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Tilting at Windmills

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June 24, 2009

SANFORD'S SILLY SOJOURN.... I think I've got it -- South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) secretly traveled to Argentina last week because he thought it might count as foreign policy experience.

I hope he's not too disappointed when it doesn't.

As you've probably heard, the governor has called a press conference to discuss his bizarre behavior, which will get started around 2 p.m. (eastern). I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess there will be more than a few reporters on hand for the Q&A.

There's no shortage of possible questions for Sanford to answer, but some of the inquiries that come to mind...

* Where did Sanford stay during his trip? And with whom? (The governor refused to discuss his accommodations in Argentina earlier today.)

* Did Sanford lie to his staff, or did he encourage his staff to lie to us?

* Why didn't the governor tell his wife and children where he was going?

* Why didn't Sanford check in with the U.S. embassy in Buenos Aires?

* The governor's vehicle parked at a South Carolina airport had a "baseball cap, running shoes, sunscreen, a pair of shorts, a canvas bag and a sleeping bag" inside. Did Sanford intend to come home and pretend that he actually was on the Appalachian Trail during his absence?

* Why did Sanford change his travel arrangements for his return trip home?

* Who was in charge of the South Carolina executive branch for the last six days?

* Given the number of telephones and computers in Buenos Aires, why didn't Sanford call and/or email anyone on his staff or in his family?

Sometimes, there's a reasonable explanation for a seemingly unreasonable situation. I can't wait to hear what Sanford has come up with.

Steve Benen 12:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (75)

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Comments

Watch what the MSM and right wingers say, as a good test for IOKIYAR.

Posted by: delver on June 24, 2009 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

So:
Plan "A" = Appalachian Trail
Plan "B" = Buenos Aires

Plan "C" coming in one hour!

Posted by: tomj on June 24, 2009 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

could be a dry run in case he ever has to get out of the country on short notice

Posted by: beep52 on June 24, 2009 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

That mountain of coke wasn't going to sniff itself!

/starting a rumor

Posted by: rusrus on June 24, 2009 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

For some reason I don't have much confidence that local reporters are going to ask him any real tough questions. Hope I'm wrong.

Posted by: kc on June 24, 2009 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Check out TPM Muckracker. It's starting to unravel that Sanford was not alone on his trip. Apparently, a car parked next to his at the airport was identified. And, Sanford and his wife have been in marital counseling for a while. Stay tuned.

Here's the link:
http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/06/source_there_is_some_evidence_sanford_was_not_alon.php

Posted by: PS on June 24, 2009 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

I'm betting Jesus told him to go.

Posted by: walt on June 24, 2009 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Showing he could carry out a covert plan??

Maybe looking first hand at a unitary executive role so beloved
by fellow republicans Bush and Cheney??

If an affair, sticking by the over 99 miles rule??

Posted by: consider this on June 24, 2009 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

But ... but ... but ... look what Bill Clinton did!!!

[Sorry - I just needed to raise that perrenial piece of right-wing BS to get it out of the way]

Posted by: Bokonon on June 24, 2009 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Watch what the MSM and right wingers say, as a good test for IOKIYAR.
Posted by: delver on June 24, 2009 at 12:39 PM

DANG! I leave the room for a moment, and someone beats me to it!!!!!!!!!!

(I still go with my "Gambling in Havana. . .")

Posted by: DAY on June 24, 2009 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Using the politicians "Say the Opposite" codespeak

Alone = with someone
Driving Around = parked or stationary
Buenos Aires = Secluded Location

Sounds like a tryst to me

(**more rumor mongering)

Posted by: bcinaz on June 24, 2009 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Plastic surgery? Treatment for depressive breakdown? Is he willing to release medical records? If not, why not -- what is he hiding?

Adulterous affair? Maybe wild Latin three-ways? Is he willing to release his hotel and credit-card records? If not, why not -- what is he hiding?

Or even worse, was he secretly meeting with agents of Venezuela, or Cuba? Was China involved, and if so how? Is he willing to release his cellphone records? If not, why not -- what is he hiding?

It's all very mysterious...

Posted by: bleh on June 24, 2009 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

It occurred to me from the beginning that this is Sanford's latest entry into the Crazy Governor's Contest with Sarah Palin. Odd what passes for SC and Alaska governor's duties these days, just one publicity stunt after another.

Posted by: Capt Kirk on June 24, 2009 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the emerging talking point from the right - Tim Kaine's withholding of his travel records as chair of the DNC.

http://www.roanoke.com/editorials/wb/209330

Lame, I know. But they have to counter with something, and that's about all they've got that's even vaguely equivalent.

Posted by: Stranger on June 24, 2009 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

It's all very mysterious...

Has anyone asked why Gov. Sanford refuses to produce his birth certificate?

