GOP infidelity month: Gov. Mark Sanford

Mark Sanford.jpgFrom the “Department of What Was He Thinking?!” here comes South Carolina’s Republican governor and a GOP hopeful for president, admitting that his five-day off-the-radar escapade was to visit his Argentine lover–not to hike the Appalachian Trail, as aides said. Unbelievable. Or, well, all-too-believable in the world of right-wing, Bible-thumping, family values Republican politics these days. (viz. Sen. John Ensign, e.g.)

From the NYT:


COLUMBIA, S.C. — Mark Sanford, the governor of South Carolina, said he had conducted an extra-marital affair with a woman in Argentina, ending a mystery over his week-long 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.

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.”

Mr. Sanford announced on Wednesday that as a result, he was resigning his position as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. His second — and final — term leading the state of South Carolina ends in 2011.

It took him more than a few stumbling minutes to get to the crux of the matter.

“The bottom line is this,” he said. “I have been unfaithful to my wife.

“I developed a relationship with what started as a dear dear friend from Argentina,” Gov. Sanford said. “It began very innocently, as I suspect these things do, in just a casual e-mail back and forth. But here, recently, over this last year, developed into something much more than that. And as a consequence, I hurt her. I hurt you all, I hurt my wife. I hurt my boys. I hurt friends like Tom Davis. I hurt a lot of different folks.”


Surrounded by more than 50 reporters, photographers, aides and spectators in the rotunda of the South Carolina statehouse, the governor spoke with a quiver in his voice and was visibly shaken, tearing up at times and rocking on his feet at the podium. 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 and the boys were not there. Three of his sons are teenagers, and his youngest is 10 years old. And he was out of touch over Father’s Day. Sounds awful. At least Wilbur Mills didn’t travel so far to embarass himself with an “Argentine Firecracker.”


Chris Cillizza at the WaPo analyzes the fallout in The Fix:

• Sanford was clearly unprepared for the media swarm he faced. He began shakily with a riff about his time spent hiking the Appalachian Trail before rolling off a long litany of people to whom he needed to apologize. Sanford, usually an extremely confident public orator, stumbled over his words time and time again and continued to take questions well after he had promised a “last question.” (In Sanford’s defense, it’s hard to imagine anyone would be prepared to make such an announcement.)


• This is not the end of the story. The problem for Sanford is that he appears to have willfully misled his staff, the lieutenant governor and the people of the state about his whereabouts — signaling that he was likely headed to the Appalachian Trail before hopping on a flight to Argentina. There will almost certainly be some sort of investigation into whether Sanford misused state funds on this trip — remember that he took a state-owned vehicle and parked it at the Columbia airport — that will keep this wound raw for the foreseeable future.

• Sanford’s 2012 candidacy is almost certainly over. Having an extramarital affair is bad, but not being truthful to the people of the state and disappearing for five days is unforgivable on the national stage — or any stage for that matter. Let the search for a new champion for fiscal conservatives begin!


• Coming nearly one week to the day after Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) admitted his own affair, this is yet another gut punch for the Republican Party, which can’t seem to get off the mat. Republican strategists have to be wondering when enough is enough; the spate of bad press for the party for the past few weeks has been unrelenting.

Okay, so who’s next?  

Comments read comments(10)
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Mere Catholic

posted June 24, 2009 at 6:01 pm

How terribly sad. What is it about men, and more recently Republican men, in power and their incredible ability to self-destruct? I must give kudos to his wife, however, for not being present at the press conference. After Elizabeth Edwards and Silda Spitzer, it has become a tiresome spectacle to watch women publicly stand by their lotharios.
For the sake of his family, I hope the governor will receive the grace to truly repent and seek forgiveness.
In other news, death and destruction at the hands of a despotic regime are still taking place in Iran.

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posted June 24, 2009 at 7:14 pm

Sad? Or disgusting. I live in SC. The man left this state without any care for leaving it in the hands of someone else, like the Lt. Governor. He states he and his wife have been “working through this for 5 months.” So he goes off with his mistress w/out to another continent? He should resign, and most of my friends here think the same thing.

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posted June 24, 2009 at 7:26 pm

I wonder if the GOP members of the state legislature will seek articles of impeachment against Sanford for misuse of taxpayer funded state property?

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posted June 24, 2009 at 10:14 pm

Another anti-gay, Christianist, pro-family, sanctity of marriage hypocrite. I think it’s God’s sense of justice for people in power who try to damage others’ lives with their holier-than-thou attitude.

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malach hamovess

posted June 25, 2009 at 7:49 am

Just another self-absorbed politician agonizing over the failures in his marriage in front of the “stunned” audience. Sanford & wife have been engaging in a charade for a few months now; and when she “kicked him out” he should have just turned it into a brief press release. Instead, he jetted down to Argentina to “cry” while back in South Carolina he became the phantom.
The first sin is self-aggrandizement. If you believe that you’re more important than everyone else, you act out without regard to its effect on others. You cheat on your wife; you lie to your staff; you abandon your responsibilities to the people who elected and entrusted you.
It may even be that the type of person who goes into politics is by nature a bit excessively self-absorbed or narcissistic. If everything is about him – campaigns, elections, ruling, etc. – then he loses sight of the importance of others. A call to service should be to serve others – not one’s own self interest.

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posted June 25, 2009 at 9:00 am

I have family members that helped get this guy elected…they are sick and think he has lost his mind. Can you imagine how he has squandered not only this opportunity but a ton of money that people invested in him. One could make the argument that this is a wheat and chaff moment. I think we can be grateful that he isn’t going to the White House any time soon.

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posted June 25, 2009 at 9:16 am

I think it’s more a ‘you reap what you sow’ moment.
The perpetual refrain of “Nearer To God Than Thee” from the self-described “religious” “right” has proved to be their own hypocritical downfall.
Could someone please explain exactly what the “right” fears from treating all citizens equally?

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Your Name

posted June 25, 2009 at 11:51 am

Husband I agree with you wholeheartly…”reap what you sow” and hope you “learn the lesson” that has been placed before you. Chances are if he had employed a little more compassion for the people of SC when he so staunchly opposed the stimulus monies, the people would have a little more compassion for him…Often times, a certain group of people would like to think that when men reach a certain statue and become part of certain fraternities like the Mark Sanfords of the world, they become these perfect people who no longer have desires and feelings; and that all aspects of their lives are perfect too! Nothing could be further from the truth. They are still human beings, they still suffer the same frailities that all men and women suffer. Money and Power only magnifies who you already are…be it gentleman or jacka…

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Frank Clyburn

posted June 25, 2009 at 6:22 pm

Well, this is a bad thing for anybody to do. More so for someone is his position. I do not condone his conduct but I don’t consider it a “Republican” thing, rather another example of one a body of politicians who don’t have what I’d like my children to have…. We need to cull all of these type people out of politics….too bad we didn’t cull Bill Clinton out when he was doing this as President of the United States….

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Gerard Nadal

posted June 25, 2009 at 7:24 pm

This isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue. It is a human tragedy. The Governor should stand down and devote all of his time to mending the shredded relationships with his family and friends. The only decent and dignified manner to do so is as a private citizen. God bless his family in this hour of humiliation he has visited on them.

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