In South Carolina, Gov. Sanford--who abandoned the state for a few days to be with his paramour, lied to his staff about it and then gave a practically incoherent press conference to explain his actions--will probably stay in office.
Why? Because the Republicans who control the state would rather have him, crazy as he is, than the Lt. Governor in office. There are a couple reasons for that. First, the Lt. Governor, Andre Bauer, has his own problems and is a political enemy of Sanford. Bauer could easily do something just as strange as Sanford, and the GOP could ill afford the double whammy. (Bauer is rumored to be gay, but he denies it, which of course is meaningless.)
Second, if Bauer moves up, then Glenn McConnell, who is the powerful President Pro Tem of the state senate, would have to move into the Lt. Governor's office. That would be horrid exchange for him--the real power is in leading the Senate, not in the largely ceremonial Lt. Governor's office.
McConnell would probably decline to move, setting off a constitutional crisis and perhaps a scramble for power, all looking quite unseemly.
Can Democrats take advantage of the GOP's woes in the Palmetto State? While we'd like to think so, we doubt it. More likely, the mess will help scramble the Republicans and bring some new faces to the fore.
Maybe it's time for our old friend Oscar Lovelace--who scored nearly 40% of the votes in a primary contest against Sanford two years ago--to jump back in. We bet a lot of SC Republicans now wish they'd cast their lot with Lovelace back then, rather than giving Sanford a second term.
Meanwhile, in Alaska, Governor Sarah Palin says she's stepping down. Her press conference to explain why was about as incoherent as Sanford's. She says she's resigning because she isn't seeking a second term--she doesn't want to subject Alaska's voters to a lame-duck governor.
That, of course, is complete nonsense. Instead, she'll subject them to a special election and deprive them of the governor they elected for four years (not three). She could easily be a "good" lame duck governor if she wanted, but instead she's resigning.
Will Palin still pursue the GOP presidential nomination? Hard to tell. We certainly thought it was a mistake when NC Sen. John Edwards left his seat to run for President full-time. Without being governor, Palin loses her platform of legitimacy and simply becomes someone whose sole ambition is to be President. (Ok, so that's a lot like Huckabee and Romney, but that's really the point--don't the Republicans have anyone they'd like to elevate on the basis of merit, rather than raw ambition?)
How about this for the GOP: a family values ticket, with Palin at the top, Sanford as VP, Ensign for Sec. of State, Vitter at Treasury, and Larry "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Craig at Defense.