Two Reasons Why Mark Sanford’s Political Career Is Now Dead

The announcement by South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford that the “mystery” about his whereabouts stemmed from him being in Argentina conducting an extramarital affair will likely end his political career — and not just because he had an affair. There are two other specific factors that will make him a dream for any Democrat at any level to run against at any point in his life:

1. He was away having his fling on Father’s Day. His emotional press conference where he talked about letting his family down didn’t note the timing. One bad choice of several on his part.

2. He was a key figure in saying he would reject the stimulus money and was basically forced to accept it. Sanford was praised among some GOPers for originally saying he would reject the money on principle. But here, again, the affair now puts his assertion in the worst possible light:

The stimulus money would have filtered down to people who needed it — whether homeowners battling foreclosure, or funding that touched on families and kids. And where did Sanford go? Not to Georgia…Florida….or even Oregon. He hopped on a plane to Argentina — a hugely-costly airfare…money spent at a time when many residents of his state were wondering how they would survive, and he was a key Republican saying he would reject on principle money that might have helped them.

A blogger at the Daily Kos wonders if stimulus money may have indirectly paid for his trip to see his mistress — if so, the money would have been put to use for a form of stimulus, to be sure. But the accuracy of that remains to be seen.

The bottom line is that imagery counts in politics and it’s hard to see Sanford having any kind of elected political future in his state or the nation due to the dual images of running off to Argentina for a fling and being there on Father’s Day and originally nixing stimulus money for residents of his state who needed it and then spending a bundle to fly to Argentina.

And if it was somehow not his own money? Then he’ll be moving to a new address real soon.

The one Republican who seems to be pristine (as other top potential candidates for 2012 get bad publicity, put their foots in their mouths or battle late night comedians) is former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Sometimes a lower profile is better.

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  • AustinRoth

    I am SO confused. I thought a politician's private life was just that; private and having nothing to do with his political life. That we in America had an unenlightened and unhealthy obsession about sex and marital affairs, and that we need to be more like the French.

    That having sex with others while in office just has zero being on being a good leader. That it is not hypocritical to lie about affairs, even under oath. Heck, lying under oath about affairs is OK, in fact.

    I swear I heard that somewhere.

  • ChrisWWW

    I agree Sanford's private life should be private, and having an affair should not disqualify you from office (assuming he didn't use public money, or breach the public trust in some other way in pursuing the affair). But since he is a public opponent of gay marriage and other gay rights, Sanford has forfeited any moral claim that we should just ignore his private conduct.

  • pacatrue

    I agree that it isn't having an affair which bugs me. (In other comment trails, I've “defended” Ensign for instance). What does appear to bug me is the almost dereliction of duty in order to go have this affair.

  • AustinRoth

    ChrisWWW – I actually agree he deserves to be toast. I am just railing against the non-stop double standards toward politician's peccadilloes, particularly from the Left.

  • shannonlee

    Hmm…well…it isn't about sex. It is about hypocrisy. If people found out that Rep Barney Frank was having sex with a man, no one would care. Now if Barney had based his entire career fighting against gay rights, well then that would be a different story.

    Sanford was Mr. Moral Majority. A leader in the social conservative movement. Someone who took pride in fighting against “science” by trying to block research funding to his own state.

    Bye Bye Sanford.

  • StockBoySF

    I agree that a politician's private life should be private. But wouldn't Republicans, whose base is the religious right who espouses family values be seen as hypocrites?

    How can the GOP fight for family values, especially claiming the sanctity of marriage (to the extent of taking away marriage roghts of others) when their own leader (as a gov. and mentioned as a potential prez. nominee in 2012) not believe in those values themselves? Doesn't give the GOP much credibility.

    At any rate, this is a trying time for Sanford and his family. I won't comment on whether he should step down as SC, that's for South Carolinians to decide. But I do wish him and his family the best.

    Now back to the dirt…. I want to know about this mistress…. Did he meet her online? :) The only thing to make this story juicier would be if he met her online and flew down to Argentina to meet her. :)

  • StockBoySF

    ^ I wrote my above comment while others were writing theirs. I see some of my points were covered. Didn't mean to duplicate- comments just crossed.

