Sanford’s Walkabout

Political rivalry and ideological differences find a convenient target

Okay, so let’s put this Mark Sanford fiasco in perspective, shall we?

First, for the sake of full disclosure let it be known that I am indeed a big fan of the South Carolina governor, and therefore may have a different view of his escape to Argentina for a few days following a stressful legislative session. Nevertheless, I don’t like that the chief executive for one of our fifty states essentially went missing for five days without apprising people of his current location. I don’t like that, in the case of emergency, staffers were left to make the decision of who to call and what to do. He should have been more explicit, without a doubt.

But to say that his political career is somehow over, that his credibility in terms of that needed for a pursuit of national office is somehow shot is just downright ridiculous.

Let’s go through the many facets of this situation, one by one:

1. What kind of person leaves his wife and four sons over Father’s Day weekend in search of relaxation?

I’ll admit that, at first, this question bugged me as well. After all, as far as I know his picturesque beach house on Sullivan’s Island was placed on the market this spring but has not sold yet. Furthermore, even his detractors note that Sanford is known as a devoted family man, so choosing to leave town–whether it be to the Appalachian Trail or the coast of Argentina–over a weekend traditionally known for backyard barbeques and playing catch with the kids is understandably game for scrutiny.

My wife, however, knows when I am in need of some alone time. Whether it be due to a particularly stressful weekend in terms of studying for exams or in the day or two after a bad semester comes to a close, she’ll happily stay with our daughter at my in-laws’ house to give me a much-needed sanity break. After what has been an extremely difficult legislative session marred by a packed schedule of interviews, correspondence to and from the White House, tea parties to attend, lawsuits to file and more, Sanford needed a break. Knowing what it’s like to have an extremely supportive wife and family myself, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jenny Sanford and the couple’s kids gave their husband and father a much-needed Father’s Day present — a break.

2. This is just the latest in a long line of eccentric behavior exhibited by Mark Sanford throughout his political career on the state and national level.

Eccentric behavior? Included in a piece at Politico.com is a number of examples. I find it interesting what gets passed off as “eccentric” nowadays.

As a congressman in the 1990s, he slept in his office to save money. I don’t know about you, but I like a lawmaker so willing to make a point about fiscal conservatism. If I were to run for Congress now, I certainly would not be able to afford to maintain a residence in Washington, D.C. as well as our home here — I would be forced to live with friends until we padded our savings accounts enough, commuting back and forth on the weekends like a more sane Joe Biden.

As governor, he brought squealing piglets into the statehouse to make a point about pork-barrel spending. And I’ll bet it was the lead story on every evening news broadcast from the Lowcountry to the Golden Corner, too. Fantastic. We absolutely, positively need someone willing to put themselves on the line for sanity in government. Because the story lives on in perpetuity, it’s fairly obvious that Sanford made his point. At this time in 2007, Democrats ceremoniously set up cots on Capitol Hill in a failed effort to force a vote on an Iraq troop withdrawal vote, and nobody throught that strange. Yet barely anybody remembers that gesture, while Sanford and his piglets are the stuff of political legend.

He’s a millionaire, but wears frayed slacks and was even sworn in while wearing a frayed jacket. Okay, so he’s not George Clooney. Whoop-dee-doo. All this does is emphasize the divide between the elite crowd in Washington, D.C. and on the coasts and people like Gov. Sanford. We’ve seen how such fundamental and philosophical differences manifested themselves in criticism of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin–derided for accepting an expensive, loaned campaign wardrobe–so it should come as no surprise that a similar attack is used on another right-of-center politician threatening the liberal establishment.

He walked around barefoot in meetings in the state Capitol and did sit-ups at odd times. Well, our sitting president seems to have a Vladimir Putin-like penchant for being spotted shirtless, and nobody seems to say anything. The media even highlighted his trips to the gym. On the barefoot thing, I don’t know — but I do often see women who take off their heels as soon as they reach the office.

