The proper way for a politician to confess to cheating is to wait until caught, give a brief statement and for him and his wife to shut up. Today, Mark Sanford proved yet again he isn't reading off that script.
Sanford, who is apparently suffering from a terminal and incurable case of verbal diarrhea, gave yet another interview today to the Associated Press in which he further expounded upon the details of his relationship with his Argentinian mistress...details that no one needed to hear. They include:
- Reminding people that he loves her:
"This was a whole lot more than a simple affair, this was a love story," Sanford said. "A forbidden one, a tragic one, but a love story at the end of the day."
- Telling the reporter he is attempting to fall back in love with his wife.
- That she came to New York three times since they started sleeping together last June on a state trip to Brazil and Argentina.
- They'd only met twice in person before that.
- He felt really bad about fucking her and thought they should stop, but he didn't actually do much about stopping.
- Her third visit to New York was after his wife found out and he was accompanied by a spiritual adviser in order to break up with her.
- He's done unspecified stuff (like "dance" with) other women when on all-dude trips outside the country, but hasn't ever fucked anyone else.
Don't you feel better for knowing that!
The AP is reporting as part of that story that, during the interview with Jenny Sanford published not-in-its-entirety last Friday, she claimed that her husband encouraged her to meet his mistress but she refused. Jesus Christ, people!
So, great. Mark Sanford, tempted by the sins of the flesh, dances with some women, maybe kisses a couple and BAM! falls in love with someone. His wife must be thrilled to hear that for the sake of the Baby Jesus he's decided to forgo the love he actually feels and try his mightiest to fall in love with her again, so they can be not-completely-miserable together until the end of time. His mighty self-denial must make her feel great about herself.
This is perhaps the one kernel of non-idiocy that stuck out in yesterday's half-witted Douthat column: lots of people do get into relationships that require way more work to hold together than it seems like is healthy for anyone. I'm as guilty of this as anyone else: I've had my ultimatum-issuing moments; my moments of pretending everything's okay for the sake of keeping the peace ; my moments of silently weeping in bed, waiting for someone to fall asleep, pretending that not talking about it can make the problems go away and that just trying harder will make us not-unhappy and that not being miserable is a step along the path back to happiness. Commitment is important, right?
And, sometimes, I suppose, it can be. But other times — many other times — the betrayal is too great and the emotions are too dark and the road ahead doesn't go back to being nicely paved, but turns into gravel, then dirt and then mud. And what the Sanfords are doing at this stage is dragging their kids — and us — down that bumpy path hoping that on the other side they can find whatever it is their God tells them they ought to have. But sometimes, there just is no other side — and one flashing neon "Dead End" sign is when your husband tells the Associated Press that he's "trying" to fall in love with you again.
If they've already stopped playing by the political script, maybe it's time to drop the inevitable political end game of staying together as well.