What Bill Clinton Can Teach Mark Sanford

I made the point earlier that Bill Clinton was famously saved by the perception that he was  undistracted by his affair and the he was still focused on the country's business. The public tended to blame the GOP for the impeachment trial, the circus, the vast distraction that was the Monica Lewinsky affair. And so Clinton survived. My point is that the I'm-getting-back-to-work ethos could save Sanford if his painful press conference didn't already. Interestingly, Sanford didn't stress getting back to work. He mostly stressed the healing that lay ahead. Clinton did that, too but in politician's fashion almost seemed to throw it off to a commission. He announced that he was going to be seeking pastoral counseling--psychiatry or psychology would have been too unsettling for the body politic--and let it go at that. Sanford would probably benefit from the same but with a pronounced emphasis on getting back to work. He shouldn't go to the john without leaving a forwarding number.

(As a side note, it's worth pointing out that Sanford called on Clinton to resign.)

I mentioned GIuliani as another pol who benefitted from this. John Podhoretz wrote to remind me that Rudy went from moving out of Gracie Mansion to battling cancer to abandonning his bid for the U.S. Senate against Hillary Clinton. True. But the sense that he was still a man of action helped preserve his viability for 2008. That and 9/11 24/7.

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Matthew Cooper is a managing editor (White House) for National Journal.

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