From columnist Mark Steyn:
In a lousy week, Mark Sanford had one stroke of luck: Michael Jackson chose the day after the governor's news conference to moonwalk into eternity, and thus gave the media's pop therapists a more rewarding subject to feast on – or at any rate one of the few stories whose salient points are weirder than Sanford's. Not that the governor didn't do his best to keep his end up on the pop culture allusions: "I've spent the last five days crying in Argentina," he revealed, in presumably unconscious hommage to Evita.
The plot owed less to Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber than to one of those Fox movies of the early Forties in which some wholesome All-American type escapes the stress and strain of modern life by taking off for a quiet weekend in Latin America, and the next thing you know they're doing the rhumba on the floor of a Rio nightclub surrounded by Carmen Miranda and 200 gay caballeros prancing around waving giant bananas. In this case, the gentlemen of the South Carolina Press were the befuddled caballeros and Gov. Sanford was bananas.
There is a rather large point to all this. As my National Review colleague Kathryn Jean Lopez observed, a sex scandal a week from the Republicans will guarantee us government health care by the fall – in the same way that the British Tories' boundlessly versatile sexual predilections helped deliver the Blair landslide of 1997. And once government health care's in place the game's over: Socialized medicine redefines the relationship between the citizen and the state in all the wrong ways, and, if you cross that bridge, it's all but impossible to go back. So, if ever there were a season for GOP philanderers not to unpeel their bananas, this summer is it. . . .
I was asked the other day about the difference between American and British sex scandals. In its heyday, Brit sex was about the action – Lord Lambton's three-in-a-bed biracial sex romp; Harvey Proctor's industrial-scale spanking of rent boys; Max Mosley's Nazi bondage sessions, with a fine eye for historical accuracy and the orders barked out in surprisingly accurate German; Stephen Milligan's accidental auto-erotic asphyxiation while lying on a kitchen table wearing fishnet stockings….
With the exception of the last ill-fated foray, there was an insouciance to these remarkably specialized peccadilloes.
By contrast, American sex scandals seem to be either minor campaign-finance infractions – the cheerless half-hearted affair with an aide – or, like Gov. Sanford's pitiful tale (at least as recounted at his news conference and as confirmed by the e-mails), a glimpse of loneliness and social isolation, as if in the end all they want is the chance to be sitting at the bar telling the gal with the nice smile, "My wife, and my staffers, and my security detail, and the State House press corps, and the guy who writes my Twitter Tweet of the Day, don't understand me."
Small government, narrow responsibilities, part-time legislators and executives, a minimal number of aides, lots of days off: Let's burst the bubble.