Obviously, he hasn’t met OUR governor

Seeking a column for tomorrow's page, I took a look at a writer I haven't run before (near as I can recall), Dick Polman of The Philadelphia Inquirer, who had written a column headlined, "Governing in the Real World."

It was pretty standard stuff, noting a tendency that usually holds true: The more local the level of government, the more pragmatic the people who serve in it. Governors are almost always more practical and less ideological than members of Congress, and mayors even more so. To cite the cliche, there's nothing Republican or Democratic about filling potholes or picking up the garbage.

But reading this column at this moment, with our own governor on my mind, I was struck by the fact that if Mr. Polman only knew Mark Sanford, he'd rethink his premise. An excerpt from the piece:

One big difference between governors and congressmen is that governors are out there on the front lines, dealing with the real everyday needs of their citizens. Whereas members of Congress can afford to retreat into ideology, governors have no such luxury.

Which brings us to Charlie Crist, the popular Republican governor of Florida, who today may well be known nationwide for two things: (a) the deepest tan since George Hamilton, and (b) the man-hug that he shared on Tuesday with President Obama.

Crist epitomizes the gap that separates Republican governors (who are trying desperately to safeguard the welfare of their citizens), and Republican members of Congress (who are opposing the Obama stimulus package that would help the governors safeguard the welfare of their citizens). Many of the Republican governors face huge budget deficits, thanks to the recession; they would welcome the infusion of federal money, which would allow them to keep paying (among others) the teachers and the firefighters and the unemployment checks of the jobless.

In other words, governors have to be practical. They can't take refuge in right-wing talking points that play well on the cable network talkfests, where ideological conflict makes for good TV.

That last sentence sounds as though Mr. Polman were describing Mark Sanford, which reminds us that 
at heart, our governor is still that congressional hermit who slept on his futon in Washington and advanced no significant legislation. Most people who leave that environment to become governor realize, even if they didn't before, that NOW they have responsibility to run things, to lead, to make sure government does what voters expect it to do. Not this guy. I've never seen anyone so unaffected in that way. You'd think he never left the futon.

Every move he makes — from lashing out at an Employment Security Commission that is embarrassing him by serving way to many unemployed people to jumping up and down and demanding look at me; I'm a governor who doesn't want stimulus money — is about a national audience of like-minded people, not about South Carolina and the challenges that face it. It's about the Club for Growth and the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal. The only logical explanation for his behavior would be national ambitions that make me shudder even to contemplate, so I'm not even going to mention them.

Even when he steps out on an issue that would seem to be about something else, we return to that same concern with ideology and a national audience. Environmentalists applauded his coming out yesterday against the coal-fired plant to the Pee Dee. But he didn't do it for their reasons (even though the environment is one of the few areas where he sometimes makes common cause with folks who might call themselves progressives). He was careful to make the point that no, this was more about the cost. He didn't want this state entity, Santee Cooper, spending the money. Which sort of makes you say, huh? Until you realize, oh yeah, he's not talking to US. He's talking to like-minded Republicans outside of South Carolina who will be thinking about whom to contribute money to in a year or two…

I just shuddered again.

39 thoughts on “Obviously, he hasn’t met OUR governor

  1. Brad Warthen

    By the way, it’s interesting that Mr. Polman would talk about Charlie Crist’s support of Obama’s stimulus. The exact same point was brought up yesterday by the S.C. Democratic Party, contrasting Florida’s gov with ours. An excerpt from the party release:

    Crist and most other Republican governors have put partisanship aside and come out in support of the stimulus plan which will create jobs, jumpstart growth and transform the country’s failing economy.   Unfortunately, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford isn’t one of these Republican governors.

    South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Carol Fowler said Tuesday she wishes Sanford would stop playing politics and support the bill which, at the same time it brings jobs to the state, could drastically improve  South Carolina’s struggling schools.

