Well it didn’t take long.  The State of Massachusetts has filed an action to void the federal statute called the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  It seems that, under DOMA the State would be required to treated married same sex couples differently in terms of federally funded programs than it would treat opposite sex married couples.  Who’da thunk!

One of the problems with a federal system is the ongoing conflict between state law and federal law and this is now presented full frontal!  So either states get to prescribe who is married or the feds do.  I’ll bet the Federalist Society is burning the midnight oil on this one.  We’ll keep you posted.

As a resident of Nevada, I can empathize with South Carolinians on the maelstrom visited upon them by the media in the wake of their Governor’s ongoing disclosures.  While the nature of Governor Sanford’s infidelities is at best roughly analogous to Senator Ensign’s, the view from voter’s perspective tends to blur the distinctions between them and between those incidents and the recent Democratic embarrassments of Governors Spitzer and Blagojevich.  And of course, one’s own party allegiances and left/right leanings come into play in parsing any differences.

My own take on these affairs (no pun intended) is that there are two wholly divergent perspectives from which to view assess them.  One can sit back, pretend one has no vices and judge the participants from the point of view of the degree of imperfection demonstrated, reach a conclusion as to their fitness for ongoing public service in general and in their current elective office in specific, and then call forth the action dictated by those conclusions.  Alternatively, one can assess the circumstances from a strictly political perspective and judge not how the behavior weighs upon fitness for office but rather measure the likely impact on the actor’s political position, ability to impact on policy and his role as a leader within the political environment associated with his office.  Under the latter rubric, in assessing the politics of all this, one has to view not only the impact of the behaviors in question on the electorate as a whole but also on the electorate within the actor’s own party and  as well as the effect on the broader electorate’s view of the actor’s party in addition to the actor.  On a personal note, I like the line, “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”.  I will not be casting any stones, let alone the first.  I offer my views only the political perspective.

As to the two Democratic governors, I note two distinctions:  both were the target of possible criminal proceedings and both were quickly out of office.  While one resigned and the other removed, both departures could not have been accomplished without the active participation of the respective state party machinery moving to assure its long term survival by cleansing itself of the offending governor.  In both state democratic parties, the risk associated with offending those that had voted for the governor appears to have been outweighed by the need to be seen as decisive in pressing for the removal of the cancer before any possibility of it metastasizing on other party candidates in upcoming elections.  In the esoteric environment of polls and non-elective politics, the two state parties appear to have taken the correct step.

On the other hand, the Nevada and New York Republicans do not appear to have reached the same conclusions.  As noted above, neither Ensign nor Sanford are currently charged with illegalities so the severity of the scandal can be said to be more moderate.  But one cannot ignore the political leanings of the two Republicans on ‘moral’ issues.  Both have been outspoken critics of other elected officials whose infidelities have become grist for the publicity mill and both were active in the efforts to have an unfaithful president removed from office.  (I will accede to the point that those efforts will in part predicated on the allegations of perjury not just on the underlying infidelity but note that both Governor’s lied in their efforts to avoid detection albeit not in a perjury context.)  An interesting side note is that both Republicans were included on most short lists for the Republican presidential nomination for 2012. 

While I suspect that somewhere someone is doing extensive polling on the precise nature of how various demographic groups are viewing the various storylines, the blogosphere shows its own sets of reactions that are telling.  My own unscientific review of bloggers views is that Republican and right leaning bloggers do not appear to be bothered by the apparent hypocrisy of the Republican Governors’ condemnations of  others juxtaposed to their own infidelity and cover-up, and they are quick to emphasize the apparent criminality associated with the Democrats’ scandals.  On the other hand, Democratic bloggers seem greatly offended by the apparent hypocrisy of the Republicans  but are not overly vocal in their calls for resignation.  Could it be that Democrats are taking the longer view on how all this will play out in 2010 and 2012? 

Blogosphere and polls aside, the real issue, in my view,  is the impact of all this on  the “silent majority” of Republican voters and what they actually think of all this.  Are they forgiving of their leaders?  Will the failure to cleanse their party shift some of those on the left fringes of the right, the so-called Reagan Democrats,  back to the Democratic Party?  Will the abilities and politics of Ensign and Sanford enable them to restore their own images sufficient to limit any spillover on other Republican candidates in 2010?  Will the far right/party base lose its enthusiasm as contributors and grass root supporters in sufficient quantities to deepen the Republican slide that started in 2006?  Will it turn out that the “11th Commandment”, in stopping Republicans from taking the actions that the Democrats took with Spitzer and Blagojevich turn out to be the metastatic force that the Democrats appear to have avoided?

