Gov. Sanford's Future in the Republican Party, RIP

The GOP -- and conservatives in general -- have taken the infidelity scandal involving South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford particularly hard.

The reasons are threefold:

1) News of Senator John Ensign's affair broke less than two weeks earlier. Having another extramarital affair hit the news so soon afterwards is frustrating and disturbing to the party faithful.

2) Unlike Ensign, Mark Sanford was a legitimate 2012 presidential contender and was viewed as one of the biggest rising stars in the party. Seeing his potential thrown away like this is nothing short of tragic for those who had hopes for him.

3) Many conservatives publicly defended Sanford when the "missing in action" story originally broke and he was presumably on an Appalachian hike to get away and commune with nature. They felt particularly foolish and extremely betrayed when it turned out he was in fact meeting his lover in Argentina.

This hostile reaction from within his own party is extremely bad news for Sanford because he already has an uphill fight to keep his job as governor. Not only is South Carolina a Bible Belt state, but Sanford acquired more than a few enemies from within the GOP during the stimulus fight. When you add in the published love letters, pictures of "Maria," whom the Argentian press has already outed, and with discussion over whether he met with his lover on the taxpayer's dime still to come, the story still has legs and isn't going away anytime soon.

Needless to say, it exploded across the Internet as soon as he confessed at his strange emotional press conference.

On Twitter, the sniping was merciless:

David_in_Austin: Sanford outsourcing affair. What a slap to the face of American homewreckers.

Talkmaster: If Sanford had cheated on his taxes instead of his wife he would be a Cabinet member by now. (from a listener)

hcovitz: "I'm hiking the Appalachian Trail" means having an affair.

nayato: from the SA forums: South Carolina's newspaper headlines should read "Sanford rejects federal stimulus, accepts Argentinian stimulus"

Lileks: It gets worse for Sanford: press now scornfully reporting that the Argentine gal-pal did NOT have toned, sculpted arms

diogenesis: At this rate, first Ensign and now Sanford, Palin will end up as R nominee in 2012 by a process of marital elimination.

snarkandboobs: What? Sanford was only following Obama's lead: seeking counsel of wise latina!

The reaction from the Rightroots -- the conservative blogging community -- was less bemused, and the fury and disgust was more palpable.