In Thursday's Wall Street Journal, Barton Swaim, a WEEKLY STANDARD contributor and former speechwriter for Mark Sanford, reviews a new ebook about the disgraced-governor-turned-congressman from South Carolina:
"Second Chance" is an engaging portrait of Mr. Sanford: The author retells his youth and early manhood in Fort Lauderdale and the South Carolina Lowcountry; his brief time at Goldman Sachs in New York and awkward first encounters with Jenny, whom he would marry in 1989; his congressional years (1995-2001) and two terms as governor. The book concentrates especially on his controversial opposition to President Obama's stimulus bill in early 2009 and follows him through the scandal and departure from office until, several months ago, he decided to run for his old congressional seat. (The seat had been vacated by Tim Scott after Mr. Scott's elevation to the Senate.) Mr. Bartelme punctuates the narrative with scenes from Election Day, May 7, 2013—a nice touch that keeps the story moving—and concludes with an emboldened Mr. Sanford comparing himself not to King David this time but to Lazarus.
Yet there is a problem with "Second Chance": Too much of Mr. Bartelme's narrative comes directly from Mr. Sanford. The anecdotes about his life are the ones he routinely tells about himself: the story of how, after the death of his father, he and his brothers built a coffin and buried him on the family farm; the story of how he got into politics after hearing a lecture on entitlement spending and the national debt; the story of how the newly elected governor was approached by a legislative leader and told that, to be the best governor he could be, he needed to follow the advice of legislative leaders (advice he rejected).
Mr. Bartelme's Mark Sanford is a charming and eccentric man with a penchant for getting elected despite some cockamamie political views. The truth is closer to the reverse. Mr. Sanford is among the most prescient and dauntless politicians now in office, and he is almost alone in both grasping the implications of untrammeled deficit spending and having the pluck to stand against it. Yet he is also a deeply self-absorbed man, instinctively ill-humored and petty, relentless in the pursuit of glory and apt to equate the greater good with whatever benefits his reputation.
Read the whole thing here.