    Mark Sanford is SUCH a gift to Vincent Sheheen and other Democrats as they look toward 2010…

  2. Doug Ross

    What exactly do you expect to accomplish with your continued attacks on Sanford? Do you think he’s going to change?
    What principles are you willing to compromise on in the name of bi-partisanship? I’m waiting to hear your bi-partisan approach to school vouchers, abortion, the Confederate Flag, etc.
    Why can’t you understand that Sanford has a real problem with the stimulus package?

  3. bud

    Doug, don’t get Brad started on the “flag” issue again. Let’s let that sleeping dog lie. But I get your point. Brad’s all for compromise unless it’s one of his sacred cows.

  4. GoodGovt

    The general public agrees with Sanford on the stimulus/bailout issue.
    80% of the so-called “stimulus” bill is pork, and we’re adding another $1 TRILLION to the national debt.
    You’re missing the point. Obama is basically doubling down with the dealer showing Aces. It’s bad for the country now and will be even worse for our children.
    Apparently you hate Sanford so much you can’t recognize these facts.

  5. Brad Warthen

    My bipartisan solutions to the issues Doug names:
    — Vouchers are an idiotic idea, regardless of party. We don’t have them because sensible Republicans don’t want them any more than Dems. And the “compromise” that some put forth of just allowing it for low-income people has zero political legs because the actual constituency for vouchers here in the state (as opposed to the people from out of state financing the effort) is middle-class whites who already home school or send their kids to private schools and just want the tax break, and lawmakers know that.
    — Abortion: Overturn Roe, and let the state legislatures hash it out. (And what you will get for the most part is legal abortion, but with limitations, because that’s where the public is. In other words, compromise.) It’s ridiculous to be having presidential elections hinging on which way voters think the president will stack the courts on this one issue that has been artificially made into a “constitutional” one.
    — The flag. Take it down. Poll the business types that you market-oriented folk respect so much. Most will probably be Republicans, and most will want the flag gone and out of our lives so we can do business with the world without that hanging over us and making us look like somebody’s crazy uncle in the attic who doesn’t know what century this is.
    Now, back to the governor who is staking his political future on his grandstanding against the stimulus money that WILL be spent somewhere; he just wants to make sure it isn’t spent here…

  6. Capital A

    Sanford’s an idiot, I get that, but can someone explain to me how he believes his “service” to our state is going to augment his presidential election hopes? That charge is one I often hear leveled against him, but I can’t reckon how his “sterling” record would lead him or any of his supporters to thinking he would be a viable candidate for president.
    Of course, I wasn’t sure how Clemson fans would crank up their tractors and find their collective way to a bowl game in Boise, Idaho, either, but they did.
    And please don’t give the stock answer “But Bushbaby was elected president, so anything can happen!”.
    I really want to know how the consensus that our Goobernor was jockeying for the future presidency has emerged from his actions.

  7. Doug Ross

    Still waiting, Brad, for you to explain what issues YOU are willing to compromise on?
    Assuming Roe V. Wade was sent back to the states, would The State take a “let the people decide” position? Would you personally accept abortion as a choice others could make? or would your fundamental beliefs prevent you from ever supporting a compromise (i.e. what we have now with Roe V. Wade)?
    It’s all in who’s ox is being gored.

  8. Capital A

    I should have added that I am looking for evidence other than what Warthime has mentioned previously in his concluding paragraph, something more direct and less circumstantial, if possible.

