Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN


July 20, 2013

The three amigos: Repackaged, but not redeemed


Mr. Sanford has promised something even better, spiritual reprieve. In his victory speech in May he said, “I want to acknowledge a God not just of second chances, but third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth chances.” If he got so many do-overs, think what’s possible for you!

The problem with their thesis is that their decision to run and the outcome of their races has nothing to do with the people and everything to do with each of them. It is as if they conflate relative anonymity with redemption, where once they have suffered through a few years out of politics and the public eye they can emerge from their respective cocoons new men and society with them in a bizarre cosmic two-fer.

But nothing they have said or done speaks to a change of heart, making them more like the Twinkies returning to store shelves in new packaging than men chastened and transformed by their experience.

Sanford, for his part, made it seem in his acceptance speech quoted above that people should expect more transgressions down the road. Spitzer showed nothing but his trademark arrogance in revealing that he is going to give himself more power if elected to an office that never had it. And Weiner, by basking in his middle class street cred while living like a Wall Street banker, shows how little he cares for revealing his authentic self, except maybe in future photos.

These men are not alone. Just about anyone guilty of what used to be considered major transgressions — except those deemed racist — need only step out of the public eye for a time before reappearing. It is as if Martha Stewart, for example, never went to prison. But the quickness with which people can move on shows how cheap penitence can now be come by. Otherwise, why even try a comeback, right?

Whether Spitzer and Weiner win their elections like Sanford does not mean a new beginning for the rest of us, however. It’s just a return to a familiar lout over one people don’t know.

Marta H. Mossburg is an independent columnist. Contact her at marta@martamossburg.com.

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