June 25, 2009

The Fox talkers were out trying to spin past the gruesome wreckage of Mark Sanford's political career yesterday, partly by claiming that Republicans always give the boot to such cases of gross immorality, while Democrats are so lascivious that they naturally tolerate such behavior within their own ranks.

First there was Faux Liberal Mort Kondracke on Brett Baier's afternoon show:

Kondracke: But look. You know, multiple affairs did not stop Bill Clinton from being elected president. But that's because the Democratic Party is a lot more tolerant of licentiousness than the Republican Party is. And that's the rub for poor old Mark Sanford here.

Then Ann Coulter attempted more or less the same claim later that day on Sean Hannity's show:

Coulter: But he's a Republican, so he will be gone. Unlike John Edwards, with all of his staff knowing that he --

Hannity: He may not be governor by the end of a couple of weeks.

Coulter: That's right. And even if he is, Republicans vote these guys out, generally.

Oddly enough, Coulter kept bringing up John Edwards, whose political career is pretty much toast -- so it's not a point that actually supported her claim. Moreover, she and Kondracke are glossing over the long history of other Democrats' careers being derailed by sexual hijinks: Gary Hart, Eliot Spitzer, Brock Adams, Jim McGreevy are just a few of the names that come to mind.

Meanwhile, it's not hard to come up with Republicans whose infidelities have been glossed over and "forgiven" (by the pundit class at least). Some of them are major figures in the party even today. To wit:

John McCain, who cheated on his injured first wife and eventually married his mistress. That didn't stop him from being the GOP's 2008 presidential nominee.

Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, who despite having been caught up in a hooker scandal (in which it was revealed he had a fondness for diapers), retains his senior Republican positions in the Senate and is a lock to be the GOP's nominee for his seat in 2010.

Rudy Giuliani, who cheated on his first two wives, and even used public money and policemen to carry on his affairs (including having cops walk his mistress' dog). Yet Giuliani regularly appears on Fox and other networks as a national Republican mouthpiece.

Newt Gingrich, who, as Steve Benen notes, "obtained his first divorce in 1981, after forcing his wife, who had helped put him through graduate school, to haggle over the terms while in the hospital, as she recovered from uterine cancer surgery. In 1999, he was disgraced again, having been caught in an affair with a 33-year-old congressional aide while spearheading the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton." Yet some quarters have anointed him the front-runner for the GOP nomination in 2012, and he certainly remains one of the most prominent Republicans in the snake-oil biz.

Sure, Republicans fire their immorality cases. Except for the ones they don't. Which is most of them.

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