Jeff Pearlman

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Mark Sanford: Charles Barkley’s inspiration

charles-barkley-1-3224sanford

When Charles Barkley was arrested two months back for DUI, my first reaction was, “Any hopes this guy has of running for governor of Alabama in 2014 are dead.”

I stand corrected.

In case you missed it, yesterday afternoon Mark Sanford, the governor of South Carolina and a man Rush Limbaugh considered to be “our JFK” admitted that he had been engaged in an affair with an Argentinian mistress. At the same time many were led to believe the governor had spent last weekend—Father’s Day weekend!—hiking on the Appalachian Trail, he was actually overseas, with his honey bear. His wife and four sons? Home in South Carolina.

Personally, I don’t care whether elected officials cheat on their wives, their kids, they dogs, their elks. But if you’re gonna cheat, don’t be a self-righteous, marriage-is-the-bedrock-of-society morality spewer like Sanford and John Ensign, the Nevada senator who, it turns out, was also gettin’ fr-fr-freaky.

So why does this help Sir Charles?

When Barkley runs—if Barkley runs—he will inevitably lay all the cards on the table. “Yes, I spit on a 13-year-old girl and threw a dude through a glass window. Yes, I’ve slept with many women and I drove drunk and I gambled and gambled and gambled. Yeah, I’ve lined a so-called sinful life. But guess what? I’m human. This is what humans do. We make mistakes, we hurt people, we lack temporary judgment. What I can tell you—promise you—is that I will never, ever spew any of the moralistic bulls%$t—that you’ve come to expect from your leaders. That era is over. I’m as imperfect as anyone else, and here are my scars. Come take a look.”

Perhaps I’m wrong. But I think people are tired of this morality play; of the commercials featuring an aspiring office holder catching butterflies on a beautiful spring day with the wife and kiddies; of hearing about so-and-so going to church every Sunday and believing in Jesus with all his heart. Thanks to Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich and Larry Craig and John Edwards and Jesse Jackson and Gary Hart and Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson and Sanford, we’ve learned, well, what we already knew.

We all screw up.

It’s human.

  • robert

    Or John Edwards or Barney Frank or Jesse Jackson or JFK or Gary Hart or Eliot Spitzer or Charlie Rangel or Patrick Kennedy or Ted Kennedy or David Paterson or Bill Richardson or Alcee Hastings or Bill Jefferson or John Murtha or David Wu or Jon Corzine or Gavin Newsom, etc. etc.
    All these guys preach morality at one level or another and all infest the gov with hypocrisy and corruption. ALL should be held to high standards, this isn’t a partisan problem Jeff, even if you wish it were.

  • Ted Mark

    Absolutely no doubt democrats are guilty of the same indiscretions and corruptions as republicans, as Jeff has written in today’s posting. But the republicans preach morality at the utmost level, making it the cornerstone of their party. THEY are the righteous, above all others. Consequently their hypocrisy is so much more transparent when they fall from grace.

  • Halley Durst

    he is a god!!!!! love ya barkley!!

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life