Return of the wayward gaucho: Blog here about the prodigal governor

Finally, my browser is working again!…

Believe it or not, with the biggest South Carolina political story of the year (perhaps the decade) breaking, I’m busy this morning on a consulting project that I’ve got to get done today, while I’m busting to explore the implications of this morning’s startling news.

I’m sure all of you were just as stunned as I was to learn that the Appalachian Trail leads through Buenos Aires. I mean, who knew?

There are a thousand questions to raise. Someone asked me if the governor would be impeached. For what, exactly? His staff lying to the press? Grand theft auto involving state property? Gross irresponsibility (not sure that’s covered in the constitution)?

One thing we DO know for sure is that this puts an absolute and welcome end, post paid and that’s all she wrote, on all the ridiculous, irresponsible, utterly moronic talk about Mark Sanford being presidential timber.

I’ve got to get back to work. Anyway, here’s the latest, and I thought I’d go ahead and get this up to give y’all a place to discuss the implications. I’ll be back with you as soon as I can:


ATLANTA | S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford arrived in the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport this morning, having wrapped up a seven-day visit to Buenos Aires, Argentina, he said. Sanford said he had not been hiking along the Appalachian Trail, as his staff said in a Tuesday statement to the media.

Sanford’s whereabouts had been unknown since Thursday, and the mystery surrounding his absence fueled speculation about where he had been and who’s in charge in his absence. His emergence Wednesday ended the mystery.

Sanford, in an exclusive interview with The State, said he decided at the last minute to go to the South American country to recharge after a difficult legislative session in which he battled with lawmakers over how to spend federal stimulus money.

Sanford said he had considered hiking on the Appalachian Trail, an activity he said he has enjoyed since he was a high school student.

“But I said ‘no’ I wanted to do something exotic,” Sanford said “… It’s a great city.”

Sanford, in a brief interview in the nation’s busiest airport, said he has been to the city twice before, most recently about a year and half ago during a Commerce Department trip.

Sanford said he was alone on the trip. He declined to give any additional details about what he did other than to say he drove along the coastline.

Sanford, who was wearing a blue and white button down shirt and brown denim pants, said he left for Buenos Aires on Thursday night from Columbia International Airport and had originally planned to come back tomorrow.

54 thoughts on “Return of the wayward gaucho: Blog here about the prodigal governor

  1. Randy E

    His apologists contended that he was still available in case an emergency arose. He was in contact with his staff? NOPE. His wife knew where he was or atleast had contact? NOPE.

    He simply took off. Left the COUNTRY by himself. NOBODY knew where he was. A GOVERNOR did this.

    Doug and his other defenders can explore all the angles they want. “Not newsworthy”? That’s comical. “Nothing happened while he was gone”? That’s how we evaluate recklessness? Maybe next time he’ll drive drunk and we can excuse him if he doesn’t have a wreck. “we don’t really know what happened” we do now but that’s moot. We didn’t know because he DISAPPEARED!

    I am looking forward to more responses from the apologists.

  2. Bill C.

    You and the liberals wish this were the end of his political career. This is going to do absolutely nothing. If you believe nobody knew where he was you’re a bigger idiot than I thought you were. Can someone (Brad, Jake, Andre’, etc…) tell me what Sanford missed out on while he was away? Do any of you have access to his personal agenda for the week?

    By “work”, I’m assuming Brad means he needs to put his skirt back on and go out to the picket fence to meet up with his buddy Jake and discuss the latest gossip.

    “biggest political story of the decade”… now that’s funny. A governor doesn’t release his personal agenda to the media and his biggest enemy in the senate and it’s suddenly news of historical proportion. But then Brad did work for the epitome of molehill to mountain making media.

  3. Brad Warthen

    I knew it. I knew someone would defend him. I was just curious as to what they would present by way of argument. Not much so far, as it turns out.

    I followed that link to the “more objective” assessment. The headline was a classic bit of old-style media hedging, avoiding a conclusion: “Mark Sanford risks being odd man out in 2012.” Risk? Say what? In or out, he IS the odd man, and is now nationally known as such, as the Politico piece pretty much acknowledges in another classic dodge, the statement as question: “Just how strange is too strange?” Answer: This strange.

    Interesting thing about that was that Politico was supposed to be a new-age kind of political reporting medium. But it follows the old newsroom style of doing everything BUT reaching a conclusion. I made the transition from news to editorial in 1994 to get away from that stilted convention, in which all sorts of gyrations are taken to say something without actually saying it.

