Sanford’s setback, Sanford’s silliness

SANFORD’S SETBACK, SANFORD’S SILLINESS…. When South Carolina’s far-right Republican governor, Mark Sanford, first starting making noises about rejecting federal stimulus funds, it seemed likely he was playing a little partisan game. He’d impress right-wing activists — the types who help drive presidential primaries, for example — but accept the money anyway, saying his hands were tied.

If Sanford is just going through the motions, however, he’s working hard on selling it. In his latest move, the governor asked the administration for a waiver, so he could direct $700 million of stimulus aid away from education and health care and towards the state’s long-term debts. OMB Director Peter Orszag declined the request yesterday.

Sanford responded by saying he would continue to find new ways to oppose economic recovery efforts in his state.

To help capture just how incredibly foolish Sanford is acting, South Carolina’s largest newspaper, The State, had a helpful editorial the other day, describing the governor’s ideas as “bankrupt.”

When you’re starving and someone offers to buy you lunch, you don’t say, “I only want your money if I can put it into my 401(k).” But that’s essentially what Mr. Sanford wants to do. […]

We’ll start with the claim that using federal stimulus funds will dig the state deeper into debt. That simply is not true. Now, if the state were using federal funds to expand or create new programs, he would have a point, because if the economy hasn’t recovered by the time the money runs out, we will have to either raise taxes or cut those programs. But the money is being used to sustain programs that we already have — or, at most, restart programs that were cut back in the past few months. That is, to delay cutting programs that otherwise would be cut now. Sort of the way that lunch delays the moment you die of starvation; you hope it will buy you time to find a job. We hope the federal funds will buy us time for the economy to start recovering.

It’s almost as if Sanford has something against South Carolinians. One wonders what they did to offend him.

For what it’s worth, the DNC has launched its first ads since November, and they’re targeting Sanford’s bizarre recklessness. The governor called on the White House yesterday to pull the DNC’s ad from the air, saying it stands in the way of “a productive dialogue on the merits” of Sanford’s ideas.

What “merits”?