The Mark Sanford saga ploughs on like a giant commercial fishing trawler, its massive nets sweeping up every kind of cultural garbage and dumping it on the docks so we can gape at the mess. At this rate, he could eclipse Bill ( “That Depends on What the Meaning of ‘Is’ Is”) Clinton in the Alpha-Male Idiot Hall of Fame.
In this tawdry melodrama, as with Clinton and his insufferable pursuer, Ken Starr, there are no good guys. Yesterday, I heard a lip-smacking snark artist–no, not Maureen Dowd– refer to Sanford as “the gift that keeps on giving.” If you believe that the spectacle of watching a human being commit emotional hari-kari in public is a “gift,” I suppose he is.
A few days ago I felt sorry for Sanford, believing that even a hypocritical adulterer who shamed his family in front of the world did not deserve to have his private love letters exposed to the voyeuristic masses. The fact that there has been so little protest against that violation of privacy speaks volumes about our degraded state. Bring on the bread and circuses. The great beast must be fed.
Now, however, Sanford seems determined to sacrifice his last shreds of dignity and magnify his disgrace with an endless series of self-exposes. He has become the Britney Spears of American politics, his self-destruction enabled by hordes of media leeches who dish the garbage to the mob. If there was any remaining line of demarcation between the sleazy tabloid media and the supposedly serious media, this all but erases it, along with the antiquated ideas of honor and shame.