Posted by Jack @ 9:06 pm on June 24th 2009

RedState Reaction to the Sanford Affair

In my limited contribution to TCP, I am freqently tempted to go the Sadly, No route and snag the low hanging fruit from ridiculously hackish right wing sites for an enthusiastic fisking. I have, for the most part, resisted this impulse. But few sites are more indicative of the death spiral of modern movement conservatism than, and I am compelled to select something recent as a mark of how far they have fallen. Once, I read RedState regularly to keep my finger on mainstream conservative thought, but now, they are but a half step up from freeper-land. Witness the strained reaction to the Sanford affair. Yesterday,’s lead blogger, the ever irrational Erick “the Erick” Erickson aggressively defended a perfectly reasonable hiking trip by the now disgraced South Carolina governor from the dreaded liberal media’s unwarranted attacks:

First, we need to be clear on the facts, not the media speculation:

– Sanford did tell his staff and family where he was going.
– Because he was traveling without a security detail, it was in his best interests that no one knew he was gone.
– His political enemies, Republicans at that, ginned up the media story.
– When confronted by a pestering media, things went downhill.
– Again though, at all times there was no doubt that Sanford’s staff and family knew where he was.

And today:

Well, what I wrote yesterday was wrong. Sanford’s lies spread through his office and out to the rest of us.

The left is linking to yesterday’s post to laugh at it. What they are missing is that most of us tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, even people like John Edwards.

Ah (incomplete) self awareness. Let me assure you that “the left” is not alone in laughing at you; I think the center is pretty freaking amused as well. The morose, hurtful tone of this is just pitiful. Erick, you deserve to be laughed at for your obviously partisan defense of Sanford’s disappearance, and you deserve further riducule for you suggestion that your side gives people the benefit of the doubt. There are few more clealry partisan hacks in the blogosphere than Erick Erickson, I know, I get RedState’s consistantly overwrought, distortive, hacktastic email alerts. So get real.


We have each other. I’m off in a bit to hang out with friends from my Bible Study. Sanford probably has none of that. I’m sure John Edwards did not. Nor Bill Clinton. Nor John Ensign.

You could not possibly be both one of the most popular conservative bloggers on the internet AND one of the least aware of the facts surrounding this issue, could you? Is it possible that you are not aware of Sanford and Ensign’s C Street Group? You know, the bible study group? Like the one to which you are headed? OK, maybe that is too recently in the headlines, but surely you have heard of Senator Ensign’s participation in Promise Keepers? It seems to me that Senator Ensign had exactly what you are talking about: a religiously based support group complete with close knit male friends, which worked out fine until he started fucking one of their wives. So to sum up: This paragraph of yours? Utter bullshit on every level.

What Mark Sanford did was wrong. He needs to go in a dark hole somewhere where no one can see him or hear him and rehabilitate himself. On the bright side, I doubt his indiscretions will affect the FisCon movement. The left is going to spend the next week making Sanford into the second coming of James Dobson to smear real marriage advocates and social conservatives’ positions Sanford was rarely vocal on.

Well, I’m not sure what fucked up rehabilitory theory Erickson supports, but isolated dark holes seems a bit in conflict with his previously stated affection for bible study groups, but that is a minor point. I admire the speed and audacity with which Mark Sanford has been declared not a Real True Christian.

But Erick Erickson’s reaction pales in comparison to the childish ranting from his coblogger, E Pluribus Unum, in the very next post down:

By all means report the facts. Iím sure youíll be happy to cover every salacious detail. Have at it. Be sure to cover the pain and suffering of Governor Sanfordís family. While you are at it, cover the depth to which all South Carolina and nation-wide Republicans and conservatives rightly feel betrayed.

Beyond that, just shut up. Shut your lying, hypocritical, power-above-patriotism, hyper-partisan, two-faced, shamelessly double-standard bearing pie hole.

You donít get to judge.

The Library of Congress could hardly contain chapter and verse of the multitudes of ways the press and the other Democrats have gotten away with judging Republicans by wholly different standards than that applied to Democrats. But that double standard is both obvious and as wide as the Grand Canyon. You show no honor, no equity, no fairness, and no scruples yourselves. You, to put it mildly, do not police your own.

We do. Weíll deal with Sanford. We have standards (you donít), and we have a long history of punishing and purging our leaders who prove unworthy of trust. For your part, serial adulterer Bill Clinton remains a rock star as far as you are concerned, and that about sums up the standards to which Democrats hold themselves..

So, spare us your mock outrage, your tut-tutting, your finger-wagging, your eyebrows furrowed in anger. If you are well and truly outraged by Mark Sanfordís adultery, but could not trouble yourself to muster even a little mild disapproval against the cretin who wiped his feet with the honor of the office of President of the United States, then you are a hypocrite yourself of the lowest stripe. You are unworthy to judge.

So just shut up.

And how is this post tagged? First: Lying democrats. Second: Lying media.

