Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Another holy man falls

“I hurt a lot of different folks,” Gov. Mark Sanford said during a news conference at the statehouse in Columbia, S.C.

Another holier-than-thou Republican right-winger falls. One amazing aspect is that a couple of months ago he was jousting with the President over stimulus funds. COuldn't this jerk realize he shoulda kept a low profile? Putz.

Mark Sanford, the governor of South Carolina, said he had conducted an extramarital affair with a woman in Argentina, ending a mystery over his weeklong disappearance that had infuriated lawmakers and seemed to put his rising political career in jeopardy. He apologized for the affair and the deception surrounding his trip in a rambling, nationally televised news conference Wednesday afternoon.

Seemed? What does he have a chance for now? School board? Not even that.

Governor Sanford, 49, admitted that he had been in Buenos Aires since Thursday, not hiking on the Appalachian Trail as his staff had told reporters. In revealing an affair that had gone on for about a year — and which he said he had disclosed to his wife, Jenny, five months ago — he said: “This was selfishness on my part.”

That's humble of him, to admit selfishness.

Mr. Sanford announced on Wednesday that as a result, he was resigning his position as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. The association soon after announced that Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour would become chairman.

Just as Senator Ensign did recently, when he admitted to an affair, and resigned from the Republican Senate campaign committee, Sanford, selfishly, did not resign as Governor (and, similarly selfishly, Ensign did not resign his Senate seat).

He pleaded with reporters not to pester his family: “I would ask for y’all’s indulgence, not for me, but for Jenny and the boys.” Jenny Sanford, 46, was not in attendance at the news conference. She issued a statement later in the day saying that while she loves her husband, she asked him to leave the family two weeks ago in a trial separation. “When I found out about my husband’s infidelity I worked immediately to first seek reconciliation through forgiveness, and then to work diligently to repair our marriage,” she said. “We reached a point where I felt it was important to look my sons in the eyes and maintain my dignity, self-respect, and my basic sense of right and wrong.” Because of the separation, she said, she did not know where he was in the last week.

No one seemed to know; that should help sink his career and ambitions.

In an interview with The State newspaper of Columbia, on Wednesday morning, Mr. Sanford said he had taken an unplanned trip to the South American country to recharge after a difficult legislative session in which he battled with lawmakers over accepting a portion of the federal stimulus funding. He had considered hiking the trail, he said. “But I said, no, I wanted to do something exotic,” Mr. Sanford told The State. “It’s a great city.” Only at the news conference did he reveal why he traveled there.

A great city? Well, perhaps so, but his choosing it seems, and should, perhaps, have seemed, well, curious.

The newspaper has this: Exclusive: Emails between Sanford, woman in Argentina

Mr. Sanford created a media frenzy on Monday when his staff acknowledged that they could not reach him. His wife told The Associated Press that he had gone somewhere over the Father’s Day weekend, but she did not know where and she was not concerned.

Only later did the governor reveal that he had told his wife and her parents several months earlier. He said that “in a formal sense,” he and his wife were not separated.

What does in damnation does that mean?

Mr. Sanford is the third sitting governor to become the central figure in a major scandal in recent years. Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer, Democrat of New York, resigned a few days after his involvement with prostitutes was revealed in March 2008. Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, Democrat of Illinois, clung to office for weeks after being accused by prosecutors of influence-peddling, including trying to sell the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama; he was impeached and removed from office by the state legislature on Jan. 29.

3 out of 50? 6% -- is that good, or bad?

A reporter tried to ask Mr. Sanford at the end of the news conference whether he would resign his office, but Mr. Sanford ignored the question.

Ignored it? Selfish, no?

Scott Huffmon, a political science professor at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., said it was unclear whether there would be pressure on the governor to resign. “His opponents are sitting back trying to figure out if they’d be better off with a completely emasculated governor to deal with or if they’d be better off with Andre Bauer,” said Mr. Huffmon, referring to the lieutenant governor who would take office if Mr. Sanford resigned.

Emasculated seems a particularly appropriate word in this context.

Whenever he talks political ideology he always comes out as the smartest guy in the room, but he hasn’t been a holier-than-thou moralist on social issues,” Mr. Huffmon said.

Good for him.

Mr. Sanford’s Democratic rivals in the capital immediately pounced on the apparent confusion in the statements issued by the governor’s office. “The people of this state deserve complete honesty from Governor Sanford,” said State Senator John C. Land III, the Senate Democratic leader, in a statement issued this morning before the news conference.

Complete honesty seems a dangerous term for a politician to use.

Mr. Sanford has long been known as an iconoclast. As a congressman, he slept on a futon in his office. To showcase his opposition to pork-barrel spending, he once brought two live piglets onto the floor of the state legislature.

The question that needs asking is if he slept alone on that futon (and, perhaps, if it was an Argentinian futon).

The admission by Mr. Sanford appeared to severely damage his chances for national political office. “I think you’ve got one less contender for president,” said Charles E. Cook Jr., editor of The Cook Political Report, adding that Mr. Sanford may be able to complete his term as governor, but could not expect to climb the ladder. “You don’t leave this behind — you really can’t.”

Appeared? I'd say.

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