Politicians when caught in sex scandals seem to often apologize for “letting down” or “disappointing” various people — and Mark Sanford hit that point over and over.

For his family: “Let me first of all apologize to my wife Jenny, and our four great boys Marshall, Landon, Bolton and Blake for letting them down.”
His staff: “And so I let them down by creating a fiction with regard to where I was going, which means that I then in turn given as much as they relied on that information, let down people that I represent across this state….”
“I want to apologize to anybody who lives in South Carolina for the way that I let them down…”
“I have in a very profound way, have let down the Tom Davises of the world.…”
The father-in-law: “I let him down…”
“I’ve let down a lot of people. That’s the bottom line….”

When New York’s Democratic Governor Elliot Spitzer resigned for infidelity, he said he had “disappointed” his wife. Republican Senator David Vitter of Louisiania apologized for “deep and sincere apologies to all I have disappointed and let down in any way.”
This language has always bothered me. I let down my kids when I promise to see Friday the 13th with them and then don’t. I disappont my wife when I promise to get home in time and then don’t.
Sanford didn’t let down his family, he betrayed them. He didn’t disappointed them, he harmed them.
I empathize with the anguish Sanford seems to feel, but if you’re going to apologize, start by not minimizing the severity of what you’ve done.

More from Beliefnet and our partners