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“Family Values Week Is Over”: A Rough Week In America For Women

Mark Sanford’s heralded engagement to Maria Belen Chapur is apparently over. The rep. from South Carolina released the news to America through a Facebook post. That’s how Chapur found out, too.

Gallantry has been in especially short supply this month. Prominent American men have been roughing up their women in spectacularly public ways — ranging from coldly calculated mind games to a knockout punch.

September opened with former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s unsuccessful attempt to swat away felony charges by making his wife take the entire rap for rampant corruption. The governor’s lawyers smeared Maureen as “manipulative,” “unpredictable,” “deceptive” and, most famously, a “nut bag.”

For a taste of the media response, Google “Maureen McDonnell under the bus.”

McDonnell had long touted his traditional values, pasting pictures of his photogenic wife and children on every available surface. His master’s thesis was on family breakdown and contained the line, “As the family goes, so goes the nation.”

Guess family values week is over.

To think, many Republicans had put McDonnell on their list of potential presidential candidates.

As for Sanford, an antiseptic breakup note marked the latest in a series of callous behaviors toward women and just plain weirdness. Recall that as South Carolina governor, Sanford sneaked off to Argentina to visit Chapur, a TV journalist there, for nearly a week. He told his staff that he was “hiking the Appalachian Trail” and could not be reached. Recall that his disgusted wife threw him out of the house and initiated divorce.

To pretty up the adulterous activity for his socially conservative voters, Sanford framed the affair as an unstoppable joining of soulmates. He promised to put aright the perceived wrong by marrying Chapur. And he layered on top of that an inspirational journey of redemption, starring himself.

“I’ve experienced how none of us goes through life without mistakes,” he said in a campaign ad when running for Congress. “But in their wake, we can learn a lot about grace, a God of second chances, and be the better for it.”

Two years went by, and Chapur eventually demanded an actual wedding date, which he wouldn’t make.

“I think that I was not useful to him anymore,” she told an interviewer. “He made the engagement thing four months before the elections.”

The ex-wife is now trying to restrict Sanford’s visits with their 15-year-old son. She also wants the court to order the congressman to have psychological counseling and take anger management classes.

True to form, Sanford is now blaming his ex-wife’s custody fight for his inability to wed Chapur. Don’t blame the ex-wife, Chapur responded.

To think, many Republicans had put Sanford on their list of potential presidential candidates.

To be clear, narcissistic abuse of women is hardly a Republican monopoly. Consider the Democrats’ 2004 vice-presidential nominee, John Edwards — who declared devotion to his cancer-ridden wife on the campaign trail while fathering a child with a tawdry filmmaker.

Between the McDonnell and Sanford stories emerged the video of football star Ray Rice punching his girlfriend, now wife, cold in an elevator and then dragging her limp body out. The now-former Baltimore Ravens running back saw no need to blame the woman for provoking the attack. She did it for him.

Say this for the Rice assault: It was straightforward brutality. It happened in a moment and without burdening the public with baroque explanations. The victim knew exactly what had happened to her, once she came to.

But what are Rice’s prospects of getting a second chance? The practitioner of psychological cruelty tends to be slicker than the man with the fist. And the businessmen running the NFL are a tougher sell than the electorate.

Meanwhile, September isn’t over.


By: Froma Harrop, The National Memo, September 18, 2014

September 19, 2014 Posted by | Conservatives, Family Values, Women | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Boldly Ahead Of His Time”: South Carolina Republicans Snub Desegregation Judge

Of all the names of American heroes you probably don’t know, Julius Waties Waring has to rank near the top of the list. Waring was a judge in South Carolina in the mid-20th century. He’s famous to those who know for many courageous stands, but he’s probably best known for writing in one opinion that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” That was in 1951, three years before Brown v. Board of Education. In Charleston, South Carolina. Now that’s a set of stones, no?

Charleston these days is a gorgeous and ever more cosmopolitan city where, if you pick your spots carefully—the art galleries, certain restaurants—you can run into more Democrats than Republicans, maybe. But Chucktown has been molasses-slow to acknowledge the brave legacy of Waring. Finally this month, he got his due. A statue was dedicated outside the same federal courthouse building where he heard his cases.

Everyone of course came. Oh, wait. Everyone didn’t come. Some Democrats showed up, led by Eric Holder. But no local Republican of any note came.

According to the Charleston Post and Courier, Sen. Lindsey Graham had another event he’d planned “months before.” Rep. Mark Sanford, the Appalachian trail-hopping ex-governor who now represents the city in Congress, spent the day in Washington. (It was a Friday.) And the best excuse of all goes to Tim Scott, the junior senator after Graham, who is African-American. Scott had some meetings, and then “some personal things that needed attending.” He at least did send an aide.