  9. Brad Warthen

    Sanford’s not looking for a record of accomplishments, but one of ideological purity. On that score, he’s doing a heckuva job.
    Doug, I don’t know what you want. You want me to personally believe in something other than what I believe? That has nothing to do with compromise. Compromise is something you reach between what you believe and other people believe.
    And when you say “let the people decide,” I hope you’re not suggesting that I support government by plebiscite. I absolutely do not. I believe in the republican system of government envisioned by Madison et al., in which our elected representatives deliberate among themselves and make the decisions. In a republic, the voters don’t make the laws; they elect those who do.
    And you think “Roe” is a compromise? In what universe? Roe was an absolute victory for the pro forces. And by making it a constitutional “right,” it put it beyond the realm of deliberation or compromise. Folks on the other side would like to have an absolute victory, too, such as a right to life amendment or something. Both sides would love to put the issue beyond the reach of the political branches, where compromises occur. As long as its one “right” versus another one, it’s all about one side or the other winning completely.
    That’s what Roe gave us. I’m the guy who wants to take the issue out of that absolutist sphere and put it where compromises can be made. (Something I don’t look forward to, by the way. Right now we don’t have to argue about this emotional issue on the editorial board; but if it became a state political issue, we’d have to. And no, I don’t count the surrogate battles we have the State House now over waiting periods and ultrasounds and such. Those are symbolic more than substantive.)
    Now, back to the subject at hand. The governor. The stimulus. Pragmatism vs. ideology. Sanford vs. Crist. That’s where we started. And that’s the huge issue before us in this state: Do we embrace a boost from Washington, or don’t we?

  10. Capital A

    “Right to life”? Stop with such silly terms.
    What do you think those of us who support the other, logical side of the issue are –necromancers who only support the right to death and decay? You zealots and your disregard for correct language… Your professional duties alone should make you ashamed for expressing yourself in such a manner.
    American ideals support the right to choose. Roe was a victory for all who support this Republic. Your “faith” is what blinds you to that truth.
    Tell me where all the dead babies fled to when the pope closed down purgatory, and then I may begin to see how you can tell a woman what to do with her body in a modern-day democracy. The basis of your beliefs are rooted in nonsense which is why you can never see their natural folly.

  11. bud

    I’m the guy who wants to take the issue out of that absolutist sphere and put it where compromises can be made.
    No, no, no! A thousand times no! You take the ultimate abolutist position on this. That is THE GOVERNMENT GETS TO MAKE THIS DECISION. That’s not compromise, that’s tyranny, pure and simple. It damn sure doesn’t matter whether the decision is made at the state or federal level. To suggest the level of government matters is just plain illogical. It’s still tyranny.
    And that same tyranny is now being foisted on 8 young lives who were only trying to have a bit of fun in the privacy of their home with a celebrity (Michael Phelps). This business of defending the government’s strong-armed tactics to foster it’s brand of ethics on the rest of us is not at all a form of compromise and should not be tolerated in a free society. Legalize pot and keep Roe in tact. That’s the only eithical position to take on these issues. Anything else is tyranny by the majority.

  12. Greg Flowers

    I do not understand your contention that no one who believes that life begins at conception cannot be one who “supports this republic.”

  13. KP

    I imagine Sanford thinks that having been roundly beaten in the House, Senate, and presidential elections, the Republican party will be looking for a leader who can return it to its ideologically pure roots. And who’s more ideologically pure than him?
    I don’t think he can possibly survive, not just because his record is abysmal but because Republicans aren’t really a party of ideological purists. That’s just a wing. Many, many Republicans with good sense (including myself) wouldn’t think of voting for such a navel-gazer. Enough with the ideological angst, it’s time to move on.

  14. Doug Ross

    Here’s a great idea that would blow the doors off any government stimulus pork package:
    From NRO Online:
    ““All you need to do is grant visas to two million Indians, Chinese and Koreans,” said Shekhar Gupta, editor of The Indian Express newspaper. “We will buy up all the subprime homes. We will work 18 hours a day to pay for them. We will immediately improve your savings rate — no Indian bank today has more than 2 percent nonperforming loans because not paying your mortgage is considered shameful here. And we will start new companies to create our own jobs and jobs for more Americans.””
    A healthy dose of work ethic would do more to solve this country’s economic woes than any handout would.

  15. Lee Muller

    The state owning a power generation business is socialist. It has no place in America. Sell it off, and let the new owners make business decisions about whether to build a new facility.

  16. Doug Ross

    I am open to anyone who enters the country legally and works hard to make something of themselves. That wasn’t my quote I posted, it was from an Indian guy.
    Anyone who is here illegally must return to his home country and enter legally. Do we want to encourage criminal behavior?

