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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Amateur Night

The 24-hour cable news services had a field day when Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina went AWOL for four days. Even more when they got word from his office that his wife didn't know where he was and didn't care. The story got juicier when his office sent out a statement that he might be hiking in the Appalachians. Gossip had it that during the summer solstice it is the custom in the Appalachians to hike--get this, Puritan America--in the nude.

Talk about juicy! He was spotted in the Atlanta airport getting off a plane from Buenos Aires. No nude hiking at all, just the chance of hanky-panky in South America. The governor was on the spot. He had some 'splaining to do. Under the pressure of coming up with an explanation before the cameras, he caved and told his story.

The cable tv commentators, a bloodthirsty and sometimes heartless lot, went wild. Here was hypocrisy in high places, a Republican of all things, admitting to having an affair. As if Democrats in high places don't do such things. Red meat!

A friend who has long been a defender of the practice of extramarital sex emailed me this: "He is setting 'recreational sex' back 40 years." An interesting take on the practice, but hardly an unbiased view of the situation. For one thing, Sanford wasn't involved in recreational sex. Unlike my sophisticated friend, he is clearly a debutante in the field. He had become involved physically with a woman outside his marriage and, falling in love, became all befuddled as men in such situations can do. Cameras rolling, he apologized to everyone he hurt, and seemed to be compelled to include everyone he had ever met. In truth, his actions hurt himself, obviously, for the staid gentleman was clearly falling apart before our eyes; his family and maybe a few close friends. And what hurt them was not the affair but the very public, very clumsy confession.

Not for a minute could the affair he described, and the subsequent revelation of emails on cable TV and the Internet, be considered a casual dalliance (or recreational sex). While Keith Olbermann couldn't resist intoning excerpts of the purple prose with New-Age music swooping in the background, my inner sentimentalist--the woman in me--said, "Yeah, very funny, but I wish that had been written to me."

His wife is on record as having kicked him out two weeks ago. What choice did he have but to go to Argentina and cry with his mistress for a few days? Well, I get that, but anybody who has even been anywhere near a situation like this lays careful plans. The wife didn't want to know, but something very tidy must be done about the staff--and if you're the governor, the constituents. It wouldn't have been that hard. But we're talking about a man who's out of his head, however temporarily (one hopes), and not using that particular part of his cerebral cortex for thinking.

What of his political future? Unlike those talking heads who confront me almost every evening, I'm not gonna say I know. I think he'll soon retire from what we call public life and get a life of his own. A few politicians have survived their scandals--I can think of a very public one who seems to sail through life failing upward in this area over and over. But Sanford broke the cardinal rule in a country full of people who say one thing and do another. He told the truth. In Washington, that's known as a gaffe, even in a minor situation. But this was pretty major.

15 comments:

steve said...

A Swaggart event indeed. Very pitiful.

steve said...

Furthermore, a comment from The Economist Democracy on America Blog:

'Saying you're "hiking the Appalachian trail" is a well-known South Carolinian euphemism for having an affair with a woman in Buenos Aires.'

But back to your post, ML. I think your final four lines sum it up pretty well.

steve said...

I've a few more comments and, but for this, I'll restrain myself for now.

This sad affair does not, however, appear to indicate this fellow is a casual serial adulterer. I mean, that's a long way to fly. The press conference must have had his PR people ready to cut their own throats, in hear that someone may think they had part in the strategy and preparation.

As ML noted, "Amateur Night" for sure.

Mary Lois said...

Steve, this thing has really got you going, hasn't it? I agree that Sanford is pitiful, in a way, but not because he's been a bad boy. He just got blindsided by life and doesn't know what to do with himself.

His wife seems to be indicating that she wants to work things out, but I'm kinda pulling for the mistress here. I think the wife can do better for herself, and the boys will be fine if the parents are as mature under normal circumstances as they seem to be. This kind of thing happens all the time, and it's not always tragic for everyone. In our hypocritical world, the one place is cannot happen is in politics. I'm sure he can find a different line of work and will succeed beyond anything he ever could have achieved on the national stage.

Above all, he needs some time to regroup now (not unlike Susan Boyle) and assess what he really wants to do with the rest of his life. He may have a future in Buenos Aires.

Pat D said...

I don't agree with any of his politics, but we can't have him resign. The Lt. Gov is a laughing stock but if he is gov for a year, he'll easily be reelected for 8 more in this republican state.

He broke up with the Argentine lady, his wife is his brains and he has enough family money not to ever work again as does his wife a former Wall St. lady.

K. said...

Hmm...interesting viewpoint...I never really look at the OTHER side when these scandals come out...
Speaking of the NY area, I'm now thinking about the whole Spitzker (is that his name?) scandal...

Mary Lois said...

My friend Pat who commented above is a citizen of South Carolina and assures us that the (married) couple will get back together. Probably right, but I like my scenario better.

steve said...

Many a tear has to fall
But it's all in the game
All in the wonderful game
That we know as love

You had words with him
And your future's looking dim
But these things your heart can rise above

Once in a while he won't call
But it's all in the game

Soon he'll be there by your side
With a small bouquet

And he'll kiss your lips
And caress your fingertips
And your heart will fly away

You had words with him
And your future's looking dim
But these things your heart can rise above

Once in a while he won't call
But it's all in the game

Soon he'll be there by your side
With a small bouquet

And he'll kiss your lips
And caress your fingertips
And your heart will fly away

steve said...

Of course as Omar says, "it's all in the game"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cryMVK1PwuQ

steve said...

Instead of hiking
The Appalachian Trail
He's south of the border
With some Argentine tail

Mary Lois said...

Steve, please. Pull yourself together.

steve said...

I have some experience in these matters.

Miami. July, 1988. She flew in from Lima. I flew in from Nashville.

She said "Que Pasa?"
I said "whaddya mean what happened? Nothing happened."
As she magnificently strode naked from the room, she casually remarked to me, "you're a very bad liar."

True story.

Mary Lois said...

I would say,"And then what happened?" but discretion prevents me.

Hope you went hiking on the Appalachian trail.

Panaderos said...

Hi.

I think you're right. He probably will have a happier and better future down in Buenos Aires. He wouldn't have fallen for the other woman if there wasn't anything missing from his marriage. Just my opinion on this matter.

twoheads said...

Well if the emails surfacing are the real thing, seems the gov has some decisions to make. I think this take echoes my feelings about the matter.

You go, gov! If the mood hits you, run for office again. The public has a forgiving side when politics and scandal mix. Love's memory however is eternal. If the muse has forgiven you, run with it and don't look back.