No one can assert that the Republican Party is as strong as it would like to be is most states (South Carolina could be an exception) or on the national scene.  These two June disclosures obviously don’t help 

As a resident of Nevada, I can empathize with South Carolinians on the maelstrom visited upon them by the media in the wake of their Governor’s ongoing disclosures.  While the nature of Governor Sanford’s infidelities is at best roughly analogous to Senator Ensign’s, the view from voter’s perspective tends to blur the distinctions between them and between those incidents and the recent Democratic embarrassments of Governors Spitzer and Blagojevich.  And of course, one’s own party allegiances and left/right leanings come into play in parsing any differences.

My own take on these affairs (no pun intended) is that there are two wholly divergent perspectives from which to view assess them.  One can sit back, pretend one has no vices and judge the participants from the point of view of the degree of imperfection demonstrated, reach a conclusion as to their fitness for ongoing public service in general and in their current elective office in specific, and then call forth the action dictated by those conclusions.  Alternatively, one can assess the circumstances from a strictly political perspective and judge not how the behavior weighs upon fitness for office but rather measure the likely impact on the actor’s political position, ability to impact on policy and his role as a leader within the political environment associated with his office.  Under the latter rubric, in assessing the politics of all this, one has to view not only the impact of the behaviors in question on the electorate as a whole but also on the electorate within the actor’s own party and  as well as the effect on the broader electorate’s view of the actor’s party in addition to the actor.  On a personal note, I like the line, “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”.  I will not be casting any stones, let alone the first.  I offer my views only the political perspective.

As to the two Democratic governors, I note two distinctions:  both were the target of possible criminal proceedings and both were quickly out of office.  While one resigned and the other removed, both departures could not have been accomplished without the active participation of the respective state party machinery moving to assure its long term survival by cleansing itself of the offending governor.  In both state democratic parties, the risk associated with offending those that had voted for the governor appears to have been outweighed by the need to be seen as decisive in pressing for the removal of the cancer before any possibility of it metastasizing on other party candidates in upcoming elections.  In the esoteric environment of polls and non-elective politics, the two state parties appear to have taken the correct step.

On the other hand, the Nevada and New York Republicans do not appear to have reached the same conclusions.  As noted above, neither Ensign nor Sanford are currently charged with illegalities so the severity of the scandal can be said to be more moderate.  But one cannot ignore the political leanings of the two Republicans on ‘moral’ issues.  Both have been outspoken critics of other elected officials whose infidelities have become grist for the publicity mill and both were active in the efforts to have an unfaithful president removed from office.  (I will accede to the point that those efforts will in part predicated on the allegations of perjury not just on the underlying infidelity but note that both Governor’s lied in their efforts to avoid detection albeit not in a perjury context.)  An interesting side note is that both Republicans were included on most short lists for the Republican presidential nomination for 2012. 

While I suspect that somewhere someone is doing extensive polling on the precise nature of how various demographic groups are viewing the various storylines, the blogosphere shows its own sets of reactions that are telling.  My own unscientific review of bloggers views is that Republican and right leaning bloggers do not appear to be bothered by the apparent hypocrisy of the Republican Governors’ condemnations of  others juxtaposed to their own infidelity and cover-up, and they are quick to emphasize the apparent criminality associated with the Democrats’ scandals.  On the other hand, Democratic bloggers seem greatly offended by the apparent hypocrisy of the Republicans  but are not overly vocal in their calls for resignation.  Could it be that Democrats are taking the longer view on how all this will play out in 2010 and 2012? 

Blogosphere and polls aside, the real issue, in my view,  is the impact of all this on  the “silent majority” of Republican voters and what they actually think of all this.  Are they forgiving of their leaders?  Will the failure to cleanse their party shift some of those on the left fringes of the right, the so-called Reagan Democrats,  back to the Democratic Party?  Will the abilities and politics of Ensign and Sanford enable them to restore their own images sufficient to limit any spillover on other Republican candidates in 2010?  Will the far right/party base lose its enthusiasm as contributors and grass root supporters in sufficient quantities to deepen the Republican slide that started in 2006?  Will it turn out that the “11th Commandment”, in stopping Republicans from taking the actions that the Democrats took with Spitzer and Blagojevich turn out to be the metastatic force that the Democrats appear to have avoided?

No one can assert that the Republican Party is as strong as it would like to be is most states (South Carolina could be an exception) or on the national scene.  These two June disclosures obviously don’t help