Opinion

Lust and Found --Don’t Cry for me Argentina

Now that we've picked up our jaw after watching South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford give his emotional tale of sex, lies, e-mails, and "Don't Cry for me Argentina," it's time to see where the chips are going to fall. I do believe that a politician's private life should not be subject to the public spotlight, but the dereliction of his public duties is a concern.

After his seven-day 'lust and found' trip, Gov. Sanford held a news conference to admit to and apologize for an affair with a woman in Argentina. "I've been unfaithful to my wife. I've let down a lot of people. That's the bottom line," Gov. Sanford said.

Prayers go out to Gov. Sanford's wife and family. What they do with their marriage is their business. The business of the state is another matter.

A current poll on the Web site for South Carolina's The State newspaper finds that 68 percent of readers want Governor Sanford to leave office, 32 percent say no.

As a former governor's press secretary, I can't remember one time when someone didn't know where the leader of our state was for seven minutes, let alone seven days. Governor Sanford has a reputation for pushing the political envelope. It's one thing to be unconventional; it's another to be unaccounted for, for almost a week.

Governor Sanford lied to his staff about his plans. He said he was going to hike the Appalachian Trail, when he actually went to see his lover in Argentina. This deception put his staff in an unnecessary position of providing conflicting statements to the media.

The governor's staff was also unable to make contact with him. When you have a loyal team, you owe them the respect of providing the information they need to do their job.

There's nothing wrong with the governor getting away for a week, but when he goes completely dark, with no contact with family and staff, there's a problem. He should have transferred power to the lieutenant governor. If there had been a state emergency, such as wildfires or severe weather, there was no one in a position to make the necessary decisions to declare an emergency and call out the National Guard.

The governor drove a state-issued vehicle to the Columbia. S.C. airport to kick off his fair winds trip to Buenos Aires. The governor said he paid for the plane ticket.

I don't think the governor did himself any favors by providing all the sordid details in his news conference. He should have explained his absence, issued an apology, and renewed his commitment to serve.

Besides, the personal e-mails between him and his lover are sordid enough and the governor knew The State had them in their system, with their finger on the 'send' key.

This e-mail was sent to governor's lover, a woman named Maria, from July of 2008: "I could digress and say that you have the ability to give magnificently gentle kisses, or that I love your tan lines or that I love the curves of your hips, the erotic beauty of you holding yourself (or two magnificent parts of yourself) in the faded glow of night's light -- but hey, that would be going into the sexual details ..."

Governor. Sanford has stepped down as Chairman of the Republican Governor's Association. His spokesman Joel Sawyer says the governor has no plans to step down as governor.

Democrats say Governor Sanford was a rising star in the Republican Party and was on the short list of 2012 presidential contenders. They are trying to paint this as a blow to the GOP. It's not; it's a case of infidelity. There are many outstanding Republicans currently serving and standing ready to lead the party in 2012.

Governor Sanford took a pledge to serve "we the people" and has been going through the "self-serve" line. It doesn't appear he broke any laws, but the public's trust has been broken. Only time will tell if he can make the necessary repairs.

Alice Stewart is a media consultant and Republican strategist. To read more, please go to: www.alicestewart.com.