The governor regrets.

I suppose you guys will want to discuss the latest GOP flameout, and I can’t blame you. This is good because I have morning obligations and won’t be able to sit down and think until lunchtime. So come back then.

In the hours since all this broke, I’m finding my position toward Gov. Sanford softening, if only a bit. Nothing in his constricted morality prepared him for this, and while you can’t excuse the betrayal of his family, I can’t help but empathize with him — he really did look half-poleaxed yesterday. Whatever else this thing was, it does appear to have been a love affair, and not just another tawdry mistress-boffing. If nothing else, the e-mails confirm that.

I guess what I’m saying is, this was a nervous breakdown as much as it was an explanation. I think Roy got it right in the first half of this post.

OK, then. Off to cycle and sweat, and back in a few hours.

Posted at 8:52 am in Current events |

33 responses to “The governor regrets.”

  1. moe99 said on June 25, 2009 at 10:24 am

    Nancy, if I was AWOL from my job for 7 days and had not notified those who were statutorily obligated to fill in for me (read Lt. Governor), I would have been fired. The man not only crapped out on his family, he crapped out on the entire state of S. Carolina. He doesn’t get a pass on this one just because of a 12 year affair.

    And I thought the emails to the mistress were reminiscent of the ones I found in the family computer ten years ago. The line that sticks in my memory is where he wrote: “I want to be in between your legs all night long.” ’bout the same level of authorship and raging hormones.

    And TPM has some unanswered questions that those caught up in the emotion of the presser didn’t ask:

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  2. coozledad said on June 25, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Moe 99: Well, that’s a sentence I can say with some degree of confidence I’ll never write. After five or six minutes of push-ups I’m looking for the dry, cool area of the bed, and there might as well be a tag on my toe for the next eleven hours.

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  3. Connie said on June 25, 2009 at 11:02 am

    Some years ago I fired someone for failing to return to work after 7 days off. And showing up another week later. Blamed it on her husband’s visa problems while they were in Mexico. I said: if you had called….

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  4. Jenine said on June 25, 2009 at 11:15 am

    I’m hoping for any other news story to take over. I will take health care reform debate over this personal meltdown any day.

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  5. nancy said on June 25, 2009 at 11:32 am

    I’m not excusing him at all. I am saying I can’t feel quite as much sneering contempt as others. Part of it is because this story is only the latest in a long line of GOP family-values types exposed as hypocrites, and I’m just tired of reading the same script over and over.

    He needs to quit, almost certainly. But I do think whatever happened in this case, it was probably as much a surprise to Sanford as it was to anyone else.

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  6. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 25, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Actually, i’m curious if anyone else saw the ABC health insurance forum last night. I only got to see about half, and a pretty MD-centric half at that. Obama was showing that he’s shifting focus pretty strongly to this subject, and i think all sides are sincere about the Scylla and Charbydis of a) this can’t go on, trend-wise, with costs and employer-base coverage, but b) when there’s a federal option, what happens when everyone runs over to one side of the pontoon boat?

    What makes the presidency age a fellow — you spend months and weeks getting ready to push on a particular, major, challenging front, and at the worst possible moment, Iran starts shooting nice young women on the street.

    As with most of our jobs, gotta do both. Pray for ’em, too.

    I agree with the Nervous Breakdown theory for Sanford if only i knew what a nervous breakdown was. Like a midlife crisis, it sometimes seems like a figleaf of a label for “i dunno, i just did it.” He did give communications officers a bit of video that will be used for years to tell bosses and clients “No, you want to prepare a statement, really.” I’d like to be impressed that he came out and just tried to speak from the heart, but there’s too much backed-into-a-corner-ness in how events unfolded for me to give him even that.

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  7. James said on June 25, 2009 at 11:49 am

    I’m tempted to do the obvious cartoon: “Where in the World is Governor Sanford?”

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  8. del said on June 25, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Governor Sanford’s droning on about the MEANING of forgiveness made me wish that Howard Stern’s old sidekick Stuttering John were at the press conference to bring him back to earth with some sordid question about the details of their sex. Enough already governor.
    That said, I really don’t think that the sex lives of our leaders are relevant to performance in office (unless there’s, as here, hypocrisy).

