How the GOP Will Spin Mark Sanford’s Affair (Against the Democrats)

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There are many, many ways that political affairs come to light. Spitzer. Vitter. Paterson. Edwards. And now, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford. We’ve discussed the (obvious) ethical issues brought up by cheating on your spouse. But with the GOP in full talking point force, it was only a matter of time before “architect” Karl Rove piped up after Sanford revealed his true family values. And by matter of time, we mean: hours.

A guest on Hannity last night, Rove is the ultimate kingpin of spin. His tales are not remarkable for being tall; they are remarkable for being believable. Responsible for issuing talking points to his fellow Republicans, Rove made clear how the GOP will recover from Sanford’s shaming. It’s (at least) a two-parter.

1) Denigrate Sanford. While some (liberal) talking heads branded Sanford as a “raising star” in the GOP and a name often tossed around as a possible presidential candidate for 2012, Rove is shutting that down. Mustering all the surprise he can, Rove insists Sanford was never a real contender for the top ticket, given all the other more promising Southern conservatives available. By branding Sanford as a minimal Republican creature, Sanford’s affair becomes that much less important to GOP politicking. Read: Why should you care when even we don’t care?

2) Make sure everyone knows Sanford’s transgressions are not unique — especially to the GOP. Rove spits out a brief list of politicos involved in sex scandals, from Republican Louisiana Sen. David Vitter (he of 2007’s D.C. madame prostitution scandal) to Democratic Rep. Barney Frank (he of the “paid $80 to a hooker who ended up seeing other clients in my basement” scandal from the 80s). By reminding Americans that Sanford, while committing wrongdoing, is not alone in his sex scandal, Rove neutralizes Sanford’s criticism by prohibiting liberals from jumping down his pants.

And that’s just the strategy Rove is revealing publicly.