Over the weekend, I got a text from my youngest daughter, who studies and works in Charleston. She said Mark Sanford and María Belén Chapur were, at that moment, in the place where she works. (I later asked how she knew that’s who it was, because I wouldn’t know the ex-governor’s friend if I saw her. She says she looked on Google Images while they were in front of her.)
I wrote back, “First Lady Gaga; now this.” (Long story, involving a New York restaurant where my daughter worked one summer.)
Then I didn’t think about it any more until I read this at the WSJ site this morning:
Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford looked like a dead politician walking after an affair, a nasty divorce and allegations of using taxpayer funds to pay for his indiscretions.
But that was three years ago. Since then, Mr. Sanford has cleared his name, done his penance and is looking for a second chance from voters. He’s running for his old House seat in Tuesday’s special election in South Carolina’s first congressional district, which became vacant when Tim Scott was appointed to the Senate…
And I find myself asking once again, in what way has he cleared his name? More to the point, what “penance” has he done?
Really, I’d just like an example. And until someone comes up with one, I’d appreciate people not using the term so loosely.
What has he given up, aside from his wife and family? And it seems to me Jenny made that decision, not him.
He has famously made multiple “apology” tours, but for that to be penance, contrition must be involved. And what has he indicated he is sorry for? Nothing, that I can tell. He has simply put the onus on us — and more recently, particularly on the voters of the 1st Congressional District — to forgive him. As though it were all up to us, not him.
For his part, he continues on his own unflappable way, seemingly unfazed by it all. When I was at The State, the spellchecker on the version of Word we used kept trying to change his name to “Sangfroid.” And it has always seemed to fit. There’s no rending of garments or heaping of ashes with this guy. Sure, we saw tears the day of the famous confession, but a week later he was conducting phenomenally narcissistic interviews about his “soulmate.”
Which frankly, was none of my business. Nor is his private life today, except for the fact that he keeps publicly asking the world to forgive him for it. Even though I still don’t know what part he is sorry for.
For me, the things I can’t forgive are the public policy sins. The fact that he accomplished nothing in his previous six years in Congress, and little more in eight years as governor, thanks to his penchant for alienating his fellow Republicans in the General Assembly. I have trouble getting over his being, by the end, the only governor refusing the stimulus money that South Carolinians would be just as much on the hook for as everyone else in the country.
He has indicated no remorse for any of those far more relevant (for someone running for public office) sins. In fact, he’s still bragging about the stimulus thing.
The bottom line is, I just don’t know what it is about Mark Sanford that has changed since June 2009. And I find it odd that other people think anything is different.