It was a woman.
GOP, South Carolina, Governor Mark Sanford was on the brink of greatness. As one of the nation’s emerging political stars he was so principled that he turned down federal money for his state, saying it was wrong. Some said he was in the process of inheriting Ron Paul’s massive insurgent army and taking it all the way. And then?
He disappeared last Thursday. When someone asked his wife she answered, “I have no idea where he is.” Some staffers covered for him saying he was alone, writing. A former press aide says he often disappears. Others in his office said he was hiking in the wild. By June 24, Wednesday afternoon, the governor was spotted disembarking from a plane in Atlanta. It had flown in from Buenos Aires.
I disappeared once. I was on staff as special assistant to the president at the White House and decided that the pace was driving me crazy. Without telling a soul I walked out of the White House and slipped into a cinema in downtown Washington. I was gone from the office for exactly two hours. And you would have thought that all hell had broken loose. The world can change in two hours, especially at that level.
So what has the governor been up to? Was he only looking for a moment on Walden’s Pond? Don’t count on it. Was he stealing money? Settling his offshore accounts? No, not the man who turned down billions from the government. We all know what it is, or think we do. We have all known what it had to be all along… a woman.
He must have recoiled in horror as the John and Elizabeth Edwards saga unfolded, with Elizabeth painfully parading her feelings on the national stage while the rest of us squirmed uncomfortably on our couches. He must have thought he could steal away a few minutes of peace.
And the women? Likely a staffer. Why? Because some in his office were covering for him and obviously others not.
So, we are now only minutes away… we will see.
Postscript: Yes, it was a woman. But not a staffer. And, in fact, an e-mail partner from Argentina. And it appears he is still in love because he could not stop himself from talking about her. Those last days and hours in Argentina must have been bittersweet.