    Folks, the governor exiting that plane from Argentina in Atlanta, with Gina standing there waiting for him (congrats on the scoop there, Gina; too bad they didn’t send you to Argentina a couple of days ago) was the political equivalent of bread popping up from an old-fashioned toaster: It’s over. He’s done. This is what toast looks like.

  4. Doug Ross

    If an admitted user of cocaine and pot can become President (and be endorsed by Brad Warthen) and if a guy who cheats on his wife and dumps her for a sugar Mama can run for President in 2008 (and be endorsed by Brad Warthen), I feel fairly comfortable in saying that Mark Sanford can overcome the heavy stigma of taking a few days off the grid while nothing was happening in the state.

    Sanford can’t win the Presidency because he lacks the “it” factor… not a great speaker, awful at compromise (which I consider a positive), and just unwilling to conform to the “standards” applied by the ignorant and chattering classes of the United States.

    Keep the focus on Sanford while the state crumbles around you under the control of the state legislature. I know it’s easier to do that than to try and evaluate the true cause of the state’s problems. You’re a symptom of the problem.

  5. Doug Ross


    Strange for you might make you the strange one. You oughta search your soul as to why you are so obsessed with Sanford. What is it about Sanford that gets in your craw so deeply? His ethics? His success at being exactly what he says he is? His strong principles?

    You deflected the Tommy Moore question before but it’s telling. You need to stand behind what you believe and not backpedal. You thought Tommy Moore would be a better governor than Sanford. Tell us what specific things you think Tommy Moore would have done that would have helped make South Carolina better by now.

    I hope Sanford resigns. I hope he just walks away and leaves the state in the capable hands of Andre Bauer, Harrell, Leatherman, et al. You’ll may regret getting what you wish for.

  6. Bart

    As I said in an earlier post, Sanford is “toast” on the presidential lottery. This is truly bizarre for any governor, much less one considering a run for the presidency.

    Although the Democrat Party is crammed just as full of liars, cheats, thieves, eccentrics, and people with questionable mental stability, they are never held to the same standards as Republican ones. Howard Dean lost his stuff with the infamous “primal scream” and was rewarded by becoming head of the Democrat Party.

    Oh well, no one ever said sanity was a prerequisite for running for public office.

  7. Randy E

    “He took a few days off while nothing happened.” – Doug

    This wasn’t packing up the SUV and taking the kids to the beach. He DISAPPEARED. His wife had no idea where he was. His staff had no idea where he was. Yep, just a little down time, lol.

    The claim that “nothing happened” is the same as driving drunk and claiming that because there was no wreck it’s not a problem. Responsibility is not based on outcomes, it is based on conduct. Child endangerment is not based on what happens to the kids. Reckless driving is not based on actually having an accident. He had responsibility and betrayed it.

    “doesn’t release his personal agenda to the media” – Bill

    He didn’t release his personal agenda to HIS WIFE and HIS STAFF. He left the country for 5 days – DISAPPEARED.

    Bill, by resorting to calling people an “idiot” and demeaning others you show that you don’t have a substantive position.

    This is great stuff. Keep digging guys.

  8. Birch Barlow

    One thing we DO know for sure is that this puts an absolute and welcome end, post paid and that’s all she wrote, on all the ridiculous, irresponsible, utterly moronic talk about Mark Sanford being presidential timber.

    Meh, he was never presidential material anyway. What with him sending his kids to a private school and owning a multi-million dollar vacation home and all…

    But seriously, is this really the criteria we are going to use for picking our president? I’m not trying to defend Mark Sanford here. I personally never voted for the man. And I do think this episode is newsworthy and strange. But enough to disqualify someone for office? No.

    Instead I think all this just makes a greater statement about the state of American politics. Why can’t we pick our leaders based on ideas and policies alone? Who cares if the candidate does strange things on vacation? Who cares if a candidate has tried drugs? Who cares if a candidate has two houses? Who cares where a candidate goes to church? Who cares if the candidate had an affair once? Would you disqualify the best surgeon in the country from working on you if you learned he had an affair? Hell, no. So why do we do it to our elected leaders?

    What a shallow, shallow people we are. Surely, we do not deserve the country we have inherited.

  9. Doug Ross


    You said it far better than I could.

    We have the government we deserve. A government of the ignorant, by the incompetent, and for the apathetic.