  17. Rich

    Agreed, Doug. Send all the people who arrived here illegally back to where they came from. Oops! That would mean sending all European Americans back to Europe!!
    Ask the “Native Americans” how happy they are with our settlement here!!

  18. Workin' Tommy C

    Very brave of you to suggest that the issue of abortion should go back to the states since, legally, according to the plain written English of the U.S. Constitution, that’s where the issue lies NOW, despite what some traitorous judges decided a few decades ago. Couldn’t you just support the U.S. Constitution AS WRITTEN instead of as purposefully misinterpreted or callously ignored?
    Regarding the Governor: is it pragmatic to compromise with fascism as you would? At least he has the guts to take a stand and speak out on the subject.
    Your pragmatism is the attitude that put Hitler and countless other tyrants in power. You’re gambling with the power of the people and, like most gamblers, once you start, you don’t know when to quit. In such cases, the house (tyrannical government) wins in the end.
    Only under the law can we progress as our Founding Fathers intended us to. If there’s something in the Constitution that offends thee, work to AMEND IT through the LEGAL process.

  19. bud

    Workin’ Tommy is obviously not working on his logical thinking. Brad is frequently wrong on many, many, many issues but to suggest his “attitude” is akin to anything leading up to Hitler is contemptable. Fact is my interpretation of the Constitution is perfectly compatable with Roe v Wade. So this constant drumbeat that ” … according to the plain written English of the U.S. Constitution, that’s where the issue lies NOW, despite what some traitorous judges decided a few decades ago.” is just a claim and nothing more.

  20. Dick Polman

    Many thanks for citing my blog post on the governors. I surely could have contrasted Sanford’s stance with Crist’s. I just ran out of time! Cheers, Dick Polman

  21. Paladin

    Governor Sanford will go down in history as the greatest governor in the greatest state in the history of the greatest country in the world. While other governors are on their knees begging like discarded orphans for crumbs from the kings table, Sanford stands up like a man and says we will grow, prepare and eat our own food.

  22. Workin' Tommy C

    What is your opinion of the Germans who complacently sat by while their freedoms were slowly (and sometimes, not so slowly) taken away from them?
    Brad has a very big platform on which to advocate a simple return to the written law instead of following the whims of corrupt and fickle politicians. Instead of doing this, he’s just another cog in the corrupt media/political machine. He does nothing to call attention to obvious evil and thereby helps to enable it.
    As for the Constitution, if you allow yourself to be fooled into believing that the Supreme Law of the Land means ANYTHING a bunch of activist judges says it means despite what it obviously states and all the documentation from the era of its creation and precedent for decades afterwards, then where are the limits? What good is the law if there is no respect for it?
    For example, we’ve gone to war without declarations of war by Congress since Korea. Is is their RESPONSIBILITY to declare war if they so choose. They are not enabled by the Constitution to delegate that authority. Do you think that is a good thing?
    The cowards in Congress have given up their very important power in voting yea or nay on war. A very effective check on mercantile imperialism run amok is gone now thanks to the ignorance of and the ignoring of the Constitution.

  23. bud

    I am more concerned with the flawed thinking in the Supreme Court’s decision to outlaw the use of medicinal marijuana. That was purely an activist decision based on a bogus relationship with the interstate commerce clause.
    The Roe v Wade decision was properly decided based on the Constitution.

  24. Weldon VII

    Here’s the due process clause of the 14th Amendment, bud. Please point out where this clause, supposedly the lynchpin of the argument from Justice Harry Blackmun and the majority, grants the right to privacy necessary to make Roe vs. Wade a valid decision.
    Try as I might, I just can’t find it. I can see how the language might make taking the life of a fetus illegal, but, outlandish as it might seem, apparently the court ruled that a fetus is not a person.
    What is a fetus? A duck?
    Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

  25. Capital A

    What’s even more outlandish is looking into the Holy Bible and finding an explicit statement of Christ’s or even God’s stance on abortion.
    Work on that one, and return to us when your snipehunt ends. If you take the logical path in that search, you’ll either be back very soon or in a very long time.
    Maybe the Lord will grant mercy and whisper the directions into your ear, but I’d lay odds on mission aborted before that happens.

