Remember how Bill Clinton had sex with some lady who wasn't his wife and everyone freaked the fuck out? Republicans immediately began holding cute little trials for him and calling him terrible names and things, for a year. Sadly—tragically, in fact—Sanford was never a moralizing Lindsay Graham type, wondering how he'd explain this all to his innocent children. But hey, he did vote for impeachment!
He bravely voted to impeach the President for lying about an affair, even though he knew it was politically unpopular. ''People's appetite for stepping out on the impeachment plank has substantially diminished,'' Sanford said the day before it happened.
So Sanford voted, honorably, to continue the madness and send impeachment to the Senate, where it never had a chance of happening. When the independent counsel brought the charges, we couldn't really say, 'No problem.' You had to signal this was not OK," he explained in 1999.
"You've got your clear attack dogs. They love it, they don't mind living in glass houses and throwing rocks," said Mark Sanford, a South Carolina Republican. "But most of us feel uncomfortable in the role of judge. It isn't exactly why we came to Congress. We're off center and edgy."
Poor guy! He did realize, throughout, that this issue was a political loser, because no one in America expected Bill to be faithful, because Republicans had spent years telling everyone what a bitch his wife was. As he told the Boston Globe in 1998:
"In politics you can get away with anything as long as it's what's expected," says Representative Mark Sanford, a Republican from South Carolina. "If people expect you to be a rascal, you can be a rascal. That he is a rascal has been discounted. But he is also an engaging personality - and things can't get better than this in the economy."
Sadly, people did not expect Mark Sanford to be "a rascal," and so he will pay for his own infidelities, and craziness.
But hey, Sanford was just punishing Clinton for lying under oath. That's a crime! It was the lying, not the sex! Sanford certainly wouldn't get up on his soapbox about another man's flaws unless a law was broken, right? Tell it to Bob Livingston!
The now-forgotten Bob Livingston was the GOP's House Speaker-elect, until Larry Flynt tracked down ladies who claimed they'd slept with him, because every single Republican in Congress back then had cheated on his wife. This outraged Sanford.
As he said on Crossfire, at the time: "The bottom line is Livingston lied. He lied to his wife."
And the Associated Press:
Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., said he would be "struggling" during Christmas over whether to support Livingston, even though the speaker-designate had not broken the law. "We as a party want to hold ourselves to high standards, period," Sanford said.
And, even more emphatically:
But one House Republican, Mark Sanford, said: "The bottom line is that he lied under a different oath -the oath to his wife."
Yes. Well. The '90s! What a crazy time! How could he have known how alluring he'd some day find his dear, dear Argentinian friend?