  10. Matt B.

    So much for the “common folk” junk of getting the last bale of hay in on the family farm, etc. How many people in SC can just jet off to Argentina on a whim? This guy held teachers and prison guards hostage for how many months? Yet still people defend him. He’s a spoiled rich man. Funny, I spent Father’s Day with my wife and kids. But that’s what I do every day. I can’t wait to see what is revealed next.

  11. Daniel Layfield


    First, I didn’t “defend” Mark. All I did was link to a story regarding his chances in the 2012 election. I don’t think anyone would suggest it isn’t more objective; you described chatter about Sanford’s presidential ambitions as “ridiculous, irresponsible, utterly moronic talk.”

    Second, I think your dismissal of Martin’s analysis is telling of your bias. It’s interesting that Laurin Manning – the only person I know who matches both your viscerally negative obsession with Gov. Sanford and your passion for new media – praised this piece and its author Jonathan Martin by saying Martin has “the best handle on the characters, quirks, and dynamics of SC GOP politics … [because] [h]e’s spent a great deal of time studying it.” Martin’s thesis – that in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t THAT weird compared to the baggage of some candidates – is well articulated, and can’t be so easily dismissed.

    Third, your conclusary statements about Sanford’s national candidacy potential (going back to the VP talk) have always been based on your own narrow view of things. You view Mark through the prism of the intellectual editorial board chief who has followed his career (and every single press statement and Columbia back-room rumor) closer than most. As a result of not agreeing with him most of the time (Note: I don’t need a reminder that you agree with him on restructuring) you’ve come to despise his terms as governor. That’s fine, but it is a VERY narrow view. It represents neither the electorate at large nor the Republican primary voters. Your summary conclusion that he has no business as president doesn’t add much to any discussion of whether he actually has that potential.

    Fourth, perhaps you should give thought to your driving desire to reach an unwavering and passionate conclusion on issues that are as fleeting and fickle as a political candidate’s chances in an election that doesn’t take place for more than three years. It clearly creates an unbreachable divide between you and other parties, and certainly isn’t helpful to someone trying to get (back) into mainstream media (which perhaps you’re not).

  12. Lee Muller

    It would be nice if Democrats and “journalists” put this much effort into proving Obama’s citizenship, or punishing Ted Kennedy for killing his girl friend.

  13. Bill C.

    Brad, wake up, your wet dream is over. Tell us Brad, what important business did Sanford miss during these 4 days?

    How’s the job search coming? Can you find anyone besides the handful of people on your blog to give you the time of day? Do you have your resume in at the Free Times yet?

  14. Bill C.

    Randy E. – If you told your wife not to disclose where you went for a weekend trip, and I came asking where you were… would she tell me?

  15. Randy E

    Daniel, I had a similar reaction to the Martin piece. He was comparing this to Clinton “droning on at the 88 convention.” That’s a silly comparison. My take is Martin found an angle he wanted to explore – a somewhat contrarian point of view to stand out.

    If a democratic governor had done this, the family values crowd would have invoked the wrath of God. There’s no way the Sanford apologists would have pooh poohed the disappearence of a Hodges.

    This is the end of Sanford’s presidential possibilities. Yes, most people will have forgotten about this within a couple weeks but in the GOP primary it would have been reignited by the papers AND his rivals. He’d be the butt of jokes from Huckabee and Palin would brag how she takes her kids with her when she vacations. In debates someone would make a joke about Argentina and hiking.

    The biggest indicator that this is a problem is Mrs. Sanford’s reaction. “I’m being a mom today.” is an effective way to side step the issue. As recently as Tuesday she admitted that she had not heard from him. That speaks volumes regardless of what the apologists hear.

  16. Bill C.

    Does anyone but me read Brad’s reflections upon his dead career and automatically think of Al Bundy reflecting on his high school football career?

  17. Bart

    Do I hear in the background the gentle refrains of “Don’t Cry for me Argentina” from Avita sung by Mark Sanford?

  18. Kathryn Fenner

    “I’m sure all of you were just as stunned as I was to learn that the Appalachian Trail leads through Buenos Aires. I mean, who knew?”

    Who knew, indeed….

    Bill C. —if you hate Brad so much, why do you read his blog, much less post your sour little bile? Methinks you doth protest too much….man crush?

  19. Dan Moran

    Boy, it’s hotter in here than outside for a change.

