Washington Times: Social Conservatives Fall from Grace
You know things are bad for God's Own Party when the arch-conservative and faithfully Republican Washington Times runs an article proclaiming "social conservatives fall from moral high ground."
Declaring "Republicans retreat from values claims," the Times catalogued the damage done to the party of supposed "values voters" by an endless string of scandals extended by John Ensign and Mark Sanford in the past week. For Democratic schadenfreude alone, the Times introduction was worth the price of admission:
Social conservatives, the once-powerful force that focused the Republican agenda on moral virtue and family values, have suffered a diminished brand on the national political landscape as a steady stream of their icons have fallen prey to the vices they once preached against.
Extramarital affairs, gambling, alcohol abuse, prostitution and sexual pursuit of minors have taken a toll on the GOP.
For its part, the Republican Party and its conservative allies do not yet seem able to part with strategy that produced "Justice Sunday", the "Values Voters Summit" and which supposedly made "moral values" top of voters' minds in the 2004 election. While South Carolina Rep. Bob Inglis urged his Republican brethren to "lose the stinking rot of self-righteousness," Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council told the Times "distancing itself from its family-values platform in order to insulate itself from charges of hypocrisy is a bigger threat to the Republican Party." Meanwhile, in the run-up to the imbroglios that scratched two more names off the list of potential 2012 GOP White House hopefuls, it was serial adulterers Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani who with their six combined marriages took center stage as defenders of "the sanctity of marriage."
Even as he imploded before our eyes yesterday, disgraced South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford perpetuated the conceit of Republican moral superiority. In a rambling soliloquy, Sanford painfully detailed his infidelity and apologized to almost everyone for his violations of "God's laws":
"And in this regard, let me throw one more apology out there, and that is to people of faith across South Carolina, or for that matter, across the nation, because I think that one of the big disappointments when -- believe it or not, I've been a person of faith all my life."
(As for unbelievers in the Palmetto State and across the nation, they apparently can - and will - go to hell.)
As for Ensign and Sanford, their failings are far more profound than mere hypocrisy and adultery (as taboo and even illegal in South Carolina as they may be). Senator Ensign may well have violated Senate rules and campaign finance laws by finding jobs for and boosting compensation to his mistress and her family. Governor Sanford is not just guilty of what even Charles Krauthammer deemed "dereliction of duty," he may have used taxpayer dollars to fund his trysts in Argentina.
As for a Republican Party humiliated by the sin and debauchery of Mark Sanford, John Ensign, Larry Craig, David Vitter, Mark Foley, Newt Gingrich, Bob Livingston, Henry Hyde and so many other of its "people of faith, Fox News has a solution.
Call them Democrats.
UPDATE: The Washington Independent reports "conservatives write off Sanford as a national leader." In that piece, Grover Norquist joked, "It does indicate that men who oppose federal spending at the local level are irresistible to women."