Warning: This column is not about Michael Jackson

Thomas Gallick

The biggest story in the country should be the investigation into the affair and possible abuses of power committed by Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina. This proponent of moral values admitted to sexual encounters with an Argentinean woman whom he visited during political trips.

In the midst of the breaking story, however, carnival sideshow attraction Michael Jackson dies and the public forgets about Sanford. The media lets him off the hook in favor of 24-hour coverage of the King of Pop’s passing.

I think the whole process of the media forgetting about the Sanford affair in order to get bigger ratings is shameful, and I for one, will not let my column devolve into pointless discussion about Jackson just to get more page views or hits on Google. I just want to encourage informed political discussion about a major scandal.

Let’s start from the beginning just in case some people out there have been so inundated with Jacko-coverage they forgot the basics of the Sanford affair.

For about a week, Sanford disappeared without so much as informing the lieutenant governor where he was going – something his critics called bad and dangerous. He was in Argentina trying to break off his affair with his mistress.

Now some of you may want to know the details – whether he rocked with her, all night, and danced her into the sunlight. I say just leave him alone.

We all could go look at the steamy, leaked e-mails between the two wherein the governor admits to the way she makes him feel. You could go look through those e-mails, but I’ll just sum it up politely for you by saying she knocked him off his feet.

We’re talking about the details of a man’s private life, not some cheesy romance novel or sordid thriller you could find at the supermarket checkout counter. The real question is whether he abused his power as governor or otherwise adversely affected the state.

Wags in the media will inevitably say, “typical republican hypocrite who preaches family values and goes off with the latest pretty young thing.” But adultery is common in politics on both sides of the aisle.

Do you remember the time Bill Clinton had an inappropriate relationship with Monica Lewinsky or when Larry Craig moonwalked across a men’s room floor looking for love? I guess what I’m trying to say is, Gov. Sanford, you are not alone.

Now some in the press are implying that Sanford used the perks of his office to visit his mistress on the taxpayer’s dime, while others say he was not acting unethically. Such confusion makes me want to scream.

If Sanford is cleared of charges of abusing the office of governor, I think he’ll still have to take a good look at the man in the mirror. And maybe we scandal-hungry wonks should, too.

Maybe, just maybe, if we try to understand Sanford’s actions and the basic frailties and faults we all have as human beings, we can heal the world a little.

And for those of you still hoping for more Michael Jackson coverage instead of serious political discourse, I have two words for you: Beat it.

If we in the media continue with pointless references to Jackson and other cheap tricks to attract readers and viewers, all might truly be lost. Maybe the rest of the media can still feast like carrion on the corpse of the deceased superstar, but count this columnist out.

Billie Jean.

Thomas Gallick is a senior journalism major and columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].