“During his State of the State speech in 2006, he lost his train of thought and admitted he was daydreaming about a fishing trip with a pal.” All the time, we hear people wishing that our politicians could be more like the people they represent. Here’s a guy who would rather be fishing than giving a political speech. I don’t blame him — in fact, I have a friend who just started a charter fishing business in Charleston (I’m working on a story about him for America’s Right) and I look forward to getting out on the water with him next time I visit my future hometown. Besides, isn’t “I’d Rather Be Fishing” a popular bumper sticker? Nevertheless, it was a big political speech; thank goodness for his TelePrompt–

3. Going off for a few days at a time just shows that Mark Sanford is not presidential material.

“To run for president requires a steady diet of crackpot stew,” longtime Democratic Party strategist Paul Begala is quoted as saying in the Politico piece. “Start with borderline narcissism, add a bit of Messiah complex, stir in a dollop of paranoia and blend with delusions of grandeur.”

Hmm. That’s lovely. We see where that particular candidate profile got us. And speaking of the liberal Messiah, it seems to me that our current president–elected by what the American left would like to call a landslide–has a long history of far-left ideology, counts among his friends actual terrorists and terrorist sympathizers foreign and domestic, attained office by questionably forcing others off the ballot, and has significant unanswered questions about his personal life — including missing college records (the media sure liked to scrutinize the records of George W. Bush) and what many consider to be inadequate evidence of even the most basic information about his birth.

Yet Mark Sanford’s decision to take a well-needed vacation while he still can is somehow an automatic disqualifier? Last I checked, the U.S. Constitution mentions nothing of unannounced vacations in Article II, Section 1.

4. But . . . but it’s just weird.

Apparently, Sanford himself admitted that he likes to take “adventure trips” to unwind. The State noted that he has in the past visited Turkey, The Greek Isles and South America, and quoted the governor as saying that he would feel the need to “get out of the bubble I am in.”

Perhaps anyone who doesn’t deem that understandable should ask Barack Obama. The president has, several times since taking his seat in the Oval Office in January, mentioned his need to escape the “fishbowl” of the White House and has indeed done whatever he could to do so — including trips for hot dogs, ice cream and hamburgers out in the D.C. area. Of course, Five Guys is not Argentina, but the concept is the same.

Before we dismiss South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford as a kook or someone otherwise incapable of running for and holding the presidency, perhaps we should look past the superficial idiosyncracies and look at what motivates them. I see a man who wants nothing more than to live the life of his constituents but, because of his profile, can only do the best he can to preserve their way of life from his position in the Capitol or the statehouse.

The man wanted to get away. I don’t blame him. In fact, if I could, I’d join him — frayed pants and all.

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Comments

  1. Robert Wallace says:

    "The man wanted to get away. I don't blame him. In fact, if I could, I'd join him — frayed pants and all."

    Agreed.

  2. Robert Wallace says:

    Huh… Rush seems to be saying there's a sex scandal involved.

    Can't find anything in print yet.

    Obviously that would change everything.

  3. Robert Wallace says:

    Alright, here we go:

    "There are moral absolutes. … There are consequences if you breach that. This press conference is a consequence. The bottom line is this: I've been unfaithful to my wife. I developed a relationship with … a dear, dear friend from Argentina. It began"very innocently…as many of these things do…over last year, it developed into something much more than that. I hurt her, I hurt you all, I hurt my boys…"

    http://politics.theatlantic.com/2009/06/sanfords_fugue_its_gonna_hurt.php

    I'm incredibly pissed at Sanford, and I feel really badly for you, Jeff. There goes another GOP hopeful due to self-inflicted lecherous idiocy.

  4. Laurie says:

    Jeff…you are spot on!! Give the guy a break…just because he kept his R&R quiet and did not spend any of the taxpayers dollars to get away, he should not be stoned…0 should take some lessons from him. Maybe he should have told someone, but he didn't and nothing bad happened. He got the private time he needed and wanted and like you I would love to join him.

  5. Gail B says:

    Uhh-It was FATHER'S Day, not FAMILY'S Day.

    Uhh- Mark Sanford has the right to be the person he is or wants to be. Yes, RIGHT TO BE! "We the People of the United States….promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty…do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

    Uhh- Holy Cow! Call the cookie truck: My favorite pair of Bermuda shorts has holes in the seat! (Transferred battery acid) I have stitched many holes in them already.