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  9. Dorothy said on June 25, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Hey Kirk – I just got to shake hands with Mike Harden! He’s having lunch with Mark Ellis today and he is in my boss’s office right now, having a conversation. He’s a tiny fellow, isn’t he?? Told him I’m a big fan.

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  10. nancy said on June 25, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    This is what I’m talking about.

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  11. Michael said on June 25, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    I think the Thursday Morning quarterbacking is missing the story here. There is nothing new in “Mark Sanford”. The story here, what makes it different is his wife. First she tries, then she thows his butt out, and then while he supposed to be deciding if he wants/intends to come back he runs to the other woman (duly noted love affair, not intern/staffer boffing).

    When it all comes out (and why did it on the day of the big health care thing? after the papers had the info for 6 months), she doesn’t come to his defense, or support. She remains, on the island with the boys and her family. He is still welcome to try to come home, but on her terms. She has chosen her dignity, and her son’s development, over the power/prestige/pure raw “money” of hanging around with “him”.

    I am truly amazed at her character and think she is the MOTW (if not the big book deal, or future politician) in this family.

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  12. KLG said on June 25, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Although his performance was genuine and even poignant at times, Mark Sanford deserves no sympathy whatsoever. He is the vilest of hypocrites who has no sympathy for the less fortunate in his state or anywhere else. A typical Modern Republican (emphasis on “modern”) and nothing more. He needs to resign and then go away for a long time and contemplate the abject humiliation he has brought down on his family, particularly his children. Yeah, I’m cranky this morning.

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  13. Scout said on June 25, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Nancy, you are obviously a better person than me, because I have not been able to muster up one single ounce of sympathy for the Love Gov. His family, yes. Maybe it’s because as a gay American my last nerve is pinging with stuff like this:

    But the good news is that millions of South Carolinians have learned that a paramour is not something used for lawn care. 😉

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  14. mark said on June 25, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    I guess I missed all of Sanford’s moralizing about adultery. Not saying he didn’t, I just don’t follow the every word of every republican like most here.

    The hypocrite indicts himself, not the message he professed. Some here may not like the message, but the fall of a messenger (if that’s what Sanford was) is pretty meaningless. Sanford ought to resign, or be shoved out, to reinforce the message that fidelity does matter and there are consequences for poor behavior.

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  15. brian stouder said on June 25, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    And note, for the record, that Governor Sanford probably wouldn’t have been much more than a member of city council in whatever city he came from, if he hadn’t latched onto his wealthy wife (apparently her family’s wealth orignated from the Skil tool line….and she might well have use for one of their circular saws, for that Argentinian limb her husband shimmied out on)

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  16. ROgirl said on June 25, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Yes, his actions have opened him to the revelation that he’s a human being, not just an animatronic message bearer for Republican moralizing and governing commandments. But there’s also some karmic satisfaction in knowing that so many of those who went out of their way to condemn Bill Clinton have been caught in similarly tawdry circumstances with their flies down.

    It would be refreshing if the Republican/Born Again/Moral Values/Jesus is the Answer/You’re Going to Burn for Eternity, You Non-Believers crowd would reconsider their take on life, death and/or politics, but I ain’t holding my breath. This may clear the path for Mitt Romney in the near future.

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  17. Dorothy said on June 25, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    RIP Farrah Fawcett.

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  18. moe99 said on June 25, 2009 at 1:13 pm

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  19. Susan Gillie said on June 25, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    As they say in the South, “aww, bless his heart.”

    In Indy we have our own “l’amour fou”–the local car salesman’s wife ran off with her plastic surgeon. As a friend says, “only in Indiana.”

    Here is the link

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  20. moe99 said on June 25, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Hey mark, rest assured that Sanford was way out front about how awful Bill Clinton was for the affair and for his lying:

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  21. Connie said on June 25, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    I’ve seen numerous comments on various blogs this a.m. talking about how what Clinton did was far worse than what Sanford did. It’s been more than a decade, but they can’t let it go.

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  22. Christy S. said on June 25, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Is it just a coincidence that “Appalachia” and “Argentina” begin and end with As and have four syllables? Would love to have been a fly on the wall during the staff meeting that came away with the “Let’s say he’s hiking the Appalachian Trail” story. Wonder what other ideas were floated?

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  23. mark said on June 25, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    moe: You will have to enlighten me about how those two comments put Sanford “way out front about how awful Bill Clinton was”. They seem pretty reserved to me.

