As Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) and his, to use a term from the intelligence community oft-modified unlimited hangout continue day-after-day, it's now impossible to ignore his staggering marital and political indiscretions, nicely summed up by The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz:
The South Carolina governor has struck a nerve for several reasons:
a) His "Appalachian Trail" disappearance
b) His choice of an Argentine lover
c) His stream-of-consciousness press conference
d) His wife hanging him out to dry, especially after he asked permission to visit his gal pal
e) His endless apologizing
f) The e-mails
But wait -- there's more! Add Sanford's admission the Associated Press that he rounded a few bases with other women, though he went all the way home only with his "soul mate," Maria Belen Chapur, in what ended up being a whole lot more than a simple affair; "this was a love story. A forbidden one, a tragic one, but a love story at the end of the day."
And still more: Sanford has now reneged on his promise to AP to release personal financial records to prove his trips to see his paramour were not funded by SC taxpayers.
But is Sanford's behavior contemptible enough to make him King of Heels, or does that (dis)honor belong to Nevada Republican Sen. John Ensign, former New York Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D-NY) or former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards?
Let's compare low-blow by low-blow:
- Edwards paying off happily married campaign flunky -- and father of three -- Andrew Young to pretend that he was the one who knocked up Rielle Hunter is a far more diabolical deceit than Sanford's pretending to be on a hiking trip on the Appalachian Trail while he was engaged in physical activity of a very different sort in Argentina.
- As far as story documentary evidence of marital misdeeds go, the sex tape Edwards and Hunter purportedly made together is an order of magnitude sleazier than the steamy E-mails Sanford and Chapur exchanged ("despite the best efforts of my head my heart cries out for you, your voice, your body, the touch of your lips, the touch of your finger tips and an even deeper connection to your soul"). And then there's this: A man's mistress becoming the mother of his love child is the mother of all evidence that he had an affair.
- Sanford's rubbing salt in his aggrieved wife's wounds by describing his two-timing trollop as his soul mate doesn't quite rise (fall?) to the vile callousness of Hunter and Edwards purportedly discussing what music to play at their wedding, once his cancer-stricken wife, Elizabeth, has shuffled off her mortal coil. Considering Edwards claim that the affair started when his wife's cancer was in remission he had to have been expecting (hoping for?) a fatal relapse at the time he and Hunter were planning their nuptials!
- It's open to debate whether having prosecuted several prostitution rings as head of the state's organized crime task force, Spitzer's assignations with call girls is any more hypocritical than Ensign cheating on his wife with campaign aide Cindy Hampton -- the wife of another man -- while vowing to keep the Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper (among them, "A Promise Keeper is committed to practicing spiritual, moral, ethical, and sexual purity" and "A Promise Keeper is committed to building strong marriages and families through love, protection and biblical values").
After toting up all the insults and injuries -- there's only one conclusion -- John Edwards is King of Heels.