Classy. In other news, I think E Pluribus’ mom cancelled his World of Warcraft account.


  1. Fixed the “aggressively defended” RedState link.

    Comment by Jack — 6/25/2009 @ 9:25 am

  2. To be fair to Erikson, at least his earliest post, there was no reason to believe, at various points of this story, that what he was saying was wrong (well, without the partisan tone anyway). His office did indeed put out a lot of statements saying more or less what he was saying (including that his wife knew where he was, which she at one point contradicted), and of course in hindsight they were mindlessly snowing, but there was no reason to think at the time that they were lying to cover up the Governor traveling to Argentina to have an affair. In other words, it was a pretty fair mistake on his part, I think, and even those of us not normally inclined to believing press flaks would never have been able to guess just how weird things were.

    Comment by Brad — 6/25/2009 @ 12:33 pm

  3. No, just no:

    Erickson had three points, or purposes, for this post, and all of them wrong:

    1. To suggest that everything was above board, i.e., that staff and family knew at all times where the governor was and what he was doing.

    – Sanford did tell his staff and family where he was going.
    – Because he was traveling without a security detail, it was in his best interests that no one knew he was gone.

    – Again though, at all times there was no doubt that Sanfordís staff and family knew where he was.

    Even before we learned of the Big Lie, it was clear that the staff and family had a rather incomplete picture of what was going on. The stonewalling, pushback, delays, and vagueness of responses were pretty apparent from the begining. And this is the most defensible of Erickson’s claims.

    2. To suggest that the controversy was entirely manufactured by Sanford’s enemies in coordination with the media:

    His political enemies ó Republicans at that ó ginned up the media story.
    When confronted by a pestering media, things went downhill.


    the reaction from the erstwhile Republicans angry at Sanford for not being a fiscal squish and from the media

    While political enemies may have been involved, this has nothing to do with the legitamacy or news value of the controversy. The governor disappeared for a week! No one was in contact for most of that time, and his location was not known, or if you prefer, known only in the vaguest sense.

    3. That there is nothing untoward about the state executive authority going incommunicado for an entire week, unreachable and location known only in the vaguest sense.

    …that without Sanford manning the barricades of government at all times, the government will collapse and people will starve, die, and forget how to read and write.

    Thatís it.

    But that did not happen. Life in South Carolina went on. The world did not end. Government did not go off the rails. That the media and politicians would react as they did says more about their world view than anything else.

    It is refreshing that Mark Sanford is secure enough in himself and the people of South Carolina that he does not view himself as an indispensable man.

    But this is absurd! We don’t assess the wisdom, legality, or appropriateness of an action based upon an instance in which bad things did not happen, but rather upon a combination of risk, responsibility, and potential impact. That I made it home safely last night during a highspeed, drunken, drug fueled binge, with my head lights off, and on the wrong side of the road does not in any way mean that criticism of my actions is manufactured or that others should find it refreshing that Jack is secure enough in himself and the people on I-95 that he does not view himself as a disaster in the making.

    So no, there is nothing defensible about Erickson’s clearly partisan hackery in support of erratic, unprofessional, and poorly considered acts by the state executive. I don’t fault him for not knowing that this was an international booty call, I fault him for defending every aspect of the behavior, to the extent of even applauding his Sanford’s security decisions, and doing so for reasons based solely on his preference for the man’s ideology.

    Comment by Jack — 6/25/2009 @ 1:20 pm

  4. I think you’re making way too much of it, and are taking for granted the benefit of hindsight. You’re not wrong per se, as clearly you’re right about the partisan nature of his knee-jerk response. But again, events could have turned out in such a way, after Erikson’s posting, that could have completely vindicated him, and there would have been no way for you or I to predict against that at the time (we could bet against it, but that’s different).

    Consider: what if it had turned out that the initial response of the staff was true. Sanford had gone out hiking on the Appalachian Trail, hoping to get away for an extended weekend, maybe do some writing, mostly hike, and just tell, say, one key guy. Monday might have come, Sanford back in the office, he would have caught some flak for some confusion, but for the most part people would just chalk it up to an eccentricity and the story would be dead by today, with just some SC grousing and a Daily Show segment.

    The story changed pretty fast, but at certain points, it really DID look like that was all it was going to turn out to be. Stories that are developing that quickly change all the time, and unknown elements suddenly appear. Could have been that his Chief of Staff and a few other need-to-knows were in contact with Stanford and it was just his press flaks that were caught off-guard when it was late Friday and questions came in, in which case it all would have just looked like a silly little instance of miscommunication. Could have been that Sanford was on some government business that he didn’t want to disclose or couldn’t disclose. Maybe he and a few other key Republicans had stolen away to a log cabin and would triumphantly return on Monday with a balanced state budget. Hell, even the security excuse might have been right, and Tuesday would roll around and there would have been a press conference saying Sanford had cooperated with the FBI in flushing out a right wing militia that had made death threats against him, so they used him as “bait” and flushed out a dozen domestic terrorists. And we simply could not have known which of those might have been the case at the time. All those are slightly silly and seemingly pretty far-out scenarios, but not really any more far out than the idea that he had disappearing to Buenos Ares to have an affair with a lady he met online.

