Should Mark Sanford resign?

Tom Schaller says no:

Is Sanford a cad for bolting his family on Father’s Day weekend? Of course, but that is a private, moral failing, rather than a failure of public duty. . . .


I [Schaller] oppose most of what Mr. Sanford stands for politically. His showy rejection of federal stimulus money targeted for his state was a crass publicity stunt designed to garner national attention for Mr. Sanford at the expense of his constituents, many of whom are struggling economically. . . . Should Mr. Sanford’s ambitions founder on the shoals of a personal scandal, however, yet another opportunity will be lost to establish the long-overdue separation between private comportment and public service. So here’s hoping he doesn’t resign or, if he does, it is a matter of personal choice rather than him bowing to political pressure.

I see where Schaller is coming from. Lots of people have complicated personal lives, and it’s not clear at all that these difficulties have much if anything to do with governing. But I don’t know if I agree with him on the wall of separation between private comportment and public service.

Consider the Sanford case. Schaller’s a Democrat, so he can evaluate Sanford on his policies. But if Schaller were a Republican, he might very well want Sanford out of there because he tarnishes the brand, makes the party a laughingstock, etc. Also makes it harder for Sanford to convincingly follow a “family values” agenda which Schaller (if he were a Republican) might want. These are legitimate concerns for a Republican to have. Even if you don’t think Sanford’s personal indiscretions are important, you might want him gone and replaced by a more effective Republican. Just as, from the other direction, a Democrat would’ve preferred a zipped-fly version of Bill Clinton.

But the first thing I noticed in Schaller’s otherwise excellent post were the ugly pie charts. Boy are they ugly. Damn! Some quick points: – The wedges aren’t labeled directly. Instead, the reader has to go back and forth, back and forth, between the chart and the legend. – The color schemes are a mess. The top graph goes from blue to purple to yellow to green?? – The responses are ordered, and the pie obscures this by being circular. For example, in the top graph, the natural order is More, Same, Less (with Don’t Know as a separate category); in the second graph, Yes, Not Sure, No. – The goofy orientation of the second graph makes it hard to see that the blue area (“Yes”) is larger than the red area (“No”). – On the plus side, the charts are reasonably sided (not too large, not too small), have clear titles, are unambiguously labeled, and are not tilted or 3-D (thus, areas actually do represent proportions).

These aren’t hard-and-fast rules. The real point is that it’s hard for me to just look at the pie charts and see what’s going on. There are too many colors, legends, numbers, etc., floating around. When all is said and done, I guess the charts aren’t horrible, but they’re the graphical equivalent of meandering, hard-to-follow paragraphs.

2 Responses to Should Mark Sanford resign?

  1. M July 1, 2009 at 10:52 am #

    Sanford should resign. Not because he cheated on his wife, but because he was out of contact. What if there had been a hurricane? A tornado? A terrorist attack? Governors sign up for public service and no matter how badly they may need to get out of the bubble, or to see their mistress, they have to be reachable at all times. Thems the breaks.

  2. Charles Barrilleaux July 5, 2009 at 4:18 pm #

    Tom could be a Democrat AND want a “family values” agenda. Or so my neighbor who has a “I am a Democrat and I vote Pro Life” bumper sticker on her van seems to suggest. But maybe the South is different.