  • FrequentPoster

    People are always going to be interested in the private lives of public figures. It shouldn't be a political issue, and I don't think it would be if the Republicans hadn't built their political identity on “family values” and the “sanctity of marriage.” Blatant hypocrisy is ALWAYS a political issue. The day it isn't a political issue is the day we really have to worry.

  • AustinRoth

    So, if Clinton had run in part on being a supporter of women's rights, then he would have been critisized for taking advantage of his office with a young intern? Hmmm. Nope. don't buy it.

    I guess the real message is if you are a Democrat, you are saying morals do not matter, so you can screw anything that moves, anytime, anyplace, lie about it to your wife, to your family, to the country, to the courts, to Congress, to the press, and you have not violated the trust of the voters.

    Man, that is SO DAMN COOL! I think I am going to have to become a Democrat just for those fringe benefits!

  • FrequentPoster

    AustinRoth, it must drive you crazy with jealousy to see a popular Democratic president who's had one marriage to a woman he obviously loves deeply, and two beautiful daughters. Meanwhile, the crazy Bible-flingin' Baptists who run the Republican Party just happen to have the nation's highest divorce rates. If you want family values, come over to our side! Ha ha ha ha!

  • archangel

    Hi, Dr. E. here,

    I'm not Mom, just an Assistant Editor at TMV with a reminder to commenters… Please dont shoot the messenger… but also, please do read or reread the TMV comment policy if in doubt about our rules and policies for civil commenting. Our commenters are asked
    –to stick to the basic topic in the article,
    –with no ad hominen attacks on the writer or other commenters.
    –This includes no high-jacking of the thread, no vulgarities, and no posting of long articles in respons…
    –however you are welcome to leave links to those articles in comments as usual.

    You are welcome to debate, as we say in USAF, flying with pure blue lightning… which doesnt mean using 'blue language,' but rather means to fly with all the expertise in you. Go for it.


    Assistant Editor and Columnist at The Moderate Voice

  • tidbits

    If our political leaders are getting laid this much, shouldn't they be a little more relaxed and a little less uptight?

    Maybe if they'd get the hell out our private lives, we'd be a little less concerned about theirs. Serious point here. Could it be that there is a relationship between politicians wanting to tell citizens what to do in their private lives and citizens taking pleasure in the private failings of those leaders? Make no mistake. This finger points at both sides, the religious “let's legislate our version of the Bible” right and the PC “let's legislate our version of what modern culture should be” left.

  • checkersspeech

    The good new for the Republican Party: At least this one was with a WOMAN! Ha ha ha ha haaaaa!!!!

    But yeah, how these politicians think they can have an affair without anybody being nosy …

    Like John Edwards: Did he not realize that while he's RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT, that *everybody* would be actively trying to find dirt on him?

    Sheesh. These are the numbskulls that think they're fit to tell us what to do.

  • FrequentPoster

    I do think all of this winds up helping Romney, but he's going to face a huge obstacle within the Republican Party: his religion. Huckabee was, in reality, a last-minute Baptist evangelical spoiler. He took out Romney, and that cleared the way for McCain. The same thing will happen in 2012, so if I were the Repubs I'd be looking for another “third guy” to step into the rubble and Romney and Huckabee (or some other Baptist) destroy each other.

  • kathykattenburg

    I guess the real message is if you are a Democrat, you are saying morals do not matter, so you can screw anything that moves, anytime, anyplace, lie about it to your wife, to your family, to the country, to the courts, to Congress, to the press, and you have not violated the trust of the voters.


    Who is saying “morals don't matter”? Need I remind you that Bill Clinton was impeached, and nearly convicted and thrown out of office?

    Who is saying “morals don't matter”? Need I remind you that John Edwards was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination until it came out that he had been having an affair — one that produced a child, to boot — and that after that came out, his entire political career in addition to presidential hopes, were ruined?

    And rightfully so, but I'm just asking, need I remind you?

  • AustinRoth

    FP – I assume you meant 'Republican President', and were referring to George W. Bush!

  • AustinRoth

    Dr E – I hope you were not referring to my use of the word 'screw' or 'damn'. This is not a web site for grade schoolers.