If this seems like a small, so-what kind of thing to you, I submit two thoughts. First, you’re maybe not familiar enough with Waring’s career. He made it to the federal bench in 1942. He made, for a few years, no unusual rulings, although being on the bench did bring him face to face with his city and state’s official segregation in a way that simply being a prosperous attorney had not. He began by ending segregation in his courtroom. Somewhere in there he divorced his first wife, a Charleston girl, and took up with and married a Connecticut woman, who may have influenced his views. He issued an opinion holding that the state had to pay black teachers the same as it paid whites, and another ordering that the University of South Carolina law school admit black students, or that the state open a truly equal law school for African-Americans.

In 1948, Waring ended the state Democratic Party’s “white primary” and ruled that Charleston’s “Negroes” were entitled to “full participation in [Democratic] Party affairs.” The party had to let them enroll and vote, which they did, 35,000 strong, in that year’s primary elections. (Yes, as conservatives will gleefully note as if they’re scoring a point by mentioning 80-year-old and no longer relevant history, the Democratic Party was the racist party at the time.)

Then in 1951 came his famous dissent in Briggs v. Elliott, in which he wrote the sentence I quote above. Waring’s famous sentence came from his dissent—that is to say, by 2-1, the three-judge federal panel upheld South Carolina’s segregation. But the Supreme Court agreed to hear Briggs, which it then combined into Brown. When the high court ruled in Brown, the Charleston circuit court, of course, reversed itself. So Waring was boldly ahead of his time, and he provided the jurisprudential basis for Brown by being the first-ever federal judge to say, plainly and straightforwardly, that segregated schools were wrong and that “separate but unequal” was a practical impossibility and a pernicious lie.

So he was a huge figure. Charleston had rejected him in part because he rejected it. He retired shortly after his Briggs ruling and moved with his wife to New York City, of all lamentable places, obviously wanting to have nothing to do with Charleston, the South, or any of it. But now the city has finally decided to honor its own, so let’s not pretend no one down there understands the importance of what he did.

The second thought I submit is that while politicians do indeed have scheduling commitments that arise months in advance, they also cancel them regularly to go do something else. I’ve been on the business end of some of those cancellations myself. So Graham, Scott, and Sanford could have found a way to make it to Charleston if it really mattered to them.

I am not saying that the fact that they didn’t go makes them racists. That would be unfair in Graham’s and Sanford’s case, and kind of preposterous in Scott’s case. I am saying, however, that it seems as if they didn’t go because, well, no one they knew and cared about wanted them to go. For Graham, certainly, locked in a primary fight against Tea Partiers, but really for any South Carolina Republican no good could possibly come of attending a celebration of one of the state’s most important liberals.

The presence of Holder, Mr. Fast and Furious himself, only made things worse. Why, imagine. What with everyone having cameras on them these days, someone might have snapped a picture of one of the Republicans shaking Holder’s hand! So it’s not a reflection on the men—although it is that—so much as it is on the modern GOP, Palmetto State Branch. And it’s shameful.

Meanwhile, across our United States, schools are resegregating at a record clip, thanks to the Republican appointees who constitute a Supreme Court majority that believes trying to desegregate schools by edict is nearly as malevolent as the old practice of segregating them. The resegregation is happening faster, surprise surprise, down South than anywhere else. What they seem to need are more tributes to figures like Waring, and Republicans in particular are the people who need to attend them.


By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, April 21, 2014

April 21, 2014 Posted by | Lindsey Graham, Segregation | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Forgiveness, Unless You’re A Democrat”: Anthony Weiner Is No Bill Clinton Or David Vitter

Republicans, the party of forgiveness … unless you’re a Democrat.

Anthony Weiner ain’t no Bill Clinton, although many Republicans consider them one and the same, which is why many on the right are perplexed about Weiner’s popularity rapidly dropping in the polls this week in his bid to become mayor of New York. Democrats have pulled their support from him and, so it would seem, have the Clintons.

Weiner’s problem isn’t that Democrats can’t be forgiving. Weiner’s problem is that he continued his inappropriate behavior after stepping down from Congress. The Weiners like to compare themselves to the Clintons, but the situations are not the same, though many of my Republican friends love the comparison. Let me break it down as to why the situations are quite different:

Weiner isn’t, nor ever will be, president. Weiner was a congressman, and not a popular one. Bill Clinton was a popular president, the economy was good and we were at peace. In other words, Bill Clinton was doing his job, despite his behavior, and a good job at that. Weiner on the other hand, it could be argued was distracted by his…umm…hobby.

Hilary wasn’t pregnant. As a woman, I think it was even more reprehensible to many of us ladies that Anthony Weiner was having cybersex, if you will, while his wife was pregnant with his child.

