Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Don't Cry for Me Argentina

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (R) finally turned up after being largely out of touch with his staff this past week. You can watch the meandering 18 minute mea culpa but here's the skinny on his story:

Governor Sanford was not as his staff suggested earlier this week hiking the Appalachian Trail. Sanford was instead in Buenos Aires, Argentina breaking off his romance with a woman he's known and exchanged emails with for eight years but says he's been romantically involved with for only the past year.

The emails are rather juicy:

"I could digress and say that you have the ability to give magnificent gentle kisses, or that I love your tan lines or that I love the curve of your hips, the erotic beauty of you holding yourself (or two magnificent parts of yourself) in the faded glow of the night's light."
I think he is talking about the Argentinian practice of kissing on the cheek European style, alternating sleeved and sleeveless t-shirts to show off their farmer tans (or whatever they call a farmer tan on the Pampas), and holding one's elbows with arms crossed (Argentinian women are known around the world for their magnificent elbows). But I digress.

The State, the major newspaper in South Carolina, has been in possession of the incriminating emails since December and so found out about the affair at least 6 months ago. A reporter from The State met Sanford's return flight from Argentina at the Atlanta airport (a big place). So The State apparently knew or suspected where he was all along.

Sanford's wife (I'll leave her name out of this) found out about the affair 5 months ago. The two have been working to repair their marriage, in part through the religious counseling of a prominent pastor that Sanford was able to produce at his press conference.

The wife says she asked her husband to leave the house two weeks ago, and not to contact her while he worked out his stuff in a trial separation, which explains why she did not seem so concerned with his whereabouts earlier this week. But there is every indication from her statement she is willing to take her husband back:

"I believe enduring love is primarily a commitment and an act of will, and for a marriage to be successful, that commitment must be reciprocal. I believe Mark has earned a chance to resurrect our marriage. ... I remain willing to forgive Mark completely for his indiscretions and to welcome him back, in time, if he continues to work toward reconciliation with a true spirit of humility and repentance."

Not perhaps the most romantic idea of love. On it face, it doesn't compete well with what Mark expressed in his intercepted emails:

"The rarest of all commodities in this world is love. It is that thing that we all yearn for at some level — to be simply loved unconditionally for nothing more than who we are — not what we can get, give or become."
But love is not everything that Mark expressed:

"In all my life I have lived by a code of honor and at a variety of levels know I have crossed lines I would have never imagined."
In the end, or at least in this round, it seems that honor has won out. I will give Mark Sanford points for not making his wife stand next to him at his press conference. And in the pubic realm, I will give him points for not draping his press conference with flags.

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