Survivor, Minnesota Style

albania_bunkersDay Three of bunkering down.  Or is it Day Four?   I don’t know any more.  The days are long, and so bloody hot.  I don’t know how long I will survive down here with just my bottle of ice water at my side.  Plus, my two intrepid kittehs who keep stern watch over me.  Granted, Shadow just went to brave the hot upstairs, but he’ll be back.  I hope….Whew!  He made it back.  I feel better with my two miniature panthers by my side.  I have no food (except in the fridge.  Today was shopping day.  I cranked the AC up high in the car, and I almost cried when I reached Fresh & Natural.  I never thought AC could feel so good.  But I digress, as usual), no bedding (except for the papasan which is nice, but a bit uncomfortable as it’s made of wood), and I’ve been lost for days (days, days, days).

I’m fading fast.  I don’t know how much longer I will last.  Oh, god, why hast thou forsaken me?  Tell my parents, my brother, and my friends that I love them.  My cats know that already.

Hah!  That was fun to write, even if it’s totally untrue.  Well, not totally because I am in the basement with my cats by my side and only a bottle of iced water at hand (oh, and a dozen grapes), but that’s by choice.  I can walk upstairs, open my fridge, and get whatever I want to eat.  I’m settling into my basement.  Can I say, Gene Robinson is H-A-W-T?  Sorry.  I’m listening to Keith’s show, and Gene Robinson is on it talking about Sanford because Robinson is from South Carolina, and he’s lived in Buenos Aires.  Perfect!

Which is a nice segue into the tale of the missing governor.

As most of you know by now, Governor Sanford was in Argentina.  When he returned, he said he’d been alone.  Then, it turns out this wasn’t true.  He had a mistress who was married with two kids.  Then, he gave a presser.

Now, before we get to the presser, I want to comment on my immediate reaction to hearing the news.  It as, “Shit, what an idiot I am for giving this guy the benefit of the doubt.”  I was pissed because I had gone easy on him under assumption that I could give him hell after it was discovered what happened to him.  It was about me, you see.  I felt like a grade A jackass, and I didn’t much like it.  I mean, how stupid and naive could I be to believe that it was anything other than sex (an affair), drugs (a bender) or money (took the stimulus and ran!)?  That’s the script with these politicians, and they rarely deviate from it.  I was pretty pissed that I wasted an ounce of sympathy on this guy.  Until his presser.

He was contrite.  He was rambling.  He was teary-eyed.  He apologized to everyone (except for non-believers and teh gayz, but still) for letting them down.  His wife and children were not with him (thank god.  I HATE when the wife is up there with a grin stretched tightly across her face, fire in her eyes), and he went into a detailed account of, well, I’m not entirely sure because as I said, he was rambling.  He mentioned the Appalachian Trail.  He mentioned the bubble that is politics.  He mentioned many things before he got down to brass tacks.   He was having an affair with a married woman.  They met (unclear how, maybe online) eight years ago.  They emailed back and forth about their problems in their respective marriages. She lives in Argentina.  Their affair started a year ago.  Sanford’s wife found out five months ago.  Two weeks ago, she asked him to leave the house.  That’s why she didn’t know where he was this past weekend.

Ok.  I can buy all that.  As I said earlier, it’s pretty trite and banal, but it’s real.  However, it’s the newest addition that I don’t get.  Sanford said he flew down to Argentina to break things off.  Um, so he was still carrying on with this woman while after his wife found out?  What a brick of a man.  Plus, he’s flown to Argentina before, on state dime.  In fact, this time, he drove a state vehicle to the airport and abandoned it.

We haven’t even reached the really irresponsible part yet.  Look.  It was clear from Sanford’s presser that he was being torn apart by his affair.  From the emails he sent his lover, he was in love with her, or at least deeply infatuated.  I don’t particularly care about his affair except in the context that he is one of those who went after Clinton after Clinton’s affair was exposed.  In addition, Sanford opposes gay marriage.  Yes, he’s one of those traditional family values guys who apparently can’t follow his own strictures.   He asked for privacy for his wife and kids, and I think he should get it.  They do not need the press hounding them relentlessly, nor do they deserve it.

Getting back to sacred marriage vows.  I don’t believe marriage is easy.  If I did, I would have tried it once or twice.  In fact, because I do believe marriage should be a lifetime thing, I have decided not to engage in it, pardon the pun.  However, I also know that we are all human.  We connect with different people on different levels, and that’s why I am not strictly monogamous.  It puts a lot of strain on a relationship to require the other person to be your everything.  I think it’s one reason we keep friends longer than we do lovers–we don’t demand as much from our friends.

