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Advice to Mark Sanford: Never Put it in an Email and Never Lie to Your Staff

Posted: Jun 25, 2009

Unless you have been in the jungles of Borneo for the last four days, you know that Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina is in a heap of trouble. Having been incommunicado for nearly a week, Sanford appeared before a press conference to confess that he had not been hiking in Appalachia but having an affair in Argentina. Easy mistake to make. Both locations begin with an A. So does the word "adultery," but since I am a firm believer in casting no stones, not even excepting those without sin, I will use the D word. I mean, how dumb can you get!

Gail Collins prefers the words "looney" and "nutty," pointing out in her brilliant essay in today's New York Times that "First of all, we may want to consider the possibility that the governor’s decision to reject the federal stimulus money was not a mighty stand against government spending but instead an early sign of total nuttiness. " To which I would add, maybe we should have heeded the signs.

Sanford's recent indiscretion is somewhat mild in the face of his total ineptitude in handling the situation. Now, we know not only that he was having an illicit affair and had left the country without informing even his lieutenant governor, but we also can read the details about his progressive loss of sanity on the internet. I kid you not. At least a portion of the email exchange between Mark and Maria (is this starting to sound like West Side Story?) is available in newspapers and on the WWW. I know that love is a many splendored thing, but does it have to strike you (Sanford refers to his falling in love as a "lightning stike") deaf, dumb, and blind?

This is a man who was a serious contender as a nominee for vice-president of the United States and who, until a few days ago, was high on the list as a possible presidential candidate in 2012. To err is human, as Sanford has reminded us all, and to forgive is divine. I suggest that it is possible to have a momentary lapse of reason, but to remain in this state for almost an entire year and to embarrass and perhaps even jeopardize the well-being of your state, your constituency, and your political party (not to mention your wife and family) borders on lunacy. I pity Sanford and I forgive him. I know we have been there, seen that before. The affair to me is not the critical issue here. The issue is rather one of betraying the public trust. A fact that Mark Sanford now knows all too well.

Sanford immediately resigned his position as head of the Republican Governors Association, but he remains in his position as Governor of South Carolina. His wife is contemplating a reconciliation. I hope they can all move on and put this pain behind them. To continue with my stone throwing metaphor, allow me to seque from John to Luke: "And to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required..." It is true that we often hold our public servants to a higher standard than that to which we hold ourselves. We have bestowed upon them a sacred trust. We understand that they are merely human; we just pray they are not fools.

--Penne J. Laubenthal

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cgregg says...

At least he did it before the next presidential election!

michaelbuffalo says...

I think she needs to put an ass whoopin' on him. How stupid. Great article Penne.

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