me. Your obsession in unbecoming for a man in your position.

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