I’m not going to beat up on Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) for being unfaithful to his wife and kids, nor am I going to go into schadenfreude overload on yet another right-wing fundamentalist Christian defender of family values and denier of equal rights for same-sex couples proving that he’s a flaming hypocrite. That’s not exactly news, and just because he left a trail of e-mails that would make a romance novel writer cringe doesn’t make him a complete embarrassment; billets-doux don’t hold up well under klieg lights. None of that matters outside of his family and his relationship with his wife and kids, and if he wasn’t the governor of a state, it wouldn’t get any more notice than any of the other millions of people who screw around.
But he is the governor of a state, and he showed stunningly poor judgment in regard to his official duties, and an amazing amount of thickness in understanding what his unexplained disappearance and deceptions meant to the people he left holding the bag, both at home and at the state capital. It doesn’t matter why he took off, but it does matter that he doesn’t really get it that one of the many things you give up when you take on the job as governor is that you just don’t take off without notice. Even if he had just been hiking the Appalachian Trail or sitting on a beach in Hilton Head, he’s not just some ordinary guy who can call in to take a personal day without telling someone at the office where the keys to the filing cabinet are.
I suppose Mr. Sanford’s chances of being taken seriously as a presidential candidate are over. Not because he had an affair — in the GOP, that’s practically a qualifier if people like John McCain, John Ensign, and Newt Gingrich are any guide — but because he showed that when it comes to good judgment and maturity, he’s brilliantly unqualified.