Finally proud that he’s my governor

Thank you, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, for ruining my post today. Also, too bad about how your ruined your life.

All day Wednesday, intriguing new details were emerging about your six-day disappearance from the governor’s mansion. First, you were hiking the Appalachian Trail by yourself because you needed to get away from the wife and kids on Father’s Day weekend so you could “write”. Then you were spotted by a reporter at the airport in Atlanta, where you confessed you had instead gone to Argentina, of all places, to recover from recent political battles against the federal government. Well, maybe he’d be announcing a new trade agreement bringing two of that nation’s leading exports – honey and sunflower seeds – to South Carolina. Think of the jobs that would generate.

Then, as I get ready to sit down and compose a piece speculating wildly about your adventures south of the border, I check the news to discover that suddenly it’s tango time! As was widely whispered, you’ve been unable to keep your empanadas safely stored in your gauchos (or is it the other way around?). Apparently preparing for a new career in a dinner theatre production of “Evita,” Sanford told a packed press conference that he had spent “the last five days of my life crying in Argentina.”

Then I read this account from The New York Times coverage of the speech:

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

“The bottom line is this. I have been unfaithful to my wife,” he said. “I developed a relationship with … a dear friend from Argentina. It began very innocently, as I suspect these things do. But here, recently, over this last year, [it] 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 would ask for y’all’s indulgence, not for me, but for Jenny and the boys.”

While I might be diametrically opposed to the right-wing governor’s policies, you can’t help but feel for the guy after reading that. Rocking on his feet at the podium? That’s so sad. Suddenly he sounds more like a fallible human being than a self-righteous model of morality.

So you’ll get no jokes from me about how “Miss South Carolina” went from a phrase of ridicule following last year’s Miss Teen USA pageant to a question for the absent governor. No cracks about how secret negotiations to bring a rare Argentinian puma to the Columbia Zoo were disrupted by a cougar. No gags about a South Carolina education that blurred the difference between all those “A” countries (Argentina, Appalachia, Alaska, etc.). No assertions that he was looking for political tips from the corpse of Juan Peron, or that he visited the Falkland Islands to study how he might defend his state from an invasion by Tennessee, or that he became a desaparecido, another of the forced disappearances that characterized the country’s Dirty War of the 1970s.

And, most importantly, no snarky remarks asking how would the leaderless state cope if it were suddenly devastated by an attack that left it in economic and social ruin, then noting that, no, wait, that happened while he was here.

(I’ve been jotting these things down all day – you can’t expect me just to throw them away).

I happen to have lived in South Carolina for the past 30 years, so maybe I’m just feeling protective of a fellow Sandlapper (no joke – that’s really what we’re called). Does he and fellow Republicans John Ensign, Larry Craig, Mark Foley, etc., deserve more shame than disgraced Democrats like John Edwards and Eliot Spitzer? Yes, because they get to have one more adjective attached to their names: “hypocrite”.

Still, you have to feel some positive reaction toward a man who traded conservatism, Dixie traditions and USC football for a yerba mate and a thick steak on the beach of Buenos Aires. If you’ve ever been to Columbia, you’ll know what I mean.

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2 Responses to “Finally proud that he’s my governor”

  1. Touchdown74 Says:

    I guess what is more upseting is that he “exported” a job that a fine, vibrant American woman could have done! 😉

  2. Era Says:

    Hay caramba! What’s with all these politicos? At least he didn’t trot out the wife to stand dutifully by his side while he rocked on his feet at the podium.

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