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« Going Deeper with ’My Sister’s Keeper’ | Main | Daily roundup »

July 01, 2009

Full-time dreamers are too distracted to hold public office

Sanford The world has a place for dreamers. They are often the ones who entertain us and inspire us with their art, writings, and music. On occasion, the public square needs the vision that sometimes dreamers can provide. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream of racial equality in the U.S. comes to mind.

But not South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford's form of dreaming. After listening to his recent Associated Press interview, followed by the reaction of many of his fellow Republicans in the Palmetto State's Senate, the disconnect between reality and Sanford's continued dreaminess about his Argentine affair has gone beyond morally repugnant to...well, what's the word?

Chuck Colson said recently in a BreakPoint commentary that where he finally ended up on this matter was bewilderment. That captures it well. Because with every public utterance since his return from South America last week, Governor Sanford shows himself unfit for duty. He can't help himself, it seems, as he treats us all to an incredible emotional gushing that says to one and all, "He isn't over her yet."Jenny Sanford

He calls the matter a "love story," not just an affair. Is this for his Argentine friend's eyes, just in case she is able to read The State newspaper online? He says that he is "trying to fall in love again" with his wife, Jenny, whose own public statements have been as positively extraordinary lately as her husband's comments have been abysmal. Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post--no conservative--says that Jenny Sanford has finally given America a new role model for wronged spouses: "neither enabler nor victim."

Before anyone in our romance-saturated culture gets the idea that dreamy Mark is to be pitied or admired for his clandestine love affair, let us first remember its cost to many: his sons now have a national laughingstock for a father--and may well have lost their family as they have known it. 

Next, Mark and Jenny Sanford appear to have lost their marriage and all that they had worked on together in South Carolina--unless, of course, Jenny wants to run, in which case she could probably win hands down in the next gubernatorial sweeps there. No joke. People love a strong leader, and Jenny Sanford has shown more strength of character lately than anyone else in public life in America. So maybe the people of South Carolina have found in this mess just who is the leader in the Sanford family. If they're smart, they won't let her get away.

All marriages have their weak moments, perhaps even weak years. But if Mark Sanford had any real issues to raise, he should have brought them up to a marriage counselor long before it came to this. A pastoral counselor friend of mine once told me ruefully that people wait until they've worked on making a dysfunctional marriage for several years--then want a counselor to help them patch it up in a few counseling sessions! Unwinding the problems, getting to the root of them, takes longer oftentimes.

Something serious was amiss in the Sanford marriage. What a shame for everyone's sake that it wasn't dealt with much earlier. In the fishbowl of politics, even if both people are earnestly wanting to develop a better union, the pressure to look good for the cameras must be enormous. Fame has a way of making the weeds grow faster in our gardens.

(Images © Mary Ann Chastain, AP, and Alice Keeney, AP)

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Comments

Joe

Enough already. It's time for the governor to "man up". To me that translates to shutting his mouth and getting professional help. There is no question in my mind that his actions (and here I mean abandoning his post, not his infidelity) are cause for his relief. He needs to step down and get his life under control. He owes his wife and his sons no less.

Ellen

"Something serious was amiss in the Sanford marriage."

I'd say something is seriously amiss in Mark Sanford. He was quoted in an article as saying, "I can now die knowing I've met my soulmate." What an idiot; the man obviously does not know that "falling in love" and *choosing* to love are two different things. Loving my spouse is not based on my transitory and fickle feelings for my husband; it's based on my willful *choice* to love my husband through thick and thin.

Which of us married people hasn't found a person who is not our spouse attractive? I'll admit my guilt right now. Sin snares, blinds and makes us stupid. I was on the same "make me an idiot" road recently that Mark Sanford has gone running down. But for the grace and rescuing of God, my Christian friends and husband, I'd still be on it. Gov. Sanford's current stupidity, the depth of his depravity, leaves me slack-jawed in amazement. The man needs a refresher course on what it means to be married and stay married.

And then there's the abandoning of his post and Gov. Sanford being surprised at the hupla *that* caused... there's all the evidence you need that sin makes us blind and stupid.

becky

I think he should be removed for extreme stupidity. Did he really believe that he could dissapear for a few days and the media wouldn't find out what was going on? Now every time he opens his mouth he just makes himself look more stupid. I don't think stupidity is legal grounds for divorce but his wife now has plenty of other reasons.

Allen

All very nicely stated Stephen (and I hadn't thought about the Jenny Sanford for Gov possibility ... I nearly cannot imagine her running after this circus, but it's admittedly a compelling thought).

But back to The Wackadoo. It's Mark Sanford's jarring narcissicism in all of this, isn't it? I mean, I just cannot get over how this man seems to think that we (1) give a rip about all of his infantile *feelings*, (2) actually want to hear a governor talk about some [colorful description of The Other Woman redacted] as his "soul mate" as if he's just watched a week-long Sap-A-Thon on the Oxygen channel, and (3) don't realize - better than he does apparently - that the man is self-centered to truly Clintonian levels.

Governor: Get a grip. And go away.

Ellen

I find it extraordinary that Sanford claimed that this relationship started "innocently, as these things often do." In the Associated Press article he states, "If you're a married guy at the end of the day you shouldn't be dancing with somebody else. So anyway, without wandering into that field we'll just say that I let my guard down in all senses of the word without ever crossing the line that I crossed with this situation." So, he goes off on trips with his buddies once in a while to blow off steam dancing with other women. He meets Maria "by chance" at an open air dance spot in Uruguay and counsels her far into the night about her failing marriage. Now, where was that innocent part again...?

What I really want to get at here is the danger of becoming "dear, dear friends" with someone of the opposite gender who is not your spouse. Having been happily married for almost 13 years, I've guarded against becoming friends with other men. However, I recently became Facebook friends with one of my husband's High School buddies. We started chatting through Facebook - I wanted to know if anything was being planned for a 20th H.S. reunion. Over the next several days we got onto other subjects and quickly become friends. Having formed an emotional connection, much to my surprise, I started having sexual desire for this person I have never met. My Facebook account is now disabled and we probably won't be going to the reunion. Long story short, I now more fully understand the danger of one to one communication that leads to emotional connection between a man and a woman.

I type the outline of my recent sordidness to pull the moral out my and Sanford's stories: don't be making friendships and emotional connections with members of the opposite gender; this way there be dragons.

Other people's thoughts?

vikingmother

...That's why Joseph (in the old testament) just was rude and RAN AWAY when his boss's wife hit on him...

Hope Sanford realizes that love is a choice---the mushy gushy feelings (well described by Allen above) are just that---feelings.

All of us have to MOVE ourselves if we just get a hint that we are standing near someone we shouldn't be---or even thinking in ways we shouldn't think.

Sounds like a bad movie plot so far...

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