Home/Daniel McCarthy/The Mark Sanford Saga Gets Weirder

The Mark Sanford Saga Gets Weirder

If you’ve read Michael Brendan Dougherty’s profile of Mark Sanford—or, for that matter, if you haven’t—you know the former South Carolina governor is a bit weird. His bid to return to Congress is getting a little weirder as news arrives that he has a court date, just days after the special election, to answer to a charge of trespassing at his ex-wife’s home. “I want him to sink or swim on his own. For the sake of my children I’m trying my best not to get in the way,” the Huffington Post quotes Jenny Sanford as saying, “but he makes things difficult for me when he does things like trespassing.”

She denies leaking the supposedly sealed court docs about the case. Mark Sanford’s side of the story is that he didn’t want their 14-year-old son to watch the Super Bowl alone: “I did indeed watch the second half of the Super Bowl at the beach house with our 14-year-old son because as a father I didn’t think he should watch it alone. Given she was out of town I tried to reach her beforehand to tell her of the situation that had arisen, and met her at the back steps under the light of my cellphone when she returned and told her what had happened.”

Perhaps that’s adequate as political excuses go. He had to say something. But I find the phrasing a bit strange: “as a father I didn’t think he should watch it alone.” Does that just mean he thought his son would have more fun watching the game with company, or is that “as a father” line meant to be vaguely moralizing—as if the Super Bowl and its ads might be too racy for the teenage son of a guy who hiked the Appalachian Trail all the way to Argentina with his mistress? Probably “as a father” is just a politician’s stock empathetic cliche, cropping up by force of habit in any reference to his family life. But Mark Sanford, of all people, should be careful about relating to the public “as a father.”

Update:Politico reports that the National Republican Congressional Committee is pulling out of Sanford’s race. They think he’s toast. Or as David Freddoso says on Twitter:

NRCC “won’t be engaged,” won’t be married, and won’t be in Argentina w Mark Sanford’s campaign

— David Freddoso (@freddoso) April 17, 2013

about the author

Daniel McCarthy is the editor of Modern Age: A Conservative Review, and Editor-at-Large of The American Conservative. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, USA Today, The Spectator, The National Interest, Reason, and many other publications. Outside of journalism he has worked as internet communications coordinator for the Ron Paul 2008 presidential campaign and as senior editor of ISI Books. He is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, where he studied classics. Follow him on Twitter.

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