ABC's Sam Donaldson appeared on Thursday's Good Morning America to talk about the developing Mark Sanford scandal and loudly assert that it's hard to forgive Bible-thumping Republicans for their sexual transgressions. He began by deriding, "The problem Republicans have, so many of them are sanctimonious." [audio available here]
The longtime contributor continued his attack on members of the GOP who get caught up in sex scandals: "They thump the Bible. They condemn everyone else, and when they- human- they don’t have much credit in the bank for forgiveness."
Donaldson, who appeared with fellow ABC contributor Cokie Roberts, did make an interesting point about Good Morning America's saturation coverage of the revelation of the South Carolina governor's affair with an Argentinean woman. Apparently speaking of the media, he said that "we all seem to be enjoying this." Donaldson added, "This is the fourth segment on Good Morning America and I'm not criticizing you because it's the story of the day." Actually, GMA devoted six full reports and one anchor brief to the scandal.
A transcript of the June 25 segment, which aired at 7:41am, follows:
ROBIN ROBERTS: And are these public confessions enough to save a marriage and/or a political career? Well, joining us to talk about that from Washington, ABC's Cokie Roberts and Sam Donaldson. Great to see you both this morning. David's piece, you saw, no shortage of politicians from both sides of the aisle, making these public apologies, but George Stephanopoulos was saying earlier, Sam, that it was different yesterday. There was something different about the governor's press conference yesterday. Do you agree?
SAM DONALDSON: I agree. Sanford chose the Reverend Jimmy Swaggart way of apologizing. The Reverend Swaggart was caught years ago, lamentations, tears, throwing his arms around. I think it's best to use the John Ensign way. You come out. You have a brief statement, business-like. You admit you're the scum of the earth. You apologize to your wife and everyone, you ask for redemption and forgiveness. You leave. You take no questions and give no further interviews.
ROBIN ROBERTS: Cokie, I hear you-
COKIE ROBERTS: I think that the minute- It doesn't much matter. Mark Sanford's press conference was bizarre, to put it mildly. But the E-mails that have been released will just sink him. You know, even Shakespeare's love sonnets weren't so great. And Mark Sanford's love notes and his e-mails are just laughable. You know, I'm not going to quote them because I'd be embarrassed. But the fact is, he just is a laughing stock today.
ROBIN ROBERTS: He did go on and on, as Sam said, and he took questions, and all that. Is it enough to save his career?
COKIE ROBERTS: He did.
DONALDSON: No. He's a cooked goose. I mean, there are calls for his resignation. I don't know if he's going to resign or not. But the fact that he's done this, and he's done it in the way he's done it, I don't see how he could run for President. People were touting him. You know, there’s another way, Robin, if you're lucky enough. Client number nine, Eliot Spitzer, you showed him. Once that happened. And David Paterson became Governor of New York, he immediately held a news conference to announce he’d had a number of affairs No one paid any attention. We were all concentrating on Eliot Spitzer.
COKIE ROBERTS: At least, Robin, though, we did not have the sight of Mrs. Sanford standing behind him. You know, that's the thing that always kills me, those long-suffering, political wives. Always wearing pearls, always. Standing behind their men. And often saving their political careers. This time, Mrs. Sanford basically said, "I asked him to leave."
ROBIN ROBERTS: Yeah. She did. She did release a statement. She was not with him yesterday at the press conference. She released a statement saying, that they had separated two weeks ago. And part of the statement said, quote, "I felt it was important to look my sons in the eyes and maintain my dignity." But she went on to say that she believes that her husband has earned a chance to resurrect their marriage. So- difficult. We're talking about someone's marriage. We're talking about someone's career. And she was very involved in his career, as a campaign manager, as well, Cokie.
COKIE ROBERTS: Absolutely. Absolutely.
DONALDSON: If they can save their marriage, that's great. That's an individual thing. But saving his political career, I think that's just not going to happen. There's another thing, Robin and Cokie, we all seem to be enjoying this. No, no, we can't admit that. But you have- this is the fourth segment on Good Morning America" and I'm not criticizing you because it's the story of the day.
COKIE ROBERTS: Of course, the part that I'm enjoying, Sam, is the fact that it just shows how hopeless men are. I mean, it is just-
DONALDSON: Aww, Cokie.
COKIE ROBERTS: -pathetic. All of those incidents you cited, you noticed, were not about women.
DONALDSON: Well, you notice that we men have more testosterone, I suppose, than you do. And I think Republicans and Democrats have it equally. The problem Republicans have, so many of them are sanctimonious. They thump the Bible. They condemn everyone else, and when they- human- they don’t have much credit in the bank for forgiveness.
ROBIN ROBERTS: You both are loaded for bear this morning. I’m telling you what. A final question. This has happened repeatedly. And it has happened with both Democrats and Republicans. But it seems that Democrats have had a harder time holding on to their jobs, once this happens. Why do you think that is?
DONALDSON: I know the past. And the past, with Wilbur Mills, Fanne Foxe, the Argentinean stripper in the Tidal Basin, Wayne Hays, an Ohio congressman, Democrat. His secretary says "I can't type. And I can't take short hand. But my services to the congressman are of a different nature." So, I think it's equal.
COKIE ROBERTS: I think it's the individual case of what happens. And Democrats, lately, have had more of a problem. But, you know, Senator Ensign has not run again. So, we don't know what's going to happen with him. Governor Sanford was already in political trouble before he got to this point. And now, he's going to be in even – well, he's over. So, I think it's individual.
ROBIN ROBERTS: Always a joy, Sam and Cokie, to talk to you both. Especially together. You all have a great day. Thanks so much for joining us.