Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina had some explaining to do when he faced the press Wednesday afternoon. He had been absent from the state capitol in Columbia for several days and there was much confusion about where exactly he had been.
What followed was one of the most disjointed, emotional, bizarre confessions of infidelity you are ever likely to see.
It started innocently enough. Sanford began to wax lyrical about the Appalachian Trail and other “adventure trips” he had taken. He talked about the pressures of the “bubble” of being constantly in the public eye. He talked about the strains of the latest legislative session and how he needed a break.
Then he began to apologize. The list was long — wife, kids, friends, relatives, in-laws, and constituents. He asked forgiveness from his family, friends, and God.
And then we discovered that this wasn’t “the whole story.”
Mark Sanford had developed an eight year internet relationship with a woman from Argentina that turned into an extramarital affair in the last year.
“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.”
Sanford also announced that he was stepping down as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. And it is probable that his long shot hopes at securing the Republican nomination for president in 2012 also ended with his public confession.
His wife Jenny was nowhere to be seen. He didn’t answer a reporter’s query about whether he was separated but he did acknowledge that his wife had been aware of the relationship for about five months.
Sanford rambled quite a lot and was obviously under a terrible strain. But he tried to say something profound about moral choices and forgiveness. Self-serving in that context, perhaps, but striking to hear a politician discuss such weighty subjects so passionately. I found it refreshing in that regard, although the backdrop made much of it seem surreal at times.
Michelle Malkin speaks for a lot of conservatives I’m sure:
It’s the only fitting word for a man who abandons his wife and four sons on Father’s Day weekend to indulge his “overdrive” on an Argentinian fling.
Mark Sanford: Bastard.
If you missed Sanford’s rambling, surreal disaster of a press conference, consider yourself lucky.
He had a hell of a lot more passion and pathos for his mistress than his own wife. He referred wistfully to the “great friendship” and “that sparking thing” he had with the mistress for eight years — during which his wife was raising his four children.