After a week in which no one seemed to know his whereabouts, South Carolina Republican Governor Mark Sanford gave an emotional press conference today in which he admitted having an affair and spending the last several days in Argentina (Hot Air’s got the video). Questions and speculation had arisen when the Governor had fallen out of contact for six days, and while it initially seemed like a ginned-up non-story about a governor taking an unannounced vacation, Sanford’s true location and the reason for his absence vault the events into shameful tragedy.
Cheating on his wife and fleeing the country make Sanford a disgrace to his office (though Michelle Malkin has another name for him), and I have no doubt that one way or another, he’ll be gone from the Governor’s mansion before his term is up. As the chief executive of a state, you can’t just leave the country whenever you feel like it, no matter what your personal circumstances. My heart goes out to his wife and family, who have to bear the shame of a family disgrace like this being aired in public. There’s no doubt that Gov. Sanford has a long road of potentially hard-won forgiveness ahead of him, if it comes his way at all.
It’s sad to see yet another family catastrophe take place in the public arena, but for those who might descry partisan implications from this bizarre episode, remember that Eliot Spitzer, Bill Clinton, Gary Condit, John McCain, and so many others show us that infidelity and marital strife are unfortunately some of the few truly bipartisan areas of overlap. For every one of the cheaters like Mark Sanford, there are still a lot folks in the public arena who, whatever you might think of their politics, do indeed value their spouses and children.
Sanford had been on many people’s short list for Republican Presidential nominee in 2012 – this almost certainly ends that pipe dream as he now becomes someone who had the potential to be a rising conservative star and ends up being a moral and ethical disappointment. Sanford will undoubtedly be the butt of many jokes over the coming weeks (including one from John Kerry that tries to get a jab in at Sarah Palin as well), and he quite frankly deserves everything he has coming to him. The South Carolina governor might have had a bright political future ahead of him, but his own failure of conscience has ruined whatever aspirations he might have had. He’s shown that no one is above the failings and temptations that bedevil the human condition, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t bear blame for acting on them. In any event, I suspect South Carolina will be fine with or without him.