Should We Admire Sanford's Honesty?

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
June 25 2009 12:34 PM

Should We Admire Sanford's Honesty?

Slate ’s Will Saletan has a provocative defense of Sanford today:

I feel awful for Sanford's wife and kids. But compared with all the cheaters who have gone before him, I don't think less of him for genuinely loving the other woman or for admitting it. It beats the hell out of seducing somebody, kicking her to the curb, and pretending she was nothing to you-or really meaning it.


I suppose there is some honesty in that. But let’s remember that he was doing it at a press conference . Surely John Edwards and John Ensign and even Eliot Spitzer have explanations for what drew them to their mistress, or prostitutes. Surely these explanations would humanize them and force us to picture standing in their shoes (or pants, I guess). But they stay silent, because they implicitly understand that, at that moment, any self-serving explanation comes at the expense of the people they have betrayed. True repentance does not begin with self justification and elaborate vows to repent. It begins with some form of suffering.

For such a private man, Sanford seems to make little distinction between his inner and public lives. In the press conference, he seemed to regard his responsibility to South Carolina’s voters as equal to his responsibility to his wife. In the same e-mail, he writes to his mistress about becoming a vice presidential candidate and about the "erotic beauty of you holding yourself." This is the natural consequence, I suppose, of having turned "family values" into a political issue; after a while the distinctions begin to blur.

Hanna Rosin is the founder of DoubleX and a writer for the Atlantic. She is also the author of The End of Men. Follow her on Twitter.



The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers


Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.


The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
Dear Prudence
Oct. 23 2014 6:00 AM Monster Kids from poorer neighborhoods keep coming to trick-or-treat in mine. Do I have to give them candy?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 8:51 AM The Male-Dominated Culture of Business in Tech Is Not Great for Women
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 9:00 AM Exclusive Premiere: Key & Peele Imagines the Dark Side of the Make-A-Wish Program
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 23 2014 7:30 AM Our Solar System and Galaxy … Seen by an Astronaut
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.