    Anyone who believes his wife and staff didn’t know his whereabouts is fooling themselves (note I avoided calling anyone a fool). The fact that his wife wasn’t concerned should have been the tipoff. Given his past antics, I believe he planned this wacko stunt. It is amazing that Jenny went along with it. If he wanted to get away to clear his head or whatever, they should have told the media “it’s none of your business” instead of saying they didn’t know where he was, feeding the media buzz. This is presidential material??? Come to think of it, we’ve had worse.

    And what, we don’t have beautiful coasts in the United States?

    BTW: check out today’s WOOT ( If you are not familiar with Woot, they pitch/sell a different product every day, usually an electronic gadget, and describe the product in a bizarre fashion. Today’s description uses Sanford’s disappearance as fodder.

  20. Lee Muller

    Jimmy Carter wrote in one of his books about how many times he disappeared for the weekend, sometimes with Rosalyn, sometimes alone, just fishing in a river. He would fly to Camp David sometimes, then leave the press corps drinking all weekend and they would not say a thing when he showed up Sunday night.

    That is called “media bias”, and this is a “manufactured news” story.

  21. Bill C.

    I’m just hanging out to see which sucker company hires a tired hack of a reporter like Brad. I’m not on his Twitter or Facebook list so I have to check his blog.

  22. Bart

    Randy E, if Hodges had disappeared, there would have been a loud cheer coming from the “family values” party, not the bitching and moaning emanating from both sides over the past few days.

    “Hurricane” Hodges’ political career was over when he was blasted over the coastal evacuation fiasco. Hodges, I think was unfairly blamed for the problems when, if we were to stop and consider the circumstances, it was something not tried before.

    This entire episode will probably become a “Movie of the Week” soon.

  23. bud

    Doug, even you have to admit that jetting off to Argentina alone on a whim, on Father’s Day weekend at that, is a bit bizarre behavior for a governor. Yet politicians do weird stuff all the time. Just check out the story of Sarah Palin going into labor in Dallas and flying home to Alaska to give birth. That was pretty weird. LBJ liked to pick up dogs by their ears. That’s weird. Then we have the whole Clinton/Lewinsky thing. McCain abandoned his first wife for a rich, younger woman and it didn’t cost him politically. And of course our last president was nothing but weird with the whole weapons of mass destruction dishonesty as a prime example. Folks STILL TO THIS DAY defend him for that!

    Being weird is not necessarily a deal breaker. Both Clinton and Bush were re-elected after boutes with weirdness. Palin was picked for the VP slot after hers. Sanford himself was re-elected after the whole “Pork” and “Barrel” stunt. To suggest ‘weird’ will automatically disqualify a person for higher office is to ignore American political history.

  24. jfx

    Wow, full-tilt damage control bucket brigade in here. Doug and Bill are bailing for all they’re worth, but…as Jake Knotts might put it…..”this boat done sank”.

    R.I.P. Sanford 2012 – Stealth Libertarianism’s last best chance.

  25. Doug Ross

    I’m listening to Sanford on ETV webfeed now. If you don’t listen to his full statement, please stop commenting.

    He is a real human being.

  26. Doug Ross

    Sanford knows how to apologize. He says “I’m sorry”… he doesn’t say “I’m sorry if people were offended”.

  27. Doug Ross

    He is resigning head of Republican governors.

    His family should mean more than his job. Always.

  28. Doug Ross


    He should have. The distractions Clinton caused in this country because of his stupidity were far more damaging because he stayed.

  29. Bill C.

    Has anyone heard from Brad, this has to be like an extra large dose of Viagra to him. Remember Brad, if it lasts for more than 4 hours, consult a physician. I know Brad and his buddy Jakie are eating this up. Sad things is that there probably is no mistress short of paying up front for either of them.

  30. Carolyn

    Sad. For him, his family. And to have to play out such a personal issue in the public eye is just absolutely painful to watch. He was in the wrong, without a doubt, but still. And, btw, not a fan of his politics, but I would not wish this on my worst enemy.

  31. Greg Flowers

    I totally agree with you Caroline. Unfortunately, when you put yourself in the public eye this is the price you have to pay.

  32. Bill C.

    Forget Sanford, I’m worried about Brad… this might have been too much good news for him. Anybody have his personal cell number… I need to know where he is right now. I hope he’s not having an affair as we speak.

  33. jfx

    This is bad for all of us. I wasn’t expecting this. I thought it was either a PR stunt or a flake-out. It was neither. I am sorry for him and his wife. I appreciate he manned up like that today. This is awful. I am sorry for his children. I hope Carol Fowler and the SCDP gang will hold fire.

