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You know things are bad when Mark Sanford is the voice of reason.

Yes, that Mark Sanford. The congressman from South Carolina. The ex-Governor who gave new meaning to “hiking the Appalachian Trail.”

Sanford is back on stage as one of few Republicans unafraid to criticize Trump. He speaks out in a fascinating Politico article by Tim Alberta (“’I’m a Dead Man Walking’: Mark Sanford has nothing left to lose. And he’s here to haunt Donald Trump.”)

Alberta writes:

“Most Republicans in Washington are biting their tongues when it comes to Donald Trump, fearful that any candid criticisms of the new president could invite a backlash from their constituents or, potentially worse, provoke retribution from the commander in chief himself.

“Mark Sanford is not like most Republicans in Washington….

“His digs at Trump cover the spectrum. The president, Sanford says, ‘has fanned the flames of intolerance.’ He has repeatedly misled the public, most recently about the national murder rate and the media’s coverage of terrorist attacks. He showed a lack of humility by using the National Prayer Breakfast to ridicule Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ratings on ‘The Celebrity Apprentice.’ Most worrisome, Sanford says, Trump is unprepared for the presidency….”

Alberta goes on:

“I ask Sanford, in our early February interview, whether it’s fair to say Trump doesn’t impress him. ‘Yeah, that’s accurate,’ he tells me. ‘Because at some level he represents the antithesis, or the undoing, of everything I thought I knew about politics, preparation and life.’

“Sanford, an Eagle Scout, has long been renowned for a work ethic that straddles the line between tireless and maniacal. Famously brutal on staff members—his former speechwriter wrote a book documenting his workplace misery—Sanford recalls holding marathon meetings as a congressman and as governor to review every intricate detail of budgets, bills and other proposals that came across his desk.

“’And all of a sudden a guy comes along where facts don’t matter?’ Sanford asks aloud. ‘It’s somewhat befuddling. It’s the undoing of that which you base a large part of your life on….’

“’You want to give anybody the benefit of the doubt. I mean, I’ve learned that through my own trials and tribulations,’ Sanford says, one of numerous nods to the Appalachian Trail episode. ‘But if you see a pattern of over and over and over again, wherein facts don’t matter and you can just make up anything…’ He stops himself. ‘Our republic was based on reason. The Founding Fathers were wed to this notion of reason. It was a reason-based system. And if you go to a point wherein it doesn’t matter, I mean, that has huge implications in terms of where we go next as a society….’”

This sometimes happens to politicians who suffer a humbling defeat or a humiliating fall. They dare to speak the truth.

 

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