  26. Greg Flowers

    I know that you and the others on the editorial page really, really, really don’t like this governor. That of course is your right. However, I am struck by two facts: 1) He has been forthright and consistent in his positions from the very beginning; and 2)Your support of him in the 2000 campaign was almost embarresing in its enthusias

  27. Greg Flowers

    I know that you and the others on the editorial page really, really, really don’t like this governor. That of course is your right. However, I am struck by two facts: 1) He has been forthright and consistent in his positions from the very beginning; and 2)Your support of him in the 2000 campaign was almost embaresing in its enthusiasm. What has happened?

  28. Greg Flowers

    I know that you and the others on the editorial page really, really, really don’t like this governor. That of course is your right. However, I am struck by two facts: 1) He has been forthright and consistent in his positions from the very beginning; and 2)Your support of him in the 2000 campaign was almost embaresing in its enthusiasm. What has happened?

  29. Lee Muller

    bud would happily climb into any cattle car sent by Cult Obama. If the state needs more fertilizer, ole bud is ready to jump into the wood chipper.
    And Brad, Mark Sanford is not YOUR governor. That would be Lottery Jim Hodges, or Landfill Riley.

  30. Herb Brasher

    You’ve really got more sense, I think, than to make such ridiculous statements about Christian theology than these that assume we approach the Scriptures with a modern-day dictionary and then suppose that, if we can’t find the word in the King James, we then give up. Are you really that naive? I’m sure I don’t have to really tell you that Christian theology is based on the person of Christ, whose teachings sharpened, not dulled, the intent of Mosaic law, while rejecting the Pharisaical casuistry and tradition of attempts to explain the same law, or more often than not, circumvent it. Christians don’t have to look for the word “abortion” in the Bible–what we do is to pay attention to is the value that life has once a holy God enters the equation.
    Do you honestly think that we are going to be convinced by yours and Rich’s insipid definitions of “doing what is loving” –(which means what?–doing what pleases me, myself, and I) or “doing what is practical for other people?” — which is also no definition at all.
    Quite frankly, I think the NT is much more to the point when it bases human ethics upon a God who self-reveals himself as a servant, “taking upon himself the likeness of humanity” (Philippians 2). No power-grabber there, but rather a helper available to us for day-to-day life. I’ve lived my life now for more tan 40 years with His help, a help that has kept me from living out my natural inclinations at times. At least one or two people are alive because of it.
    But I’m not asking you to adopt my ethics. You’re not a member of my church, anyway. What I am asking you to do is to consider whether the 60% of the people in this country who happen to be religious should give up our identity when we enter the public square, or go to the ballot box.
    In reality, you are tossing up smokescreens by bringing up theology at all. Abortion doesn’t have to be about theology; it is about choice. At some point, about a potential human being’s choices. When does a baby get a right to live? As far as I can see, you are lazy. You don’t want to have to deal with the questions (that Brad has already mentioned) that this would bring up. Rather just let a totalitarian federal government decide that infants don’t get any choices until they are born. Which fails to answer the question as to why they should get any, then, either.
    Excuse my rant, Cap. You are really a pretty decent guy, except some of the time.

