Being a hypocrite is not (or at least should not be) an impeachable offense. And it almost seems like piling on to note that Gov. Mark Sanford has demonstrated himself to be a first-rate hypocrite.
Almost, but not entirely. There are times when the dead horse needs to be beaten, for the historic record, and to clearly articulate what is and is not acceptable behavior for future horses. This is such an occasion.
We're not talking about using the state plane to ferry his family on vacation, or lounging in the pricey seats while his staff flies coach; Mr. Sanford has his "contextual" explanations for those actions that are not entirely without merit, even if he himself would scoff at anyone who gave similar explanations. If he has in fact spent less tax money than his predecessors on travel, that would not absolve him of violating provisions of the State Ethics Act, which normally would draw fines or reprimands, but it's a legitimate point to make in the court of public opinion —- or impeachment proceedings.
There is no similar bye, though, for the way Mr. Sanford has reversed positions on transparency in government. Whether it's the ethics law or state spending or the legislative process, Mark Sanford has portrayed himself as Mr. Transparency. It was disturbing enough that he took so long to agree to authorize an "open" investigation into his possible violations of state ethics laws, which (theoretically) removes the veil of secrecy that normally shrouds such probes.
But he had barely gotten around to signing off on that before he trotted out his lawyer to threaten to take the Ethics Commission to court if it actually attempts to conduct a transparent investigation.
To read the complete editorial, visit The State (Columbia, S.C.).