Marked Man

Sanford's downward spiral

By Robert A. George
|  Wednesday, Jul 1, 2009  |  Updated 12:58 AM PDT
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Cheating Politicians

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South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford revealed more details about his relationship with an Argentine woman Tuesday, endangering both his job and his marriage.

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The aftermath of a sex scandal involving a married elected official can play out in different ways depending on the circumstances.  

In some cases, like former President Bill Clinton and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), the philanderer manages to save both his office and his marriage (for whatever reason the wronged spouse chooses to stay).  

In other cases, like former Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D-NY), the politician can lose the job but not the marriage. . 

And then, there's the worst of all possible worlds:  Like former Gov. Jim McGreevey (D-NJ), the politician can lose his office and his spouse. Admittedly, the McGreevey affair was somewhat unusual because of his admission that he was a "gay American."  Given that Dina McGreevey was female, the writing on that wall was pretty much a foreordained conclusion. 

South Carolina Republican Gov. Mark Sanford, however, seems hell-bent on joining McGreevey by simultaneously destroying career and marriage. 

As awful as last week's press conference was admitting to his affair, Sanford went one better (i.e. worse) this week. Last time around, Sanford managed to garner some sympathy by stepping in front of the cameras and delivering a solo cri de coeur, sharing his anguish with thousands of viewers in his state and across the country. While no one could approve of what he had done, he at least seemed so honest that that one would have to be completely heartless not to feel some compassion for the man. 

His wife, Jenny's statement, stern as it was -- and admitting that she had kicked him out of the house two weeks before -- also seemed filled with fair amounts of Christian charity. She made it clear that she was hoping for a reconciliation

This week's Sanford outpouring will make that rapprochement much harder -- if not impossible. 

In an interview with the AP at his Statehouse office, Sanford admitted to "crossing lines" with other women (though evidently not sleeping with them). He also admitted to at least two love getaways to New York (the Big Apple) and the Hamptons over the last year -- contradicting his assertion last week that he only met Maria Belen Chapur a handful of times in her native Argentina. 

Tuesday's admissions created an opening for the South Carolina's  Democratic attorney general to request a review of all of Sanford's travel records (Sanford claims that his New York getaways were paid by himself and that he paid cash for his hotel stays). That provides more ammunition to the growing number of members of his own party calling for Sanford to resign

But, as bad as that is, Sanford may have also put the final nail in his marital coffin too. The AP reports that he considers Chapur his "soul mate", but wants to try to fall back in love with his wife. Oh, geez!  So, after saving his wife from the humiliation involved of having her at his side when he publicly admitted the affair, he now has to present it to her?  How could any woman take back her husband after he's declared that the mother of his four children is not his soul mate -- but he'll try to fall back in love with her any way?  How does he face her now? How does he face his sons?

Sanford thinks he "crossed lines" with other women? He's crossed the line on basic human decency this time. This interview will bring him and his state even more bad headlines.  That will lead to him losing whatever political support he may have had left. And then he he will lose his family too. 

By the time this sad saga his over, one wouldn't be surprised if he also finds that his supposed "soul mate" decides that she wants nothing to do with a man who has clearly lost his own soul.

New York writer Robert A. George blogs at Ragged Thots. Follow him on Twitter.  

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