    In fact, I would say that Erikson’s interpretation was a lot more reasonable and logical a conclusion than what turned out to be the reality of it. Certainly, it was a generous guess, but about as likely as anything at the time.

    Good points on all the rest, but just on that piece of it, I think even reasonable non-partisans could have been excused for choosing to give Sanford the benefit of the doubt. The fact, of course, that Erikson is anything but a reasonable non-partisan notwithstanding.

    Comment by Bra — 6/25/2009 @ 3:32 pm

  5. “Bra”,
    First, I have done a bit of amateur sleuthing, and I am pretty sure you are a sock puppet for one of our regular bloggers, I just can’t figure out which one, heh.

    But the real point: Erick did not merely say “this all could be reasonable”, he asserted, aggressively, that it absolutely is reasonable, and that all facts support this, and that the attention is overwrought, manufactured, and purely partisan. It was none of those. I think we are partially in agreement that the attention paid was legit, i.e. it was news worthy (even assuming one of your scenarios). I think we are in partial agreement that it was not just the product of partisan attacks. Where we are still in apparant disagreement is the consistancy and rationality of the story as it was coming out Monday and Tuesday. I defer to TPM:

    By Monday, the governor had been unreachable for four days, without his security detail, and without transferring power to the state number 2. His office put out a comically vague statement that afternoon saying he needed to “recharge after the stimulus battle.” His wife, meanwhile, had said she didn’t know where he was but that he was “writing something and wanted some space to get away from the kids” — on Father’s Day. Next the Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer’s office told reporters that the governor’s office said they’d spoken to Sanford and knew his whereabouts, only to be contradicted a little over an hour later by the governor’s office, now saying it never said it had spoken to Sanford. That night, Bauer’s office issued a statement charging the governor’s office with giving out misleading information. Shortly afterwards, a new statement from Sanford’s office: he’s hiking the Appalachian Trail – which, conveniently, is 2500 miles long. No location was specified, and no one seemed to have seen the governor making preparations for the trip. The next morning, Sanford’s office issued yet another statement saying Sanford had called the office, that he was “taken aback” by the fuss, and would be back at work Wednesday. But still no specifics on where exactly he was.

    Comment by Jack — 6/25/2009 @ 4:12 pm

  6. Well, fair enough. He certainly bent over backwards to give the most generous read of events possible. But that read was possible, and given the complete absence of facts and continuity (even the facts that were coming out seemed to keep contradicting each other, and that includes facts in support of a generous read as well as facts in support of a damning read), I can’t really blame anybody for being wrong. I can sure blame their certainty, but at the time of his writing, I still think Erikson’s interpretation of things had as much likelihood of being borne out as pretty much every single other interpretation. I was reading liberal blogs mostly (dailykos, TPM, etc.) about this story, and while they were certainly less ardent about it than Erikson, the implication heavily being leaned on was that something was amiss. And, in retrospect, they were right, but for all they knew he had gone to Afghanistan to personally bring back Osama Bin Laden and a viable bipartisan universal health care solution, and he’d return, triumphant and with everything wrapped up in a neat little bow.

    When there is absolutely no reliable information, pretty much every guess is as good as any other. So, while it’s certainly true that he was wrong and it was dumb of him to even venture to presume “the facts”, there was nothing inherently ridiculous about his read, I don’t think.

    Comment by Brad — 6/25/2009 @ 5:28 pm

  7. Well, now I think that you, me, and Bra are devolvig into nit picking differences. Look, I am not saying it is off the wall or ludicrous to suggest, at the time of Erick’s first post, that we should refrain from assuming the worst, and that it is possible, (I’ll spot you “probable” for the sake of argument) that this will all turn out to be roughly what his office said: a loner hiking expedition. I find your alternative explanations a bit difficult to swallow, and I am curious if you can come up with any example in which the official disappeared, everyone began to speculate in a negative direction, and the official returned having done something triumphant. Count those versus “official was shagging someone, not his wife” and lets see what is more likely.

    But. Even if we grant all that, I still insist this is not what Erickson did. At all. Every statement he made was either demonstrably false, ludicrously argued, particanly motivated, or hackishly delivered, even at the time he made them. This assessment is reenforced by the after the fact response, and hammered home by his coblogger Unum.

    And this is how RedState operates, ALL the time. They are the poster child for moronic, childish, right wing hack jobs masquerading as conservatism. They are quite representative of all that is wrong in modern conservatism. T

    Comment by Jack — 6/25/2009 @ 5:43 pm

  8. T indeed.

    Comment by Brad — 6/25/2009 @ 7:57 pm

  9. I saw the WoW cancellation freak out with less than 500 views.

    Comment by Jerrod — 6/25/2009 @ 11:14 pm

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