Weiner’s marriage was new. Hilary and Bill have been together a lifetime. Hilary had already suffered through Bill’s indiscretions. She had forgiven him and decided long ago to stand by her man. Although I am sure this was quite painful for her, she was used to forgiving him, and I am sure his behavior was not shocking to her as it was a pattern of behavior.

The “affair” of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky was behind closed doors, albeit those doors were that of the oval office. They were not out for the public to see. On the other hand, Weiner’s penchant for taking photos of his own body parts is, well….a bit perverted. And putting it out there, online for all the world to see, makes it public and a public embarrassment for his wife as well.

I also find it odd that Republicans couldn’t wrap their heads around Democrats forgiving Bill Clinton, and for a time, Anthony Weiner. Isn’t David Vitter still in his political seat after soliciting a prostitute? Not only engaging in adultery, but breaking the law? And how about Mark Sanford? A guy who lied not only to his wife and kids, but to his state when he fled to South America to see his mistress?

So when Anthony Weiner stepped down and, at first, New Yorkers forgave him and gave him a chance, why were Republicans so harsh to judge when their own “sinners” had been forgiven? And what about Eliot Spitzer, who did the same thing as David Vitter, but had the decency to step down, get help, work on his marriage and come back, perhaps soon to be a winner again?

It’s obvious. You can hire prostitutes, play footsies with guys under a bathroom stall, run off from your post, commit adultery and use tax dollars to fly to South America to visit your mistress, and it will be forgiven … unless, you’re a Democrat.


By: Leslie Marshall, U. S. News and World Report, July 31, 2013

August 1, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“This Has Got To Be A Trick”: Is This The Best The GOP Can Come Up With?

I think I’ve figured it out. Republicans must be staging some kind of fiendishly clever plot to lure Democrats into a false sense of security.

That’s the only possible explanation for some of the weirdness we’re seeing and hearing from the GOP. The party must be waiting to come out with its real candidates and policy positions at a moment when unsuspecting Democrats are in the vulnerable position of being doubled over with laughter.

Why else, except for the entertainment value, would the party nominate former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford — he of Appalachian Trail fame, or infamy — in next month’s special election to fill a vacant seat in Congress?

Sanford, you will recall, made news in 2009 when he went missing for a week, which is rarely a good idea for a sitting governor. Upon reappearing, he acknowledged he hadn’t been hiking in the mountains but rather was visiting his mistress in Argentina, which is never a good idea for a sitting governor, especially one who is married and preaches sanctimoniously about family values.

Sanford’s wife, Jenny, refused to play the role of dutiful spouse, basically telling interviewers that her husband was, in fact, a heel; they divorced the following year. After his term ended in 2011, he went slinking into the wilderness. But a toppling of political dominoes — former senator Jim DeMint resigned; then-Rep. Tim Scott was appointed to replace him; Scott’s seat in the House thus had to be filled in a special election — gave Sanford the opening for a comeback.

Last month, Sanford finished first in the GOP primary against a weak field. This week, he won a runoff. Since South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District is solidly Republican, Sanford’s victory on May 7 should be a foregone conclusion. Even the fact that Democrats are running an unusually viable candidate — Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of late-night satirist Stephen Colbert — ought to make little difference. But the GOP establishment is worried.

So far, it appears that Sanford is less interested in victory than personal redemption. He had the nerve to ask Jenny Sanford to manage his campaign; she, of course, declined. As he gave his victory speech after Tuesday’s runoff, his fiancee — Maria Belen Chapur, the former mistress who lives in Buenos Aires — stood behind him. If Sanford ends up making this contest a referendum on his personal life, some loyal Republicans may hold their noses as they vote for him. Others will just stay home.

Republicans are also trying their best to lose a governorship, in Virginia, that could be theirs for the taking.

The Democratic candidate, longtime party fundraiser and operative Terry McAuliffe, has always shown more talent as a kingmaker than as a candidate. But he’s fortunate to have as his opponent Ken Cuccinelli, the commonwealth’s loony-bin attorney general. Describing Cuccinelli’s views as “far right” is like calling Usain Bolt “reasonably fast.”

At the moment, Cuccinelli is challenging an appeals-court decision that struck down Virginia’s sodomy law, which sought to restrict sex acts between any two people, including married couples. The Supreme Court ruled such laws unconstitutional 10 years ago, so the appeals court really had no choice. But Cuccinelli is appealing anyway.

When he was campaigning for attorney general, Cuccinelli refused to endorse his Republican predecessor’s policy of nondiscrimination against gays and lesbians. “My view is that homosexual acts, not homosexuality, but homosexual acts are wrong,” he said at the time. “They’re intrinsically wrong. . . . They don’t comport with natural law.”

