The Saga of Mark Sanford.

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The New York Times has a nice piece on the political revival of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, a year (and some) after the summer of national mockery surrounding his affair with an Argentine woman:

After the scandal, Mr. Sanford, who had been considered a likely presidential candidate in 2012, resigned as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. He was nearly impeached by the Legislature, which instead censured him for bringing “ridicule, dishonor, disgrace and shame” on the state.

Even Mr. Sanford concedes he was “very, very close” to resigning. “I wanted to curl up,” he said. “I wanted to go down to my farm in Beaufort County and never see another TV for the rest of my life.”

That would have been a terrible mistake, a surrender to his weaker nature, he said. Voters seem to agree. A survey last month by Winthrop University in Rock Hill showed that 70 percent of the state believes Mr. Sanford deserves “a passing grade” for his governorship. Many former critics have now reversed themselves.

I'm not sure Sanford is relevant anymore, but at the very least, this is another data point in favor of Matthew Yglesias' view that sex-scandal-ridden politicians should just weather the storm, rather than resign. This goes double if you're a Republican and/or conservative evangelical; for whatever reason, conservatives are extremely willing to forgive infidelity among their own, even when it flies in the face of the party's stance on family values.

As with David Vitter and Jon Ensign, a simple act of contrition was enough for most conservatives to forget about Sanford's affair, and turn their focus back to his governance. Which has been great for his standing within the party, though not so much for the people of South Carolina.

-- Jamelle Bouie

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