Imagine you’re Janet Napolitano, and you’re meeting Mark Sanford…

This morning, like many of you, I read the highly important, yet fairly routine, story about security at the port of Charleston:

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — Project Seahawk, a port security effort developed in South Carolina, is vital to waging the war on terrorism and a model for ports around the nation, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Monday.

Graham, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Gov. Mark Sanford and other leaders had a private briefing on the project during a visit to the Project Seahawk headquarters at the old Charleston Navy Base.

Seahawk, created in 2003 in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, brings together representatives of state, federal and local law enforcement agencies who meet each day in a command center to share and compare information on harbor activity.

But as I read it, all I could think was: Say you’re Janet Napolitano. You’re the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. You’re a serious person, with a serious job, and you’re here for a serious purpose. As you enter the room, visiting dignitary that you are, serious people turn to greet you… and Lindsey Graham introduces you to Mark Sanford.

So… do you have to suppress the urge to crack up? Do you say to yourself, Don’t smile, because then you’ll crack up! But then think, I have to smile, or it will seem unnatural… must make it the right kind of smile… And just when you think you’ve got the situation mastered, suddenly some line from a late-night comic, or something about crying in Argentina, or something else wildly incongruous to the sober subject of Homeland Security pops into your skull, just for a second, and you’re in trouble again…

Is there any way to carry on a normal conversation? And what about that first moment or so of small talk, when the natural thing is to mention something you’ve heard or read about the person you’re meeting, and naturally you think that just last week, this guy was going on and on with the press about his soulmate, going out of his way to cement his reputation as a total flake…

If you’re not a South Carolinian, and have no other context for perceiving this guy, how can you think of anything else upon meeting him? After all, while in South Carolina the headline on this story is, “Graham: Charleston port security project vital,” on CNN’s political ticker, it’s “Graham: Sanford says there’s hope’ for reconciliation with his wife.” Which was actually an element in the S.C. story; but to CNN, that’s all they care about.

Seriously. Follow the links. Previously, he was known nationally at the anti-stimulus guy. Now, he’s far better known (partly because of the same lurid popular culture that gives us obsession over Michael Jackson) as the runaway-to-Argentina guy.

Mind you, my imagining of the scene probably has flaws in it. Since they were both elected governor in the same year, Ms. Napolitano and Mr. Sanford may have already known each other. But still. A solemn, serious moment with this underlying sense of total absurdity.

That’s the way I imagine it, anyway. And if it didn’t happen that way this time, there are going to be plenty of times in which an important visitor keeps thinking, Here I am with the famous runaway governor! He actually runs this state (People from out of state wouldn’t know how insignificant the office of governor actually is here)! How weird the people of South Carolina must be!

Karen Floyd thinks it’s over. The party censures him and it’s over. Fat chance. As several people no doubt pointed out during that four-hour conference call, every minute that this guy is still governor, still going through the motions representing our state to the world, is a gold-plated gift to the Democrats in next year’s election.

No wonder the GOP executive committee was so divided:

Twenty-two committee members voted for a reprimand, 10 called for his resignation, while nine voted to support the governor.

7 thoughts on “Imagine you’re Janet Napolitano, and you’re meeting Mark Sanford…

  1. Lee Muller

    I would be thinking, “How did this incompetent woman get to be governor, much less head of Homeland Security?”

  2. SGMret

    So, Janet “Human made disaster” Napolitano meets Mark “Human disaster” Sanford… Sounds like a WWF match up on pay-per-view.

    She’s got no room to snicker behind his back about anything unless she has a well developed sense of irony. Unfortunately for all of us, I’m sure she takes herself way too seriously, even to the point of believing her own propaganda. And, unlike Sanford, she’s actually dangerous.

  3. SGMret

    Well, I guess I’d better “man up” and correctly quote Ms. Napolitano before somebody starts flaming about it: I should have called her “Janet ‘Man-caused Disaster’ Napolitano.”

    (BTW, that’s not very PC, Ms. Napolitano: “MAN-caused”! If you ask me, that’s a pretty sexist comment. “Human-caused” is much less offensive.)

    Mark Sanford is still a “Human Disaster,” though.

  4. SGMret

    You say that only because you don’t have to worry about burka wearing suicide bombers at the State Farmer’s Market or the local Pizza Hut.

    From where I’m at, 8 times zones ahead of you, it’s definitely an “equal-opportunity” problem.

  5. Lee Muller

    Yes, those 11-year-old boys being trained in Pakistan can blow up a market just as well as a 30-year old Taliban leader.

    Brad, since you like movies, view “The Battle for Algiers”.


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