Against all apparent rhyme and reason, ex-Governor Mark "Appalachian Trail" Sanford won election Tuesday to a vacant Congressional seat in South Carolina, beating his Democratic opponent Elizabeth Colbert Busch by about 10 percentage points.
He managed this feat in spite of an amazing record of worthlessness:
1. He lies. While governor, he took off for Argentina for five days visitng his mistress and said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.
2. He steals. He used public funds for his junkets to see his sweetie.
3. He cheats. He cheated on his wife.
4. He's a hypocrite, using the old Republican "second chance because God forgives me" pseudo-religious out. Not only does this public guilt-and-remorse proclamation give him a second shot at public office but it shows how crafty these famously "family value" Republicans are. They can mess around and then come running back into the fold with no accountability. In fairness, I acknowledge Bill Clinton did it too but at least he didn't first go around harping on "family values."
5. He apparently has evil intentions. On Tuesday night he gleefully gloated, "I want to acknowledge a God not just of second chances but of third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth." Golly, that's a lot of pre-excused sin he's contemplating.
5. He's a divorced woman's nightmare, the man you can't get rid of. First he breaks your heart and then he breaks the law by sauntering into YOUR home even though he is legally prohibited from being there. You're a nothing in his eyes, and he obviously enjoys rubbing that in and casually making more problems even after you're divorced.
6. He's a criminal and a scoff-law. He entered his ex-wife's home illegally. The law either means something or it doesn't. How can you be the ultimate lawmaker - a Congressman - and have no respect for law?
So why did he win? It's important to know because this district was supposedly one of the Democrats' best hopes for winning the 17 seats needed to take back a majority in the House and get some governing done.
Aye, but there's the rub. It wasn't really a high-hope prospect at all. This Congressional district is highly Republican. Elections are about numbers, and the most telling numbers of all are the totals registered in each party. Those totals are telling because they almost variably tell us who is going to win.
There is another telling aspect to this race. Sanford's opponent, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, campaigned like an amateur, which is what she is. She made the business person's mistake of not taking the race seriously enough. She just didn't campaign much, making too few appearances. Apparently she also was vague in her platform. So what was this election from her perspective? Was it an "anybody but Sanford" election in which the prize would just drop into her lap?
It doesn't work like that. You gotta want it. You gotta work for it. You gotta go door-to-door for it.
She also was carrying baggage, namely her famous brother. Stephen Colbert is chiefly famous for making fun of the very sort of people who live in the district his sister wanted to represent. I don't quite see how that was going to work out in her favor.
Yes, she came closer in her percentage of the total vote than Obama did in that district in 2012. He lost it to Romney by about 20 points, so she bested the President's percentage by 10 points. But so what? That and a dollar won't even get you a cup of coffee.
In South Carolina, as everywhere else, close doesn't get you the cigar. Colbert Busch didn't even get close enough for a stick of chewing gum. To win a GOP district a Democratic candidate has to work like hell, have a clear platform, and not be carrying the weight of all her brother's mockery of her electorate.
In short, a successful Democrat in Tuesday's race had to be someone who was not Elizabeth Colbert Busch.