The Fire Next Time

Mark Sanford Rising From The AshesIn this day of anonymous email trashings, un-informed blog posts, and you tube mistakes that last forever, we rarely see political second chances. But last week a disgraced public servant rose like a Phoenix from the ashes to reclaim former glory in the political arena.

Mark Sanford has been elected to represent Charleston, and South Carolina, in the United States Congress. In a room where everyone is addressed as “honorable” Sanford will have an opportunity to regain the revered glow that accompanied him during his magical time as governor of one of the self-proclaimed great states in this country, and finally become the Tea Party darling he was projected to be when misfortune interfered.

Sanford’s story is well-known; here in the Palmetto State, across the former Confederacy, and everywhere people can view The Daily Show. A former congressman who captured the governorship during the Republican heyday in 2002, he had a contentious relationship with a state legislature dominated by his own party. Despite public and ugly clashes, Sanford was easily re-elected. Then he decided to go hiking.

The Governor disappeared from sight just before Father’s Day weekend in 2009, ostensibly to walk the Appalachian Trail. Instead he was eventually discovered returning from Argentina, where he had spent quality time with a woman named Maria Chapur. No details were given as to what sights the couple saw in South America.

In defense of Sanford, wife Jenny had four sons to keep her occupied and probably didn’t seem quite as enticing in her bathrobe and curlers as the recurring boyhood fantasy of a hot-blooded Latin Lovely. Besides, the new woman turned out to be Sanford’s Soul Mate. Who knew? Maybe there is an abundance of soul mates closer to the Equator.

The Governor tearfully confessed, resigned from his job, and endured the wrath of every female talk show host in America. As it turned out, while he was licking his wounded pride, Sanford was hatching a plan for resurgence.

He spent many months getting re-acquainted with voters and the Lord. And he waited. Soon a spot opened up when Jim DeMint retired; Sanford’s former congressional seat. After defeating several unknown opponents in the Republican primary, Sanford only had to vanquish a woman known primarily for being Stephen Colbert’s sister. The final tally wasn’t close.

Lots of folks both inside and outside South Carolina have a problem with Mark Sanford representing constituents in Congress, especially so soon after his indiscretions. Many people, especially women from somewhere other than Dixie, felt Sanford permanently sacrificed future opportunities to serve the people.

But those folks don’t understand how things work down south. Biblically, all of us are considered sinners, so forgiveness is offered to almost anyone who shows humility and regret. Sanford has done this a lot since he reappeared publicly. He even got his ex-wife to manage his campaign. In the end Mark Sanford was re-elected because he worked hard to gain redemption and South Carolina voters forgave him.

Besides, adultery and bearing false witness aren’t so serious. If Sanford had adopted a gay lifestyle, he would still be unelected. That one’s covered in the Good Book. Making things even easier; Sanford’s opponent was also guilty of an unforgivable sin here in the South.

She is a democrat.

Mark Sanford Rising From The Ashes - image created for - base images from the Sanford campaign's Facebook page and a photo Canine-Lupus at of his school's pep rally.
Mike Cox

Mike Cox

Mike Cox currently writes a weekly column in South Carolina for the Columbia Star called "It's Not a Criticism, It's an Observation." He is trying to grow old as gracefully as possible without condemning the current generation in charge to doom. Each day this task gets harder as the overwhelming evidence mounts. He currently has two published books; Finding Daddy Cox, and October Saturdays. His columns have won three South Carolina Press Association awards since 2003. Mike has three sons and two grandchildren and lives in Irmo, Sc, just outside of Columbia.