Mark Sanford’s Excellent Adventure [Make That ‘Affair’]
When news broke Monday afternoon that South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford went off the grid the previous Thursday and that neither his wife nor his staff knew where they were, I was interested but not particularly motivated to write about it. It was essentially a gossip story that would have been purely speculative and there was the chance that something tragic had happened and I’d have felt like a real jerk for wisecracking about it.
Soon, the story evolved into Sanford’s having gone off to hike the Appalachian Trail with some weird, unsourced rumors that he was doing so bereft of clothing. I continued largely ignoring the story.
Well, now that he is back on the grid — purportedly after a solo trip to the densely urban Buenos Aires for an exotic drive down the coastline — and has announced a press conference for this afternoon, I’m compelled to write something.
I’ve seen suggestions on Twitter and elsewhere that this is a liberal mainstream media hounding a conservative Republican widely considered a viable contender for the 2012 presidential nomination. Sorry, folks: This is real news.
I share Annie Lowrey‘s assessment that the story is “bizarre” and that Sanford’s actions were “so vastly irresponsible — not just weird, but irresponsible — for a major public official to do that, in my mind, it disqualifies him for the job.” I also echo Steven Taylor‘s judgment that “I have no problem if a governor or other public official wants a vacation. If his family is okay with the notion of him going off by himself without contact, that’s their business, although I personally find that odd. However, if one holds an office of public trust, especially a chief executive position, then one should make arrangements for one’s absence, even if it is done in a way as to avoid media attention. To do otherwise strikes me as irresponsible.”
“Bizarre. Weird. Irresponsible.” That’s not exactly an ideal campaign slogan.
UPDATE: Ugh. It gets much worse: Add “Adulterer” to the tagline.
Gov. Mark Sanford says he is publicly apologizing for letting down South Carolinians after admitting he was having an affair during a press conference at the statehouse in Columbia Wednesday. Apologizing to his wife, sons and all of South Carolina, Sanford says he has engaged in a relationship with a “dear friend” from Argentina.
Sanford confessed the relationship between him and the unidentified woman began very innocently through emails, and says over the past year developed into much more than a simple friendship. Since the development of the relationship, Sanford says he has seen the woman three times.
“I hurt you all, I hurt my wife, I hurt my boys,” said Sanford, with tears in his eyes. “All I can say is ‘I apologize.'”
Sanford says his family has been struggling with his unfaithfulness for the last five months, noting his wife, Jenny Sanford, and sons knew about his trip to Argentina before he left the country. “I’ve spent the last five days crying in Argentina,” said Sanford. Despite his unfaithfulness, Sanford stands by his relationship with his wife, saying they are not “formally separate,” but are rather trying to “work through something.”
Sanford also noted during the Wednesday’s press conference he will be stepping down as the chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association.
John Hawkins offers the unsolicited advice that he might as well step down as governor while he’s at it. He adds, “Sanford was a rising star in the Republican party and it was really sad to see him throw away his promising political career this way.”
Indeed. I’d add: At least we’re finding out now rather than in the midst of the presidential race.