I confess to a (now faded) affinity for Mark Sanford. As someone who was born in South Carolina and spent much time there over the years, I have a personal connection to the state. As a fiscal conservative, I was very pleased at the governor’s response to the stimulus monies, etc, and desired that Governor Rounds would be so bold. Now, as all the world knows, Sanford has shown himself not only flawed, but strangely proud of those flaws. As has been noted by some, if he were a French minister of state, all would be well (at least in the strangely defined world of French political and personal affairs). However, Sanford is not a French minister and all is not well.
Besides the emotional burden which he has packed for his wife and sons (which one does not was to diminish in any regard by comparison) Mark Sanford has single-handedly snatched defeat from the jaws of possible political victory in 2012 or beyond. His philandering, I would propose, is not the root problem so much as the symptom. His behavior would appear to be the outgrowth of his thinking (some might say lack of thinking) as an individual with its corresponding selfishness and, yes, narcissism. While it is likely that his wife, children, friends, constituents and all others who have been hurt by his thoughtlessness will find it hard (if not impossible in some cases) to move past the damage he has caused, he seems to currently believe that it is not only possible to simply keep going in his current position as governor, but desirable.
I am hardly the first, nor will I be the last, to ask that Governor Sanford step down. He has abused his office in a way not unlike Bill Clinton in that he has not only broken whatever vows he might have made to his wife, but then felt compelled to lie about it, before finally telling the truth. I realize that none of us is perfect, elected officials included, but Sanford has moved from the ranks of the imperfect but striving to the realm of the imperfect and proud of it. His continued residence in the governor’s mansion is discgraceful–no matter how much good he might do–I find it difficult to believe that he will ever be more than an easy target for unfortunately well-founded mockery and derision.