If Sanford succeeds, he'll join a long list of men who've resurrected their political careers after highly publicized (most often extramarital and usually not illegal) missteps.
To name just a few of the most prominent: There are former President Clinton (survived an affair with an intern and impeachment proceedings; is now about to receive a "father of the year" award, with approval ratings at an all-time high of 69 percent); Sen. David Vitter (R) of Louisiana (won reelection handily after overcoming a prostitution scandal); former Rep. Barney Frank (D) of Massachusetts (held a long and distinguished career in the House after it was revealed his gay lover was running an escort ring out of his house; is now a leading contender to fill an interim Senate post in Massachusetts); and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (was a presidential hopeful in 2012 – and won the South Carolina primary – after he'd left the House admitting to infidelity and having been formally disciplined on ethics charges).
It was even reported this week that former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D) of New York (who resigned after it was revealed he'd been sending risqué pictures of himself via Twitter to women who were not his wife) has reserved the domain name AnthonyWeiner2013.com and continues to maintain office space in New York City for a possible mayoral campaign. So far, however, Mr. Weiner has not indicated any intention to run.
We confess, we're not entirely sure what to make of this phenomenon. Much has been written over the years about how the American people are unusually forgiving and, indeed, often seem to root for "second chances." Others have pointed out that, in this age of 24/7 news, the spotlight's glare can be intense and cruel when a scandal breaks, but it also moves on quickly – and the public can have a relatively short memory.