Cuccinelli has also tried his best to halt all abortions, launched what looked like a witch hunt against climate-change scientists and generally pursued an ultra-conservative agenda with chilling gusto. Virginia has voted twice for President Obama; I’ll admit I was surprised when Cuccinelli won statewide office in 2009, even though the attorney general’s authority is limited. I’ll be really surprised if Virginians put him in the governor’s mansion, giving him the whole state as a sandbox.

You’d think the national GOP would try to avoid potential giveaways like these. But leading Republicans are too busy tying themselves in knots over issues that much of the country considers settled and done with — gay marriage, immigration reform, background checks for gun purchases, a balanced approach to debt reduction.

A party can be out of step on any of these issues and still win elections. But on all of them? I’m telling you, this has got to be some kind of trick.


By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, April 4, 2013

April 7, 2013 Posted by | GOP | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Remembering The Affair To Remember”: In New Bipartisan Spirit, Have Members Of Congress Tell Each Other About Their Affairs

It’s kind of nice to have Mark Sanford back.

Perhaps not if you’re from South Carolina. It is my strong impression that many South Carolinians are tired of their former governor, who so famously snuck off to Argentina for some extramarital recreation while his aides claimed he was camping on a national hiking path. A resident of Columbia, the state capital, told me that he had been in Peru, on a train to the legendary ruins of Machu Picchu, when a local resident asked him where he hailed from.

At the mention of the words “South Carolina,” the Peruvian nodded happily. “Appalachian Trail!” he cried.

After skulking around in political exile for several years, Sanford staged a sort of a comeback on Tuesday, winning the Republican nomination for his old House seat. It was a triumph of sorts, although one that only required defeating a former county legislator who did not live in the district, in a race that attracted the excited participation of about 10 percent of eligible citizens.

At his victory party, Sanford said the campaign had been “an amazing journey.” Since the great disaster of 2009, Sanford has taken to mentioning “this journey called life” rather frequently. Perhaps, in a perfect world, a guy who got in trouble for jetting off to assignations on the taxpayers’ dime would not focus quite so much on travel metaphors.

Sanford will now run against Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, a local businesswoman and sister of the comedian Stephen Colbert. She seems to be planning a deeply noncomedic campaign. But, still, hosting this race would be way more fun than being in Texas, wondering whether Rick Perry is going to run for a fourth — or is it fifth? — term.

Or in Tennessee, where lawmakers have just introduced bills to eliminate U.S. Senate primaries and let the state legislators pick the nominees. These new decision-makers would presumably include the members who recently expressed concern that the mop sink in a newly renovated Capitol men’s lavatory might actually be a special foot-washing facility for Muslims.

Or New York City, where a Democratic state senator has just been indicted on a charge of trying to bribe his way into the Republican nomination for mayor. Through the alleged services of a Republican city councilman, who has represented himself as a member of both the Tea Party and a tribe of Theodish pagans, making him what The Village Voice called “the first openly elected heathen in the nation.”

O.K., the heathen part was pretty good. However, dwelling on this story will only cause New Yorkers to revisit the fact that three of the last four full-time majority leaders of the New York State Senate have wound up under felony indictment.

I’d rather keep track of Mark Sanford’s evolution. So far, his spin strategy has been all about empathy and forgiveness. (“It’s only really in our brokenness that we really begin to understand each other.”) By the end of the primary, you had the impression that the key to a new bipartisan spirit in Washington would be having all the members of Congress tell each other about their affairs.

“There are too many people in politics who think that they know it all. And I think that they project this whole image of perfection,” he told Jake Tapper on CNN.

Not a problem here.

Since we last had Sanford to kick around, he’s been divorced and gotten engaged to the Argentinian squeeze. He virtually never mentions her and she barely got a shout-out on primary victory night. (“She completely surprised me,” claimed Sanford, who told Tapper that he just turned the corner on his way into the ballroom and there she was.)

His ex-wife, Jenny, has written a book about her marriage, and now South Carolinians know that Sanford is not just fiscally conservative; he’s also so personally cheap that he once gave his spouse a $25 used bicycle as a combined birthday-Christmas present. Also, there’s the revelation that he excused some of his mysterious absences from home by saying he needed to go off and relieve the stress he felt due to thinning hair.

Sanford has always had a terrible case of chronic self-absorption. Now that he’s talking about his feelings so much, it’s turned into a creepy New Age egomania. It began with his post-Appalachian-Trail press conference, when he rambled on and on about his love life as if the assembled reporters were best pals who’d invited him out for a drink. (“It was interesting how this thing has gone down. …”) More recently, according to New York magazine, he went to visit Jenny, who used to run his campaigns, and asked his still deeply estranged ex-spouse if she’d do another. “I could pay you this time,” he added empathetically.

Her refusal was probably a surprise. Like the victory night fiancée.


By: Gail Collins, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, April 3, 2013

April 5, 2013 Posted by | Congress | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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