Mark Sanford’s Astute Analysis of the Cain Affair

Christian Heinze clips an interview with Sanford from Fox News. Once you get past the realization that Sanford would have been a Republican frontrunner but for his incredibly complex infidelity, you realize he’s totally right about this.

On the one side, you have to say: campaigns are very short-lived experiences. They’re quick and stuff is always coming over the transom. And in governance role, you can sit around and say “‘You know, I think I will help the ideas that I believe in by staying in,” but you’ve got some time. In a campaign, you don’t have that luxury of time. We’ve got less than a month, in essence, to Iowa.

Yep. My colleague Matt Yglesias has been thwacking this drum for years. He says the secret to surviving a sex scandal is 1) be an incumbent and 2) don’t resign. I’d amend this slightly: Be an incumbent with lots of self-interested support in your own party, and don’t resign. And I’d add a candidate’s amendment: Be a nominee, not just a candidate, and you can follow this playbook.

When the Cain story first broke (well, when the first permutation of it appeared in Politico), this was why I was bearish on the candidate’s chances. He was not Bill Clinton in 1992, the Democrat whom the party was betting everything on. He was not Clarence Thomas in 1991, who gave Republicans a shot at filling a Supreme Court seat with a conservative for 35, 40 years. He was one of several guys running to beat Barack Obama, and by no means the one who had the best chance of pulling it off. So there were and are lots of Republicans incentivized to mock him and bring him down. (See West, Allen.) At this point, Cain only serves Mitt Romney (or Ron Paul) and his crazy split-the-conservative vote plan. He’s an impediment to a Huntsman surge, or a Bachmann revival, or a day in the sun for Santorum. Down he goes.