Ringside Seat: Sanford v. Colbert Busch

Down in South Carolina, one of the more ridiculous special elections in recent history is wrapping up today. That the race in the extremely conservative 1st district is close at all can be attributed partly to the reflected fame of Democratic candidate Elizabeth Colbert Busch, who happens to be Stephen Colbert's sister, partly to the fact that she massively outraised him thanks to generous donation drops from D.C., but mostly to the fact that when approximately 275 Republicans ran in the primary (OK, it was only 16, but still), Mark Sanford—whose first name was officially changed to "Disgraced former governor" due to that one time he abandoned his official duties and his family to go "hike the Appalachian Trail," a.k.a. "run off to Argentina to see his mistress"—came out on top. There's nothing conservatives love more than a redemption story, and Sanford's chutzpah in making a political comeback may pay off, as late polls had him pulling even with Busch.

To be realistic, there are two possible outcomes here. The first is that Sanford wins, keeping the seat in Republican hands. The second is that Colbert Busch wins and gets to serve for all of a year and a half, whereupon she is defeated by whichever Republican gets the party's nomination in 2014, presumably one who has not become a national joke because of his or her high-profile marital infidelity.

It might actually benefit Democrats in the long run if Sanford wins. Republicans are already less than enthusiastic about the prospect of their former colleague rejoining them in Congress; when asked about it, House Speaker John Boehner gave a ringing endorsement: "The voters of the first district of South Carolina will make their decision," he said. "Just like any one of us or any of the 435 members of Congress, we don't get to choose who they are." Inspiring.

It's hard to see how Sanford, should he prevail, would become some kind of national Republican spokesman or an influential legislator. Instead, he'll continue to be a punch line, reminding voters of the long line of "family values" Republicans whose values, family-wise, involve cheating on your wife. Every time he goes on TV, people will say, "Hey, there's that Appalachian Trail guy. What a jerk." It should be a great boon to the GOP's effort to reach out to women voters.

So They Say

"I'm calling on the Supreme Leader of North Korea or as I call him 'Kim', to do me a solid and cut Kenneth Bae loose."

Self-appointed diplomat to North Korea Dennis Rodman, trying to rescue American citizens imprisoned in North Korea

Daily Meme: GOProblems

  • You thought the GOP's policy differences are what has left the Party in shambles. As Mitt Romney would say, "Ha, ha, ha."
  • No, the real reason that Republicans are in disarray is that Rob Portman smoked pot
  • Which everyone already knew about, but is apparently big news again!
  • That's not all, either. It gets worse. New Jersey governor Chris Christie had "secret stomach surgery" three months ago, and has already lost 40 pounds. Everyone knows that caring about your health is not the American way!
  • New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte wrote an op-ed this morning with the headline, "I Voted to Improve Background Checks," which, if I recall correctly, is the OPPOSITE of what a proper conservative is supposed to say on this issue.
  • The perpetual full-court press on Benghazi isn't working so well despite many...
  • ... many ....
  • ... many ...
  • .... many attempts.
  • Actually, all these problems seem run-on-the-mill for the Grand Old Party. Talking about policy after this would be a relief! 
  • And when I say "talking about policy," that doesn't mean "not passing it." Okay? Okay.

What We're Writing

  • Ted Cruz is the craziest new Tea Party senator in the capitol, but Abby Rapoport says that in Texas they love insanity as much as they love bluster, and Cruz continues to be a darling in the Lone Star State
  • Niall Ferguson is only the latest Harvard professor to embarrass himself over economics this year, and he's not the first to level absurd arguments against John Maynard Keynes on account of Keynes's sexual orientation. But Jeet Heer thinks we might gain from thinking about Keynes' sexiness anyway

What We're Reading

  • Drone maven and CIA chief John Brennan has taken at least one step in the right direction, replacing the head of the clandestine service who had previously run black sites (secret torture bases).
  • Facebook head honcho Mark Zuckerberg is losing ad revenue from progressive groups who don't hold truck with his new dark money group, FWD.us
  • The Obama administration is struggling to defend its indefensible prohibition of over-the-counter Plan B. Judge Korman is tearing the President's lawyer a new one, and it's glorious.
  • The GOP's new bill, the Working Families Flexibility Act, is meant to reach out to women, but predictably, it deprives them and other working-class people of power.
  • We're going to broil the planet in a few dozen years, but don't worry about missing it—the apocalypse starts early. CO2 in the atmosphere is turning the arctic oceans into corrosive acid soups, and it will end up killing every cute, furry, penguiny animal at both poles.

Poll of the Day

There's some good news from Pew on guns, with the gun homicide rate down 49 percent since its peak in 1993. That year saw seven deaths per 100,000 people and 2010 saw just over half that, 3.6 per 100,000. Interestingly, 45 percent of Americans think that the number of gun crimes has gone up, with 39 believing it has stayed the same, and a bare 10 percent believing the truth. 

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