So.  Back to Sanford.  The affair is none of my business.  The only part of it that really pissed me off is how Sanford kept bringing up “God’s Law” and the fact that he apologized to believers.  Us immoral nonbelievers, though?  Fuck us, apparently.  Oh, and his mention of his spiritual advisor also bothered me.  Who gives a fuck?  It’s the hypocritical aspect of it that bothers me, otherwise, his sex life is none of my business–nor do I want it to be.  Some on the right are saying that we on the left are meddling into Sanford’s private life (hahahahahaha, talk about the proverbial pot calling the kettle black) and that we should just leave the poor man aloooooone, but here is the crux of the matter.  If Mark Sanford had handed over the reins to his lieutenant governor and said, “Look , I need some time to think.  You’re in charge,” this wouldn’t have happened.  If he had kept in regular contact with his staff, this wouldn’t have happened.  Hell, if he’d called his wife (yes, I know that’s not very seemly when he’s boinking his mistress), then this wouldn’t have happened.  He’s the governor of a state, for crying out loud.  He can’t just take off whenever he feels like it without telling anyone.  That is so astoundingly irresponsible, it (almost) boggles my mind.  He refused to say whether he’d resign as governor, and that is where my sympathy stops.

John Cole of BJ says he likes how Sanford manned up and apologized.  Sanford didn’t make excuses.  True.  But neither did he say he’d resign.  On the other hand, many commenters are saying that Sanford is a complete asshole who is lying or trying to slide by as best as possible.  I think there is some of that, too.  I think Steve Benen of Washington Monthly put it best in his entry, Mixed Emotions.  For god’s sake, Benen.  I wish you’d put your entries on separate pages to make linking easier.  He says that while he thinks Sanford manned up, he (Sanford) is a big, fat hypocrite–and a bad governor to boot.

In the end, I do feel some empathy for Sanford because he does seem tormented by his affair.  However, in this case, empathy does not mean that he should be let off the hook.  He needs to resign, and any aspirations he has to run for president in 2012 should be permanently over.  This is the one thing that niggles at me–I have a hunch that even this spectacularly-loony adventure will not derail his presidential hopes because Republicans don’t seem inclined to force out wandering Republicans, even while they simultaneously attack straying Democrats.

By the way, I am now listening to Rachel, and she brings up a good point.  When Sanford arrived back in Atlanta, he made a statement that he was alone in Argentina.  Gina Smith (the reporter whom Sanford kept addressing, even though she wasn’t at the presser) let it be known to his people that The State (her paper) had steamy emails sent to and from the governor to his mistress, and they were going to publish the emails.  So, it’s plausible that he was forced to admit the affair because he knew the emails were going to be in the paper, anyway.   Now, Gina is talking about the sit-down she had with him when he first returned.  He totally meant to lie his way through it.  It was the emails that forced him to admit it.

I don’t know.  At this point, I don’t particularly care.  I just want him to resign and to not be a candidate for the 2012 election.  His rank irresponsibility as governor is inexcusable.  Yes, we, the public get to pass judgement on his behavior that affects his constituents.  The affair?  That’s between him and his wife.

11 Responses to Survivor, Minnesota Style

  1. what an idiot I am for giving this guy the benefit of the doubt

    Minna, it was very good of you to express concern when it was possible, for all anyone knew, that he had been eaten by a bear or something in the Appalachians. You reserved judgment, and now you can give him hell as you predicted, so there’s no cause for feeling foolish. I’ve said before that if something tragic had happened to the pr*ck, a lot of his more vocal critics would probably feel ashamed. Not that I’m telling you how to feel, but there’s no cause I can see for you to feel that way.

  2. His wife and children were not with him

    I tend to agree with those at BJ and elsewhere who believe that this fact reflects more credit on Sanford’s wife than it does him. Still, maybe he had enough class not to ask her. Then again, given Sanford’s public behavior, I wouldn’t expect class from him.

  3. Greg, I still have mixed feelings about him. The thing about being duped, that’s just ego talking. I agree that it’s probably his wife who declined to stand by her man. Good for her. I think I’ll stop reading about this debacle, though, because the one-sidedness of many commenters at BJ and elsewhere (no matter what the side) is getting me down.

  4. Oh yes, the thread on BJ is raging about this. I’m in the camp that believes this is much more about being caught and trying to find a way to salvage his career than about honesty. There were honest emotions laid bare, of course. But it reeked of fessing up to the affair to lay to rest the remainder of the story – abandoning his state, lying to everyone, and just generally being an immature/unstable person who still thinks he should be given great responsibilities. Can you imagine that this idiot wants to run for President?

    It reflects well on you that your instinct is to give the benefit of the doubt. Don’t beat yourself up for that, or you will become a cynical, angry person like me!

  5. “The affair? That’s between him and his wife.”

    I respectfully disagree for those who campaign on family values platforms, voted for DOMA, voted to impeach Clinton, and otherwise are the first to condemn other politicians for similar failings.

    I would like the absurd puritanical morality play that we live here in America to end, but I’m not disarming unilaterally. If I have to play by Sanford’s rules, so does he.

  6. I made comments in your previous post about my feelings concerning Sanford’s weird absence, and mental health. But I’m a married person who is rankled by his hypocrisy. Personally, I think his wife, having kicked him out a week before his ‘vacation,’ is showing consistency and mental stability by NOT appearing with him.