  34. Bill C.

    Okay I just heard from Brad, he said he can’t post because his hands are too sore from high-fiving with Jake.

  35. Sean S.

    “Jimmy Carter wrote in one of his books about how many times he disappeared for the weekend, sometimes with Rosalyn, sometimes alone, just fishing in a river. He would fly to Camp David sometimes, then leave the press corps drinking all weekend and they would not say a thing when he showed up Sunday night.”

    Except he wasn’t “alone”, unless you define “alone” as in “a retinue of body guards, the guy holding the nuclear football, as well as a whole entire air lift squadron to get you where you need to go.” Michelle Obama actually sparked a similar furor a month or so ago when she mentioned sneaking out of the White House, and upon being questioned, pointed out that when she meant sneaking out she meant without notifying the press, not without her bodyguards.

    Obviously governors are much lower on this totem pole. But the better question is, did he use state funds for trips outside the country?

  36. Jesse S.

    “He had an affair. He should resign.”

    No, not over this.

    If you need a reason to dissuade you, how about this, Governor Andre Bauer.

  37. jfx

    Jesse’s right. His resignation would create an even larger mess. At this point we know what we’ve got for another year and a half. It ain’t much, but we know what we’ve got. If Sanford exits stage left, then all the big knives come out, and we watch the SC GOP slice itself into giblets. Not that that won’t happen eventually, but it’ll get much bloodier, much quicker, if Sanford bails.

  38. Bart

    Wow! Another one bites the dust! Maybe it is a good thing that the Republican Party is going through a cleansing at this time. With Sanford and the senator from Nevada going public about their affairs and resigning their leadership posts, maybe the party can start with new faces who can actually relate to the voters once again.

    Sanford cannot be defended on this one. We may empathize with his apparent regrets and contrition but he is a grown man, he knew what he was doing, and even if there may have been problems in the marriage, my speculation, he had to know and understand that in his position, the news would come out about the affair sooner or later. I would also be willing to bet Jake was already aware of it.

    My wife guessed correctly after she heard the comments from his wife. Her first comments was that he was involved with another woman and it would come out. She is angry as hell about his deception and lies and even more so about how it may affect the children.

    Why should Democrats even bother to worry about losing in 2010 or 2012 when they have the gift that keeps on giving – the Republican Party.

  39. jfx

    Bart said:

    “My wife guessed correctly after she heard the comments from his wife. Her first comments was that he was involved with another woman and it would come out.”

    Women are smarter. A female friend of mine said the exact same thing. I didn’t think so, because I couldn’t fathom Sanford as the “tryst in Buenos Aires” forbidden passion type. It just seemed out of character. Boy was I wrong!

  40. denni

    This situation brings up two thoughts from the Bible. First, “He who commits adultery has no sense; he who does it destroys himself.” (Proverbs 6:32 RSV) This is ringing pretty true at this point. Secondly, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” Be careful about judging Sanford, lest the skeleton in your own closet be reveals\ed.

  41. Bart

    jfx, I agree with you. I just couldn’t see Sanford involved in a tryst with another woman, especially in Buenos Aires. It is always the ones you least suspect isn’t it? Not that I ever doubted it could happen, it just didn’t seem likely.

    I am concerned about his next move and whether he will resign or not. Recently, I was at a gathering for Bauer as a guest of the host. After spending a lot of time with the man, even if Sanford suffers from depression, brings his amore’ to the mansion, or anything short of punching Jake in the mouth, the LAST thing we want is to have Bauer in charge.

  42. jfx

    Bart, sad thing is, what you saw that night was only the tip of the iceberg.

    Andre’ has a bit of a wild past, going all the way back to some hazy days in the Irmo-Chapin party scene. There’s stuff that hasn’t come out yet, whistles that haven’t been blown, old “friends” who haven’t come forward with interesting stories…only because our electorate doesn’t pay much attention until someone goes for the very top office. Bauer is in the unique position of being a breath away from SC’s highest office without ever having been truly vetted.

    I’d hate to see a double-whammy where Sanford resigns, Bauer takes over, the skeletons come out, and Bauer has us all back in the national news for another spin on the Unmerry-Go-Round.

    It would be much better for our state if Sanford just sits on the position, as the lamest of ducks, long enough for Andre’ to be flushed out of the pipes through the natural vetting process for the 2010 election.

  43. Statesman

    Bill C.

    You are an ass and I would block you from posting. Brad is much nicer than I. I will put you on my prayer list.

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