  • lurxst

    Hmm..reading one of Sanford's emails to his mistress on The State

    PG-13 at best, but full of heartache and longing. I wish the hypocrite the best. I feel bad for his wife but its their business to figure out. Horribly embarrassing, not that he is a man and had desire for another woman, but that he was stupid enough, in the modern day, to abandon his responsibilities, possibly abuse state funds and subject his staff and his family to the degradation of covering for him.

  • Jim_Satterfield

    The whole thing seems pretty sad to me. I couldn't care less if someone from either party has an affair but I do feel bad for their family when it comes to something like this.

  • FrequentPoster

    Blame it on the tango!

  • archangel

    >>>>>Dr E – I hope you were not referring to my use of the word 'screw' or 'damn'…>>>

    you're fine Austin.
    thanks for asking


  • ThurmanHart

    I honestly don't think either the timing of his disappearance or the stimulus fiasco will impact his political future. But his disappearance, for any reason, without anyone knowing where to reach him is a huge issue – not his staff, not his family, not the LT. Gov. knew where to reach him. This was not a case of the Gov. taking some time off where he could be recalled by a quick phone call.

    This is dereliction of duty. Period.

  • D. E.Rodriguez

    “I guess the real message is if you are a Democrat, you are saying morals do not matter, so you can “screw anything that moves, anytime, anyplace, lie about it to your wife, to your family, to the country, to the courts, to Congress, to the press, and you have not violated the trust of the voters.”

    No, the real message is that Democrats do “screw anything that moves, anytime, anyplace, lie about it to your wife, to your family, to the country, to the courts, to Congress, to the press,”, juts like Republicans, but they do not go masquerading as the Party of Moral values, of Family values, of holier-than thou.

  • keelaay

    I don't follow the accusations above that those speaking against Gov. Sanford's actions are simply hypocritical Democrats. My guess is that Gov Sanford will lose the support of South Carolina Republicans and Democrats alike because he recklessly abandoned his office and lied to his staff about his whereabouts in order to travel to Argentina over Father's Day weekend due to an extra-marital affair. That's far from some hypocritical moral judgment about adultery, but is a natural reaction to Gov. Sanford's bizarre failing of the duties of his office. (I won't argue that the same can't indeed be said about President Clinton's actions…) What that has to do with Democrats (or Republicans) is beyond me. Prayers for his family… its a terribly sad story

  • Rambie

    It's not the affair AR, it's the hypocrisy.

  • FrequentPoster

    Isn't it fun to see how the Republicans have to be told over and over that hypocrisy is the problem? Part of me wants them to wise up, but another part of me wants them not to!

  • sparkles43

    This is a lot more than just an affair. This man was derelict in his duties for 7 days. He lied to his staff on his where abouts. No one could contact him. He left the country without telling anyone. What if there had been a state emergency? He should at least of told a staff person and the Lt Gov he was out of the country. There is no excuse for this. Now there is question he used state money to visit Argentina a couple of times for his affair. This man should be impeached.

  • AustinRoth

    Oooh, it is not the actions that count, it is if there is hypocrisy. So, if Democrats campaign on 'cleaning up government', but then have Senators and Congressman with unsavory ties to lobbyists, sweetheart deals on real estate deals and loans, force companies to hire their relatives, send huge amounts of government spending to companies that contribute to them, etc., I can except rightous condemnation of THOSE actions from the Left?

    You are all correct, btw. It is the hypocrisy. That has been my point from my first post on this thread. The irony is you all fail to see where the hypocrisy is coming from, especially given I never defended his actions, and said that he deserves to be toast. You all just can't stand having the mirror held up to yourselves on the Left's double standrds and own hypocrisy, because in your blindness, most of you truly fail to see it even exists.

    To this particular instance, and Clinton as well for that matter, Jim put it best. It is a shame for the family more than anything. These are difficult enough situations for them to deal with, but when it becomes national news, it is just that much harder.

  • AustinRoth

    Dr. E – thanks for remembering my daughter.

    Physically, well, it is a slow road to recovery, and nothing can change that. Mentally she is in a great place, which makes us very proud of her.

