Burke’s Law IX: As the GOP Turns

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By Elizabeth Burke
Special to the Clyde Fitch Report

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Once upon a time, the Democrats were the party of Party. Who can forget Gary Hart and a certain Bimini bimbo in a bikini? Or the fantastic, always entertaining Kennedy family: Michael, the nanny lover; Teddy, who cherished drinking and driving in Martha’s Vineyard; William Kennedy Smith, who favored long walks and (allegedly) rapes on the beach; and, of course, Jack and Bobby, who loved Marilyn and, according to a new book, Jackie, too. And there will always be Bill Clinton and his love of the color blue.

More recently, we’ve had a long list for formers: former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey’s confession of a “love that shall not be named”; former Sen. John Edwards paying a “girlfriend” to videotape his presidential campaign (and carry his child, they say) while wife Elizabeth battles cancer; former New York governor Eliot Spitzer and his need, er, spitz on expensive callgirls in D.C. hotels; former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who sent more than 6,000 text messages to his chief of “staff.” (All right, quotation marks are immature, but so is texting 6,000 times.) No wonder Democrats were painted with a broad brush: the anything goes group; those sex-for-sport liberals. As the family-values party, of I-love-the-U.S.-more-than-you-do party, the Republicans seemed well poised atop a high moral high ground, or at least distinguishable from those loose-living, wife-swapping, booze-fueled Democrats.

Good morning. It’s a new day. Now the Republicans do filthy-dirty better than the Democrats. To wit:

  • Vito Fossella (R-NY) — oh, Lordy. This guy drove drunk and then, when caught, called his mistress with whom he fathered a child, whom he at first denied was his, to bail him out.
  • Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) who instructed young male interns on how to take their pants off via email.
  • Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), who lusted after paid “dates.”
  • Sen. Larry Craig, (R-ID) the man who clearly missed his calling to be a Broadway tap dancer, (he can now be seen performing in men’s public bathrooms)
  • Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) slept with a married staffer, paid off her husband and hired their 19-year-old son as a policy expert.
  • Spokane mayor James West, a Republican who long opposed gay rights bills, was recalled from office after a gay Internet sex scandal and affairs were revealed.

Boilerplate, somewhat boring missteps all, typically forgiven by wives standing forlornly beside them, followed by pastors counseling penance, mea culpas tossed around, a touch of rehab, self-imposed exiles and… well, we forget and move on.

Then came news that the ultra-conservative, churchgoing, family values mantle-wearing South Carolina governor, Mark Sanford, a Republican who also screamed for Clinton’s head during the Lewinsky disaster of 1998, had been tangoing the night away with his sexy Argentinian novia! Ole! Of course, the only reason Sanford admitted to an affair is because he-wait for it, you’ll never guess-got caught. But this was a whopper: after not being heard from for six days, the press got nosy and the governor’s staff said Sanford was “hiking on the Appalachian Trail” (at one point thbe rumor was that he was hiking nude).

Now, as I’ve said before in this column, I love a good soap opera as much as the next girl. I love characters that do ridiculous things and get away with them, but good God, this Sanford story is better than anything the networks could write. It’s a…telenovela! It’s Mi Tr√°gica Historia de Amor Prohibido. Close your eyes, imagine a balmy, starry night at an outdoor dance in Punta Del Este, Uruguay-exotic, steamy jungle love erupts from their eyes as they meet across the dance floor full of ripping bodices and…wait. Why is the South Carolina governor in Uruguay? Oh, never mind: we’re at the birth of the first meeting of soul mates! The kind of love found on the cover of every Harlequin romance. Oh, but what can they do? Maria is forever committed to her TV reporter job in Buenos Aires, and Mark is, um, married.

For the next seven or so heartbreaking years, these two lovebirds fluttered though each other’s minds while their emails were filled with salacious ideas and not-so-subtle meanings. To keep himself sharp in the ways of forbidden love, apparently Sanford practices his amor skills with many, many other ladies beside Maria and besides his wife.

To be precise, Sanford’s statement was:

“What I would say is that I’ve never had sex with another woman. Have I done stupid? I have. You know you meet someone. You dance with them. You go to a place where you probably shouldn’t have gone… If you’re a married guy at the end of the day you shouldn’t be dancing with somebody else. So anyway without wandering into that field we’ll just say that I let my guard down in all senses of the word without ever crossing the line that I crossed with this situation.”

I feel your pain, governor. We all know that the answer to the question “What is sex?” depends on what the meaning of the words “What is sex?” is.

Had Sanford saved all this pent up pasión for his beloved Maria, his soul mate, then-well, let me just quote him again:

“I will be able to die knowing that I had met my soul mate. But it was one of those things, I knew the cost.”

He knew the cost, yes, but he simply didn’t care. Sanford singlehandedly made “crossing the ultimate line” the new euphemism for adultery.

And now weepy Sanford is back home, fighting for his political life and winning-unless you believe that a censure by the state legislature constitutes punishment. The governor has also vowed to find a way to fall back in love with his wife-you know, the one who is not his soul mate-lucky girl. And he has prostrated himself on the Bible as so-called Christians do when they get caught, comparing himself to King David and the way in which he fell mightily and then picked up the pieces and built from there. I mean, it takes a certain ego to put your smarmy and sweaty gropings and quickie sex at the same level as the ultimate love affair between the King of the Jews and Bathsheba. (Could Sanford be secretly Jewish?)

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And now, just as we’re on the edge of our seats waiting to learn what other teary, angst-ridden confessions Sanford still has to get off his chest, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin quits the governorship! No soap opera is complete witout a twist! How could I not bring this up as further proof that the GOP has well and truly lost its collective, family-values mind?

As the GOP leadership drops like pounds off a Jenny Craig poster girl, I actually thought for a minute that resigning from office just might be a boon for Palin. All she had to do was put her head down, study foreign and domestic policy, brush up on history, travel more, not have an affair and continue to govern Alaska and she could have easily strolled right up to the podium at the 2012 Republican National Convention.

But she quit for no discernable reason. America’s favorite lipsticked pitbull offered a rambling, incoherent, confusing, whiny yet highly entertaining speech at her house on Lake Lucille, her sexy monosyllabic husband and prop daughter beside her. She bitched about the ethics complaints against her (how un-American to hold one’s elected officials accountable); she complained about the fiscal strain on her family and the state to defend the numerous allegations; she incessant carped about the “liberal” media-who she then invited to join her on her family’s fishing excursion; and since she wasn’t running for a second term or even finishing her first, she threw in her distain for lame duck governors forced to go on all those overseas junkets.

Palin said, “People who know me know that besides faith and family, nothing’s more important to me than our beloved Alaska.” Except, I guess, self-interest.

Here’s a link to what we could have inaugurated: http://www.gov.state.ak.us/exec-column.php

I think she stopped having fun. The day to day job of legislating can actually be boring. Palin has shown how much she loves the bright lights, the attention, the great clothes, the adoring fans. She simply realized she could also love the millions of dollars she can make as a private citizen.

I see a talk show on Fox: Scarborough and Sarah. Or Cooking with Greta and Sarah. Or Whack a Liberal with Sarah. The endless possibilities!

So many love stories, so many painful decisions, so many families caught in the spotlight, so many governorship and senatorial careers; so many book deals and so many millions to rake in; so many TV shows to produce; so many states to screw over; so many soul mates to be found. I can’t wait for the next episode of As the GOP Turns.