David Broder in the Washington (Republican Propaganda) Post:
The saga of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and his Argentine romance has been such ripe fodder for the gossip mills that the essential governmental question has almost been forgotten.
Whether Sanford can resolve the mess he has made of his personal life is of little concern to anyone but the people involved.
But when he disappeared for five days, telling no one in his administration or even his security detail where he had gone, he did something totally irresponsible. Had any kind of emergency occurred, South Carolina would have been leaderless.
At the moment Sanford abandoned his duties in secret pursuit of private pleasure, he in effect tendered his resignation.
The Legislature should insist he follow through on it.
Now while I agree with the sentiment that Sanford abandoned his job to follow his
little brain, er...heart to Argentina, I'm struck by the difference in Broder's tone from his coverage of Bill Clinton's infidelities:
One of the most revealing statements Broder -- or, perhaps, any political journalist -- has ever made came in 1998. In November 1998, after nearly a year of public opinion polls showing, basically, that people liked Bill Clinton and wanted the Lewinsky investigation to just go away, and of the Washington journalist/pundit crowd vehemently disagreeing, the Post published an article by Sally Quinn attempting to explain the disconnect (which lives on to this day).
Quinn famously quoted Broder explaining why the "Washington Establishment" -- which under anybody's definition includes both Broder and Quinn -- was so angry at Clinton: "He came in here and he trashed the place ... and it's not his place."
Broder's implication -- that Washington was his place, not the president's -- is arrogant enough. But Broder's other comment speaks volumes: "The judgment is harsher in Washington. We don't like being lied to."