Mark Sanford's liberal use of religious rhetoric in confessing his affair prompts Gustav Niebuhr to observe that whether Sanford is pandering or actually penitent, he is very much in the tradition of Southern politicians caught in scandal. Bill Clinton, David Vitter, and John Edwards all applied an ample dose of "God-talk," which connects with Southern constituents, he notes in the Washington Post. Conversely, you didn't hear any, if memory serves, mention of the supreme being in the mouth of Eliot Spitzer or Jim McGreevey as they stepped down.
Meanwhile Rabbi Shmuley Boteach observes in the New York Times the irony that it was not the Christian but the Jewish view of righteousness that Sanford invoked to cushion his fall, in which “individual choice” is key. He sees conservative Christians as in a bind: While Christians believe everyone’s a sinner but can still be saved by Jesus, conservatives are ferocious believers in personal accountability. “A savior may get him into heaven. But only personal accountability will keep him in the statehouse.”