    Now we wait for the military medical board discharge process to run its course before she can come home (likely until September).

  • AustinRoth

    Oops, forgot to add, re: Sanford – if indeed he used State money to fund trips to Argentina to visit his mistress, he deserves more than impeachment. He should be brought up on mis-use of funds and theft by misappropriation charges.

    I, unlike many Democrats, do not believe that having an affair means you can break the law and it is OK. :)

  • D. E.Rodriguez

    Tony Perkins of “moral values/family values”:

    “I think there is somewhat of an identity crisis in the Republican Party. Are they going to be a party that attracts values voters, and are they going to be the party that lives by those values?”

    I thought “they” already were

  • archangel

    We will keep all of you on the prayer road; and that your girl's attitude is in a great place… that is the penultimate best! No doubt apple doesnt fall far from the tree.

    thank you AR,

  • hecheated

    It's the affair.

  • Rambie

    “…I never defended his actions, and said that he deserves to be toast. You all just can't stand having the mirror held up to yourselves on the Left's double standrds and own hypocrisy…”

    I never said you did defend him.

    What double-standards? This thread has nothing to do with this thread. This isn't about any Democrat or any other Republican than Gov Sanford and his own personal actions. Let's not go off on tangents but just to cover your examples:

    – Clinton didn't run on a family-values campaign. It wasn't the BJs in the office it was the lying, not that any of us believed him for a second, that lost respect in my eyes at least.

    – This thread isn't about “unsavory ties to lobbyists” or “sweetheart deals” to friends. Both of which I do oppose BTW no matter the party affiliation.

    On a personal note: AR, I'm glad to hear your daughter is recovering. I'm glad to hear it's not getting her down, having a good mental outlook helps recovery.

  • Leonidas

    He got my vote for being a fiscal conservative, something he still has. He probably wont have the sipport needed to make a presidential or Vice Presidental run now, I agree, because too many people confuse being a good husband with being a good executive. The two don't always go hand in hand. Clinton was a cheater, bu7t did a pretty good job, Carter was faithful and did a rotten one. I cast my vote for the good exectutive not the good husband. I'll be casting it again for him if he runs for office, I like his fiscal conservatism. I feel sorry for his wife and kids, but thats better than feeling sorry for everyone's kids if we continue to elect public officials that burden then with heaps of new debt.

  • AustinRoth

    Leo – if it turns out he spent State money for trips to visit Argentina to see his mistress (as seems at this moment more likely than not), will you still support him?

    I wouldn't. I would support criminal charges.

  • Leonidas

    If it turns out he spent State money for trips to visit Argentina to see his mistress I would condemn the act, I'd probably still support him though as a couple thousand dollars does not outweigh the benefit of having a fiscal conservative in the Governor's office who can try to protect us from millions of dollars of more government spending.

    Now if it turns out that he went for legitimate reasons on the tax payer dollar and saw his mistress when his schedule was not filled with official business, *shrug* Thats his personal business and not mine.

  • drewrichards

    First and foremost,

    Governor Sanford BROKE the “Chain of Command” in my state (SC) leaving us with NO immediate response capability in the event of an emergency. For this action and this action ALONE he should be impeached! I don't care that his wife didn't know where he was or not. I don't care he had an affair. I do care that his staff either covered for him or did not know how to reach him and he had not released power of authorization to the Lt. Governor as ANY Governor would have if they were going incommunicado.

    Spin the rest of the story anyway you want but dereliction of duty makes him a dangerous liability to our state.

    Now should he be attacked publicly?

    For 15 years Gov. Sanford presented himself as a rabid family values candidate and has now been caught in dereliction of duty due to his INFIDELITY!

    Are we not to point out the hypocrisy of this man's actions and beliefs?

    Remember this man publicly demanded Clinton resign for his “infidelity” with Lewinsky.
    At least Clinton never disappeared and left us with no chain of command.

    I believe you should rethink your post because it smells of Republican hand wringing more than a true cognitive thought on the proper response to this issue.

  • Leonidas

    I answered the above post on one of the other threads, but I'll reply in short form here.