    My marriage isn’t what the self-appointed moralists in this country would point to as an ideal. I knew it was a serious and binding contract between two people to live together for the rest of their lives, and demonstrate that commitment to love and support each other. Besides, after planning even my simple wedding, I hope I never have to get married again!

    But still, although we are in it together for good or bad, it’s OUR version. Not for producing offspring – we both agree, no kids. Not even necessarily for sexual exclusivity, but because of the contract between us, a certain level of responsibility and transparency is required for this freedom. That’s not something that many people would endorse as part of their ideal marriage, but they’re not in THIS marriage. Maybe it’s obvious then, that I fully support gay marriage.

    Minna, no reason for you to beat yourself up about trying to take the high road until there was a full story on this. I respect you for that.

    Sanford showed a complete lack of responsibility to his constituents, his staff, his family, his friends by doing this. I agree, gex, that it was immature. I also think that it may indicate mental illness. I agree that his press conference indicated that he hadn’t really considered resigning. I don’t think he’s thinking clearly at all right now. If he doesn’t resign, he should be made to step down. He cannot even manage his own life right now, much less his state.

  7. gex, you are not completely cynical, or you wouldn’t be so angry. Believe me. I get angry because I still can’t believe what people will or won’t do.

    I think you misunderstood my “The affair is between him and his wife” remark. The actual affair, I don’t give a shit about. His hypocrisy and the way he tried to get Clinton impeached is something that matters to me. The fact that he would say that teh gayz are a threat to society is appalling and abhorrent. That is why I said on BJ that if he and the right continue to try to strong-arm their “family values” crap down our throats, then I will have no compunction about bringing up this sad and rather trite affair. In that contest, it matters. The affair itself? Not so much.

    Choolie, you say what my best friend always says about her marriage. It works for her and her husband, and that’s all that matters. That’s what pisses me off the most about the “family values” type: they want to enforce their values on everyone else, even when they can’t follow said values themselves. Then, they fling out “God’s law” and shit like that, like it matters.

    On this, I agree with gex. He and his ilk get no quarters on the affairs issue since they are the ones pushing it so heavily. In addition, whatever sympathy I feel for him as a person is totally overshadowed by the disgust I feel for him trying to hold on to his political career. Apparently, today, he says he has no intention of resigning. More details about his affair is coming out, including that his seeing his mistress wasn’t as infrequent as he tried to claim.

  8. What I mean by the affair being our business and that we all have to play by his rules, is that jerks like him claim that this kind of immoral behavior is destroying America when it comes to the gays.

    So, playing by his rules, the affair is *everyone’s* concern. Why does he hate America?

  9. Ah. I get it, gex. By the way, you made me laugh with the last line. It’s so perfect to tack onto the end of anything, isn’t it?

    “You’re for socialized healthcare? Why do you hate America?”

    Yeah. I can see your point. I just don’t want the focus on his affair to cloud the fact that the man was fucking derelict on his duty. I’m afraid he’s going to get away with this because when focusing on affairs, the Republicans have brass balls. They will never resign because of an affair unless they are forced to because of illegal activities (Foley and his underage page, for example). I want this guy out of office, some for his own good, but mostly for the good of his state.

    Then again, I hear his lieutenant is a dipshit, too, so there you go.

  10. So, playing by his rules, the affair is *everyone’s* concern.

    I don’t care. I don’t want to play by his rules. The problem is the moralizing, not the . . . okay, the affair is a problem, but it isn’t my problem, no matter who it is.

    I’m in the camp that believes this is much more about being caught and trying to find a way to salvage his career than about honesty. There were honest emotions laid bare, of course. But it reeked of fessing up to the affair to lay to rest the remainder of the story – abandoning his state, lying to everyone, and just generally being an immature/unstable person who still thinks he should be given great responsibilities. Can you imagine that this idiot wants to run for President?

    I think you’re misreading it. This was both honest emotion, and fessing up because he was caught. What I’m certain of is that this was, at least subconsciously, an attempt to get caught. I can come up with a number of different motives for why he couldn’t keep it secret any longer, and any one of them would do. I’m sorry, you don’t disappear to Argentina for a week unannounced without, on some level, realizing that everything is going to come out.

    Based upon his press conference, and the e-mails, I think he really does have the problem of loving both women. In its own way, that’s as cruel a closet to be in as being gay. I don’t think that this was John Ensign, or David Vitter, or Eliot Spitzer just enjoying some nookie on the side.

    Should he have stayed faithful? Absolutely. I still have sympathy for him in this situation. He should, without question, resign, because he did some horribly irresponsible professional things along the way, even before a week ago. I don’t envy him trying to resolve this, though.

  11. J.Michael, you raise several good points. However, I am not sure that he actually loves his wife. I wrote more on that today. Actually, I don’t particularly care if he was faithful or not. I think it’s really, really, really, difficult to be with just one person. In addition, with the fact that he planned this trip ahead of time and only cut it short because he handled it so ineptly, I think he really convinced himself that he could have his cake and eat it, too. As I wrote today, I feel some sympathy for him, the man. Him the pol, though, has got to go.