    Connie: Perhaps some of those comments are using Clinton to point out the “hypocrisy” of some currently expressing outrage, glee or whatever at Sanford. Really old comments/events may be used and exaggerated freely when the purpose is to expose hypocrisy. See moe at 20.

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  24. Rana said on June 25, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    I can feel sorry for him as a person, but I can’t muster up any sympathy for the public official. When you’re in a position to use your power to dictate that people live up to one religion’s arbitrary and sexist moral standards, and you can’t even manage that in your own life, you’re not only hypocritical, but cruel. I’d hope that his experiences would make him more sympathetic to the human foibles of other people, and thus to temper his absolutist rhetoric and policies, but I doubt it will happen.

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  25. James said on June 25, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Sanford… He’s a Democrat, right?

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  26. paddyo' said on June 25, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Am I the only one who read the Slate item Nancy cited as not so much a defense of Sanford as a critique of the vociferous and vituperative “quality” of the condemnations, joke-tellings, etc.? Everything Sanford did was wrong, and he deserves whatever comes to him. But does that make the bottom-feeding level of discourse in the condemnations (present company here accepted, of course!) right?
    Just wondering …

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  27. jeff borden said on June 25, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Except in cases where the behavior interferes with the duties of the office, which is clearly true with Sanford, I’d really like to see our country grow up about the sex lives of politicians.

    Was FDR any less a great president because he may have had a fling? Was Ike any less of a great military commander and excellent president because he allegedly had female company during the time he was in command of the European theater?

    George W. Bush confronted his alcoholism and quit. He appears to have a wonderful marriage to Laura and raised two decent young women. He leads an incredibly healthy lifestyle. He’s clearly very religious. And he was an absolute disaster as president.

    We might take a step in the right direction if both political parties, particularly the GOP, stop acting like they are the exemplars of Biblical morality. I’d rather have a randy political representative who is smart, educated and capable than a pillar of morality who is dumb, unworldly and incompetent.

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  28. baldheadeddork said on June 25, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    @jeff borden: I would say that it’s just as important for politicians to grow up about the sex lives of the country. Until those politicians do mature, I have no problem with pointing and laughing hysterically when they are caught in their hypocrisy. Never underestimate the curative powers of ridicule.

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  29. Catherine said on June 25, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    But jeff b, what about upholding your vows? If someone can’t uphold his personal vows, can we, the electorate, count on him to uphold his public vows?

    And, I think the choice you outline is a false one. We can have the whole package.

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  30. mark said on June 25, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    Careful, Catherine. That sort of absolutist rhetoric will get you accused of trying to dictate acceptance of your arbitrary, religious, sexist, racist, moralizing standards and policies. Nobody is an exemplar of biblical morality so nobody should speak of good or bad conduct.

    Progressive, sophisticated, worldly women know that men are not expected to behave well. Men are expected to not claim they will or should behave well.

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  31. ROgirl said on June 25, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    As usual, Jon Stewart summed things up aptly: just another conservative politician with a liberal penis.

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  32. Rana said on June 25, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    mark, you’re making the classic error of assuming that the only source of morality, or understanding of good or bad conduct, is Biblical.

    One doesn’t have to be a Christian, or even religious, to know that betraying one’s promises, whether personal or civic, isn’t a good thing. Criticizing a public official for imposing his personal religious standards on people who don’t belong to his religious group or subscribe to his religious beliefs is a different animal entirely, especially if that official can’t even manage to uphold them himself.

    It’s bad enough when such persons try to inscribe their personal beliefs into law while living according to those beliefs themselves; when they insist on legalizing a higher morality for non-believers than for themselves, it’s not simply hypocrisy, it’s downright offensive.

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  33. joodyb said on June 25, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    why does anybody care? other than that he is the ceo of a state and South Carolina gets to be a little embarrassed – again?
    I remain more interested in why the State didn’t dog the email thing in December when the whiff of foreign travel on the taxpayer dime curled, but otherwise, the dirt on this guy points to yet another boy with a weird upbringing who seems to have turned out kind of arrested emotionally in league with a little megalomania fueled by his earlier days on Wall Street.
    i’m with jttmo in that my bad day is your nervous breakdown. some of us are better at muddling through.
    that presser was painful, but man, he’s no novice. he shoulda handled it or had it handled.

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