When I've been asked whom I thought could be the individual to lead the Republican Party out of the wilderness, my answer has always been Mark Sanford. His vision for his party and his country -- traditional values and limited government -- has always been clear, consistent, and, in my view, correct. And he has always pursued that vision, as a congressman and as a governor, with a boldness and courage rare among politicians.
The Cato Institute publishes a bi-annual report card of the nation's governors, ranking them according to fiscal responsibility. In the most recent report, three governors out of fifty received an "A." Sanford was one of the three.
So, like many others, I watched with disappointment his confession about his clandestine adulterous affair.
No surprises that most predict the end of Sanford's political career. And, of course, we've got the usual, and gleeful, accusations of hypocrisy that another conservative Republican has been caught with his pants down.
But if there is a crisis in America today -- and I think there is -- is it that leaders fall short of standards, or is it that our answers to human frailty increasingly tend to deny that any standards exist?
The most strident accusations of hypocrisy come not from those saddened that Sanford fell short of the traditional values to which he subscribes. They're from those who want to de-legitimize and marginalize those traditional values. John F. Kennedy gave a famous speech during his 1960 presidential campaign to address the question of his Catholicism. Rather than argue that Catholic values are consistent with American values, he argued that religion and public policy have nothing to do with each other.
Kennedy turned out to be one of the great sleazes to occupy the White House (not unlike his brother Senator Ted who, in his last hurrah, is now trying to socialize American health care).
During the almost half century since Kennedy gave that speech, the moral, social, and legal fabric of our country has steadily unraveled.
In 1960, around 5 percent of our babies were born to unwed mothers. Today it is 40 percent.
The pillars upon which our free country stands -- sanctity of life, liberty, and property -- have been eroded to the point where they are barely recognizable.