  31. Rich

    I absolutely expect you to give up your identity as a Christian when you go to vote. While you have the right to base your vote on any reason, rational or irrational, the civic-minded thing to do in a representative democracy is vote the issues, not a person’s theology. That would only be acceptable insofar as your theology or religiously motivated ethics coincides with the body of secular ethical principles underlying our common and statutory law.
    When you start telling me about Christ and his ethics based on some higher power, you’re not giving me any empirically verifiable information, just your own wishful thinking about life. You have no more right to expect me to pay any serious political attention to such nonsense than I would to someone who tells me that his positions are based on the divine will of Allah, the wishes of Shiva, or the thought of the Buddha.
    It’s all mythology. Public policy needs to be based on concrete evidence. Human values can indeed be empirically based in the sense that a correlation can be drawn between the level of prosperity, freedom, safety, and overall happiness in a society and the law that is passed and enforced to secure it.
    Of course, the question arises, how do we determine what the “good” is for society? What empirical proof do we have for any ethical judgment as right for humanity. We don’t have any. At this most fundamental level, we simply have to decide what we want, not try to determine what’s written in the stars, because there is no divine reference point.
    What’s more, why is a morality dictated from on high superior to one hammered out by a democratic body politic? In the public square, people come forward and debate what society will consider just and unjust. That which is unjust will be seen to be violative of what society has come to consider good through much thought, discussion, debate, argument, and pain.
    How is that inferior to being told by a celestial dictator what to believe? Herb, you need to leave your celestial North Korea on the ash-heap of history, where it belongs.
    We’re all we have, and we have got to use government democratically to determine the conditions under which our species will live and prosper.

  32. Herb Brasher

    We’re all we have, and we have got to use government democratically to determine the conditions under which our species will live and prosper.

    Ah! Thank you Rich, for including me. That includes about 60% of the population with some degree of belief in God, and an ethic that is influenced by the same. So now we democratically work out what is best for us all, which is basically what we did in this country just over 200 years ago.
    Where we radically differ is that you think people can strip themselves of their identity when they go to the ballot box, or speak in the public square. They cannot, and you have somehow lost reality if you think they can.
    Certainly I will agree that America has never been Christian in any sense. The American Revolution itself violated Christian principles, and is not defensible under any interpretation of a “just war.” Those Christians who tried to defend it that way had to leave their Christianity behind, or radically re-interpret it, in order to do so.
    I will also agree that there are Christians who mistakenly think that this country was Christian in its origins, and who are somehow trying to get back to some sort of idolatrous mixture of Christian theology and practice, Enlightenment confidence in human nature and reason, and just plain old selfishness as exemplified in some brands of libertarianism. That system was not Christian then, but some have thought that it was, and continue to identify it as such. It was probably best articulated by Ronald Reagan, and too easily swallowed by many others.
    But that is where your liberty to gag all religious people stops. I am sorry to tell you that the first amendment has already pre-empted you–all of us, whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or whatever we are, have the right to influence public policy under our first amendment rights. And we will continue to do so. Hopefully we will continue to learn to do so in the public square. Hopefully Christianity will have a strong voice there, because Muslim and Hindu ethics have some very strong negative characteristics, should these tend to become dominant (they also have some positive ones–but let’s not make this too complicated!).
    Rich, it is you who must dump your North Korean model on the ash-heap of history. It is you who is trying to instigate a mindless dictatorship of atheistic leadership in which religion has no influence on public policy. It is you who is convinced that macroevolution is the explanation of all that is, and have left the boundaries of science. Science cannot answer the question as to “why” we are here, unless it does it by faith in nonsense. The moment you left the limits of science (the testing of theories as to how things work, or how they came to be) and decided that you know the why of existence, you entered the realm of faith, in which you do not hesitate to make groundless pontifical statements about absolute reality, while denying that the absolute even exists.
    It is not going to happen, Rich. Thankfully, your attempt to rid the public square of religion is not going to happen.
    What concerns me more is your blindness to the fact that your own philosophy is a religion itself, and a religion which you would like, in violation of the first amendment, to jam down everybody else’s throat.

  33. Lee Muller

    Socialism rejects individuality, and rejects the notion of government being of individuals working together for the common good.
    Socialists belief that the State can be defined on its own, and then force the individuality out of its subjects through indoctrination, reward for servile behavior, and punishment for independent thinking.
    Modern representative democratic governments were only possible after Medieval Christianity instilled the notions of individual equality for all people in the eyes of God. The morality which grew from that recognizes a basic common set of rights for all men to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.


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