    Uhh- "Long line of eccentric behavior…." Anybody taken a look at the liberal Democrats lately?

    Uhh- "slept in his office to save money" Does anyone know the cost of living in and around D.C.? No doubt he's not the only one to have slept in an office. At least he wasn't repeating what was done in the Oval Office!

    Uhh- my retired civil engineer friend from high school is wealthy. He lamented last week that he had to throw out a pair of pants that were 20 years old. Last summer he nearly cried when his 40-year-old box fan died. (I could hear it moaning over the phone for weeks.)

    Uhh-Tommy Irvin, GA Agriculture Commissioner, lies on his back in the floor of his office because of back pain. Bet he wishes he could do sit-ups!

    Uhh-Is going to Argentina illegal, immoral or fattening? And, whose business is it that he goes? Mark Sanford's!

    "Gee Can I Go Too?"
    (verify: halmxtup — All mixed up!)

  6. Lee Strong says:

    Well, yeah, I might want to hang out with him. Swap stories.

    I too am a dad who likes alone time. I might even take a long drive of an afternoon. But I would never so disrespect my wife and kids that I'd just take off and leave the country for a few days like that.

    Potential President or Vice President? His actions raise too many questions in my mind.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Jeff. I was awaiting your comments on Sanford. I am sick of seeing this story on TV and the news while North Korea is steaming forward with their missile exercises and has now vowed to "wipe the U.S. off the face of the earth." Thus, no one is carrying this except Fox and Drudge Report. As for Sanford, I admire the man. He has committed no crime and I am sure he comes back refreshed and with his head on straight. Besides you cannot measure what someone else does by what you would or would not do because that person is not you. Thank God for diversity. I think we can safely say the news media is not interested in Americans hearing the truth. They are more interested in the soap opera aspects of everyones life.

  8. Linda says:

    Once Governor Sanford started speaking out against the porkulus package, you had to have known that it wouldn't be long before they started to find something to exploit and/or exaggerate about him. I respect Governor Sanford and his desire not to encumber and enslave his state to the federal government, and consider him to be one of the dwindling public proponents for the conservative movement. Once you said that he was the one who used to sleep in his office, a light went off in my head. I remember reading about someone who did that, but didn't realize it was Governor Sanford – gee, I like him even more now that I put that piece of the puzzle in the mix.

    I find it hard to believe that absolutely no one knew where he was. Even though no one is owning up to it or would say something, I'm sure that several people knew where he was. (Nothing like a good staff who doesn't leak information, is there.) Perhaps this "need to have fame and publicity" administration can take something from Governor Sanford's lead.

    Nevertheless, I will continue to stand behind Governor Sanford and follow him in the next couple of long, albeit "could be interesting" years.

    Excuse me now while I go put on my frayed jeans.

  9. Anonymous says:

    WOW! WE WERE ALL FOOLED!!!!

    JEFF, your favorite politician turns out to be a typical politician. Seems he has admitted having an affair with a woman in Argentina and has resigned from Republican Governor's Association.

  10. Linda says:

    Okay – I guess I have to rescind my post about Governor Sanford. Sigh!!!! Who woulda thunk – but Rush is talking about it right now. Where have you gone [Mrs.]Conservative Party . . . a nation turns its lonely heart to you.

  11. GiveMeSanity says:

    WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Gov Sanford just had a press conference, and stated that he had an affair and is resigning as Chair of the Republican Governor's Association. The liberal media is going to have Sanford butchered over this. (Yet they still praise John Edwards).

    I'm praying for the Sanford family NOW.

  12. VOTE FOR WOMEN says:

    It's official: SEX

  13. Gail B says:

    From the Atlanta Journal and Constitution (and a companion story was issued by the Washington Post):

    SC Gov. Mark Sanford says he's had an affair
    By JIM DAVENPORT
    Associated Press Writer
    COLUMBIA, S.C. — Gov. Mark Sanford admitted Wednesday he's been having an affair with a woman he visited on a secret trip to Argentina and said he'll resign as head of the Republican Governors Association.

