Friday, June 26, 2009

Who Can You Trust?

Last autumn I posted a commentary by the Governor of South Carolina that began,
I am worried for our country...
A bit further on, he writes,
For 200 years, the "business model" in our country has rested on a simple fact: that while one may reap rewards from taking risks, one should also be prepared to face the consequences of those risks.
This week Gov. Mark Sanford is facing the consequences of taking risks of a more personal nature, having returned to his post after disappearing for the greater part of a week for an affair with an Argentine woman.

Granted, this sort of unfaithfulness is beginning to seem endemic to politicians in both major parties. But given the weakened state of the national Republican Party due largely to the orgy of public spending under President George W. Bush and a Republican Congress -- an utter abandonment of the party's principles -- it can only get worse as more and more prominent, thoughtful leaders (a rare commodity among Republican leaders) considered possible Presidential timber (think Gov. Sanford or former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose comments I've also posted here) seem unable to remember their marriage vows in the presence of another pretty woman.

Professor Gregory K. Laughlin, Director of the Law Library at Cumberland School of Law at Samford University writes in Touchstone magazine's Mere Comments of one side of the dilemma conservative Americans are facing in:
Mark Sanford: Forgive, But Trust?

Okay, I formally withdraw all the good things I said about Mark Sanford when I was favoring him as McCain's VP nominee. At least this should reduce the field for the 2012 GOP primary contest.

I'm more than ready to forgive Governor Sanford -- as if he needs my forgiveness -- I'm just no longer willing to trust him with the powers of the Chief Executive of the United States. As Truman observed when he refused, upon the request of others, to appoint a known adulterer to a high government post: if a man's wife cannot trust him, why should I? Further, his sudden disappearance demonstrates a lack of judgment which should disqualify him for the presidency or any other high office. I leave it to the good folks of the great state of South Carolina to decide whether they want him to remain their chief executive.

All men are sinners, but the sins of some men bring to light their lack of judgment and/or character which disqualifies them for high office. Bill Clinton's lying under oath disqualified him and Mark Sanford's sudden disappearance for a few days of frolicking in Argentina disqualifies him.

Just yesterday, one of my librarians came to me to report that he had just rejected a young lawyer's request to use our library. (Our library is not open to the public and those who are not employed by or are students at Samford must receive permission to use our services and collection.) Normally, we give a pass to all lawyers and law students, no matter where they went to or are going to law school. However, this young man told the librarian that he had graduated from our law school (which would result in his saving $15 on the cost of his pass). Upon his effort to verify this, the librarian discovered that this was not true. As it turned out, the young man had graduated from another law school. The librarian refused to give him a pass on the premise that a man who would lie to save $15 would not hesitate to steal books (an unfortunately common action of some lawyers). He came to me to ask if I agreed with his decision. I did. A lawyer who would lie to save $15 is a danger to our system and a shame on our profession, a shame we deserve for not more vigorously policing the ethics of our members. If he would lie for such a petty reason, what will he do when confronted with the many difficult ethical dilemmas which confront lawyers every day?

No, I can forgive Mark Sanford, but I won't give him my vote.
I, too, am worried for our country. For in addition to the financial bankruptcy, we're witnessing the moral bankruptcy of our most gifted (?) leaders -- in both politics and enterprise.

A republic cannot survive like that for long.


Anonymous said...

I think you meant to say the Governor of SOUTH Carolina in your opening, right? Is it perhaps a sign of the inability of Republicans to get facts straight that Fox News kept running a chiron that Sanford is the DEMOCRATIC governor of South Carolina? (grin)

New Whig said...

Yes, Dwight, I meant South Carolina. The state that gave us John C. Calhoun and the home of the ELCA's Lutheran seminary and a very nice young woman I met at the 1980 Republican Convention. Someday I hope to get there.

Just remember, The Lutheran magazine twice ran a map of the Pacific Northwest with Oregon on the north side of the Columbia River and Washington to the South and recently put my alma mater of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Thousand Oaks, the home of California Lutheran University, instead of Berkeley. As far as I can tell, the only Republicans associated with that magazine are a few current, and a lot of former, subscribers.

In the meantime, I apologize for my slip of mind, and I've fixed it.

For the Republic, Steven