March 14, 2009

Sanford And Sins?

While the corporate liberals in the mainstream media have been beating up on South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford for his unwillingness to accept federal bribes (i.e. stimulus money), some of our friends in the paleosphere have been critical of the Practical Statesman for other reasons.  To take one example, according to my fellow South Carolinian, and Conservative Heritage Times blogger “Weaver,” Sanford:

– is a huge fan of arch-globalist Thomas Friedman. Dougherty mentions that Sanford ?somberly quotes Adam Smith and Friedrich Hayek? and later that ?[h]e draws lessons from Ayn Rand?s work?. None of these thinkers are conservative.

– supported Graham recently in his US Senate reelection (not Conley or Witherspoon) and McCain?s Presidential campaign in 2000.

– received a D+ from numbersusa (on immigration) when in the US House.

– voted against withdrawing from the WTO and in favour of fast track.

I realise the governor looks great next to Obama, but let?s not get carried away. Dougherty writes, ?Sanford seems incapable of playing a red-meat populist like Sarah Palin?. That?s because he isn?t a populist.

Though I have spoken fondly of him recently, I have never been the biggest Sanford supporter.  I tend to agree with the critics like “Weaver” that point to a globalist sentiment underlying some of Mr. Sanford’s statements.  I also agree that Sanford is not a populist, which is a large part of the reason why he feels so comfortable endorsing GOP establishmentarians like John McCain.

Having said that, Mark Sanford is not a GOP establishmentarian.  As someone who has long believed that the Republican Party has deeper big government roots than the Democrats – and has at best a tepid connection to conservatism in the modern era – the fiscal sanity of someone like Mark Sanford stands out as truly remarkable.  That he may have a lackluster record on immigration and poor record on managed trade doesn’t negate the fact that he is “off the reservation” more often than not. 

More to the point, the governor does not “look great” merely by comparison to Obama.  In fact he looks good-if not great-by comparison to the overwhelming majority of his contemporaries in the Republican Party.  At a time when the Republican leadership was promoting “national greatness,” Sanford was one of the few prominent members of the GOP to promote quaint notions like living within our means and protecting personal liberties from an intrusive “security”-obsessed government.  That a man who voted against bombing Iraq and fiercely opposed real i.d. could be elected the Governor of a state with the political makeup of South Carolina is astounding.  That he actually has a shot of becoming the public face of the party of Lincoln is almost unfathomable, and hardly a negative. 

Having been present at the press conference where Gov. Sanford publicly announced his refusal of stimulus funds, I feel safe in saying that any politician daring enough to talk about the dangers of “printing money” in front of the press corps is someone that at the very least we can work with.  Looking for political purity at this stage in the game is not only a lost cause-it’s a recipe for wasting opportunities. 


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