    Sanford, a rumored 2012 presidential candidate, refused to say whether he'll leave office.

    (photo)
    FILE – In a Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009 file photo, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, right, and his wife Jenny, left, arrive at the White House to attend a dinner hosted by President Obama, in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
    "I've let down a lot of people, that's the bottom line," Sanford said at a news conference. He said he's known the woman about eight years, but their relationship turned into something more a year ago while he was on an economic development trip to Argentina.

    Sanford, a 49-year-old father of four, choked up during remarks to reporters. He said his wife has known about the affair for the last five months.

    Sanford revealed Wednesday morning that he'd gone to Argentina for a seven-day trip. For two days after reporters starting asking questions, his office had said he had gone hiking on the Appalachian Trial.

    Meanwhile, first lady Jenny Sanford had told The Associated Press she did not know where her husband went for the Father's Day weekend.

    WELL, I GUESS THAT BLOWS up OUR DEFENSE FOR HIM!

  14. Gail B says:

    From the New York Times:

    Gov. Sanford Admits Affair and Explains Disappearance

    Mark Sanford, the governor of South Carolina, apologized in a
    rambling news conference on Wednesday for having 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.

    Read More:
    http://www.nytimes.com/?emc=na

  15. Claudia says:

    well, I guess that Sanford is OFF the list, it just came out over AP that he has had a presser stating that he has been having an affair, it all started out innocently with email and such, and eventually esclated to a full blown love connection……

    At least my own (NV) state's Ensign's affair has been over for a year already, when he admitted to it. And poor Ensign is up before the Senate Ethic committee for that, and has hadd to step down from his Chair of whatever seat he has held in Committee….. so I would effectively guess that Sanford is done politically for Pres…. same as NV. Gov Gibbons is done since his divorce with his wife. Republicans are always being held to a HIGHER accountability by Democrats who are as equally guilty of dubious affairs and ethics, but none of them seem to be as skewered by the media and the people as Republicans are always done.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Oh well, Jeff, one can't be right all of the time. Sanford's done.

    I loved Bill Sammon's comment on Fox; "Somewhere right now Mitt Rommney is smiling".

  17. Gail B says:

    SC Governor Mark Sanford has deeply disappointed many people, true; but judge not, that ye be not judged.

    Senator John Ensign (R-NV) has recently admitted to an affair, but he was not cast out by his constituents. In fact, he has a higher approval rating than Harry Reid!

    (verify: grain (as in "take it with a grain of salt?")

  18. Gail B says:

    You know, if Mark Sanford can bring about restoration of our prosperous, free enterprise way of life, I wouldn't care if he brought his sidekick to live in the White House with his family! That's HIS business, not mine!

    Anyone here have an empty closet, free of skeletons? The only perfect person DIED 2,000 YEARS AGO!

    Our faith is what repentance and forgiveness is about–our faith that Jesus died to save us from our sins.

  19. Anonymous says:

    More proof that the GOP does not equal the party of ethics and morality. What a hypocrite. How disappointing for all of us.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I call BS……..
    how does a multi millionaire, smart politician, not be able to cover up an affair.
    who goes away for 7 days to another country for a booty call? When you're a Governer?
    And then when a little media pressure is added to the mix just instantly drops his entire political future to "come clean" BS. BS BFS. There is way more to this story that Sanford does not want to come out.
    If it is (was) an affair, he could have let it ease out slowly after the heat died down and salvaged some of his future. he has the money to keep a secret for awhile. the affair is thousands of miles away even if every news outlet sent reporters to Argentina there is little chance they would find out much if any effort was made to keep it a secret.
    I dont believe it.
    The big question (that will problably never get answered) is why was he really there.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Anonymous 4:29…

    I agree…I thought that, too. Something else is going on here. This isn't the whole story! I am very sad, and bewildered at why he would take such risks when he HAD TO KNOW that he was being scrutinized to the nth degree.

    Argentina? That is so blatant!

    I just feel so bad for his family…especially his 4 boys…I have been the child in a situation like this. It is devastating!

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