    Sanford broke no laws. See the NPR piece here:

    On the Clinton impeachment, Sanford was concerned about the lying under oath part, ie breaking a law:

    “The issue of lying is probably the biggest harm, if you will, to the system of Democratic government, representatives government, because it undermines trust. And if you undermine trust in our system, you undermine everything.” [Sanford on Clinton, CNN, 2/16/99]

    I think drewrichards should rething his own cognition.

  • AustinRoth

    leo – so, even if he broke the law, you will still support him?

    Now THAT is partisanship at its very worst, and why democratic governments become corrupt over time.

  • PolyTicks21

    The reason guys like Sanford get raked over the coals when they get busted cheating on their wives is becuase they run their campaigns on “GOOD CHRISTIAN VALUES” and completely pan anyone who isn't as “pure as them” … Sanford is a hypocrite and needs to resign.

    The difference with the democrats is that they don't vehemently play the values card… so it's a bit easier to forgive someone who's not pretending to have moral high ground when they get caught being human… get it?

  • Leonidas


    You asked:

    ” leo – so, even if he broke the law, you will still support him? “

    then you accuse:

    ” Now THAT is partisanship at its very worst, and why democratic governments become corrupt over time.”

    but you didn't read what I wrote apparently when I said:

    ” I don't care what happens in other people's bedrooms as long as no laws are broken”.

    Reading is fundamental

  • Leonidas


    I have to agree with you when you say that:

    “The difference with the democrats is that they don't vehemently play the values card… so it's a bit easier to forgive someone who's not pretending to have moral high ground when they get caught being human…”

    Unfortunately democrats find other areas to be hypocritical about. Just look as FISA wiretapping and the way they have conducted Congressional business under the Tom Delay method since taking over power for a good examples.

  • tarsc

    I have read many post about the right to a private life. While I am a South Carolina resident, it is not simply an “affair to remember” that has even Republicans questioning his leadership capability.

    1. Sanford left the state without informing anyone of his location. Who would have known what the chain of command would have been if there was an emergency? While I admit that the last big emergency was a hurricane named HUGO in 1989, you expect your leaders to communicate. Sanford's Staff and last of all Sanford's family really did not know where he was at this time. (Other than suffering crushing defeats by having the state legislature over turn his Veto on many different bills such as the stimulus, the State Ports Authority, etc.) If he had an affair, that is a personal life. To leave a state without anyone knowing the location of your state's executive leader is begging to have a political career ended. (Rightfully so!)

    2. Besides humiliating his family and those that live in the state of South Carolina, every move he has made is now under the closest eye of scrutiny. We have now found a reason that we can not or do not trust Sanford's judgment. We question wether or not he used state funds inappropriately to fund part of the cost of the trips to see his mistress. The Democrats want a full investigation. The Republicans say the media is doing that job just fine. South Carolina now has an integrity issue with Sanford on the issue of public trust. (His wife is not the only one that does not trust him!) This trust can not be won back with in the year he has left on his term.

    3. Sanford did bring attention to himself by being forced to take stimulus money by the state legislature. I do not feel that trying to refuse the stimulus is a “Reason” to be kicked out as the governor of a state; however, where are all those principles he stood by. He did make himself a target and then gave the public, media, and his adversaries reason to “Shoot!” I do not feel that the stimulus itself cause his demise anymore than his bible stories justify or explain his actions.

    Sanford is a bible quoting lame duck. He has only one more year left; however, the Democrats, the Republicans, and those that do not know quite where they are will not allow him to make a decision based on our trust as a society. I realize that he does not want to step down. He wants to redeem his career. I think personally he needs to go home and take care of his family. His career here is over. No one will trust him. No one will have faith in his decisions no matter what his faith is in his religion. He will continue to be the punch line of jokes in my area.

    I would say his popularity rating is really not existent anymore.

  • nycnc

    sanford told livingston to resign over his affair ,he said that (livingston lied under a different oath ,an oath to his wife)…..? With that comment and based on the situation sanford is in now ,I think he should also resign ,what make sanford so special that he doesnt have to live by his own word. Mr.Sanford also claimed that states stimulus money would be a waste of tax payers dollars,but not standing by his word when he spent tax payer's dollars on that trip to cheat on his wife