South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford was already being talked about as a potential Republican Party standard-bearer in the 2012 election. Youthful, good-looking, a Southerner, and a Washington outsider, he seemed to have much of what the party needed to energize a comeback from the disappointments of the last two election cycles.
Now happy Party strategists are basking in an unexpected bonus. This week Sanford polished his virile image with an announcement that instead of hiking the Appalachian Trail as he'd told his staff, he'd actually been visiting his mistress, Maria, in exotic Argentina.
Right-wing blogs lit up with excited discussion of the Republicans' continuing good fortune. Only a week before, Nevada Senator John Ensign, another potential candidate, announced with a fanfare that he was quitting his go-nowhere, fourth-ranking Senate post in order to pursue a dalliance with a staff member, while retaining his Senate seat, where he will be ideally poised for a political leap.
Nevada has another rising star in Governor Jim Gibbons, who recently burnished his own already potent image with news of unbridled sexuality. Meanwhile, back in the Senate, David Vitter of Louisiana — not to be outdone — has been quietly talking up his own robust record of "very serious" whoring.
In a related development, a "Draft Craig" movement has gotten underway on the streets of Boise, attempting to lure former Idaho Senator Larry Craig back into politics. Craig did not run for re-election after being caught engaging in homosexual activity in an airport bathroom in 2007, but in the new political climate, according to RNC spokesman Rod Foray, "the gay thing is a plus now" — the sheer force of the former Senator's "omnivorous" appetites outweigh any lingering Republican discomfort with homosexuality.
Gearing up to meet the challenge, Democratic leaders announced the formation of a blue-ribbon panel headed by Bill Clinton, which will attempt to counter the onslaught of positive press for the Republicans. ("You can't buy that kind of publicity," said an unnamed staffer.) The Clinton Commission, which also includes former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey, and former Senator and presidential candidate Gary Hart, has announced plans for a European fact-finding mission.
The American statesmen will meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Italian Premiere Silvio Berlusconi, and representatives of the British League of Autoerotic Asphyxiants.