Posted by: Capt Kirk on June 24, 2009 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

For some reason I don't have much confidence that local reporters are going to ask him any real tough questions. Hope I'm wrong.

I actually have a lot more faith in local reporters than CNN. For locals, what the governor was doing when he should have been running the state is of real concern. News networks just want to know how it will affect his standing in 2012. Guaranteed the first one that gets a crack at him will focus on how this affects his career, and not how reckless it was for him to abandon the state.

Posted by: ibid on June 24, 2009 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

South Carolina's former treasurer, Thomas Ravenel, was visibly impaired (i.e., coked to the gills) in public appearances and the largest newspaper in the state failed to report on his weird public behavior . . . until he was arrested. THEN the paper reported it.

Posted by: kc on June 24, 2009 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

John Ensign: "Thank God for Mark Sanford."

No, seriously, he is probably literally thanking God for this piece of news.

Sara Palin my have to physically attack David Letterman to get back to the top of the news heap.

I think she can take the piano player.....

Posted by: BGinCHI on June 24, 2009 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

My dream GOP ticket in 2012 is Palin/Sanford. Their campaign slogan will be "Vote GOP—They Bring the Crazy!"

Posted by: bluestatedon on June 24, 2009 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

How did the "The State" reporter find Sanford in the Atlanta Airport? The article said it is the busiest airport in the US! An S.C. reporter hangs out at the Atlanta airport and runs into Sanford? The reporter obviously knows something.

Posted by: tomj on June 24, 2009 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Shacking up with the mistress is the first plausible story I have heard yet on this. He had a falling out with the wife, and the legislature had just handed him his ass by overriding his vetoes, so he decided to bury his sorrows in a few rounds of illicit nookie. When he got around to calling the office he discovered the whole situation had blown up, and there was no way to make a quiet re-entry.

Sanford's wife has got to be loving this, seeing her cheating soon-to-be ex utterly humiliated.

Posted by: jimBOB on June 24, 2009 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Since Sanford is a Republican, questions will be, "Was the state of SC in any danger while you were away?", "Do we (media) have a right to know every step you take?". "Can we assumed you didn't start smoking cigarettes?"

Posted by: Danp on June 24, 2009 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

He's got a girlfriend (or boyfriend). And that's that.

I don't think it should matter much, but lying on a massive scale is worrisome. OTOH, if he's married and such a public figure, lying on a massive scale might be the only option he has for getting some action.

Posted by: flubber on June 24, 2009 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

I expected the marital difficulties to surface the moment Mrs. Sanford was quoted as being completely indifferent to the situation. I'm not buying the Argentina thing until there's some kind of confirmation, though. That's way too far to go just for an extended nooner.

Unless his new honey happens to live there, of course. That would be more understandable.

He must be really coming apart at the seams if he thought this little stunt wouldn't go unnoticed, though. Or he's so far gone that he just doesn't care anymore.

It seriously wouldn't surprise me if he announced his resignation sometime soon. It really wouldn't.

Posted by: Curmudgeon on June 24, 2009 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

That's way too far to go just for an extended nooner.

Well, he IS a governor. Going out of the country would be a good way to keep from being recognized. Recall how no one knew till today that he was in BA. I think he was not counting on it suddenly blowing up.

I agree his resignation is looking highly possible at this point.

Posted by: jimBOB on June 24, 2009 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

With apologies to Don McLean: Bye, bye, thanks to Argentine pie ...

Posted by: Renman on June 24, 2009 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

"It seriously wouldn't surprise me if he announced his resignation sometime soon. It really wouldn't."

It would be a complete shock- IOKIYAR is the rule

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on June 24, 2009 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

I have a question for Sanford. Can we see your passport?

Posted by: Chris on June 24, 2009 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Sanford is a "conservative Republican" so it's definitely an affair, no question about it; the only question is with who.

The bigger question the reporters should ask (but probably won't) and that voters should be upset about (if they can rouse themselves enough to be) is, as Steve says, who the hell was in charge of the state for six days?

Posted by: electrolite on June 24, 2009 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK
Odd what passes for SC and Alaska governor's duties these days, just one publicity stunt after another.
The, em, affairs of the Republican presidential wannabees remind me of this:
Only six people in the Galaxy knew that the job of the Galactic President was not to wield power but to attract attention away from it.
If your basic mantra is "Government doesn't work and is evil", then of course, your candidates cannot be allowed to be effective at governing. Posted by: bernard gilroy on June 24, 2009 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Bold! Decisive! Unpredictable! A man capable of leaving the country in a split second! Unafraid of ridicule or public criticism!
Sanford 2012!

Posted by: Wingnut on June 24, 2009 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

It's really simple folks...

Sanford heard that the GOP was going to be wandering in the wilderness for a generation and he wanted to get a head start.

Posted by: ckelly on June 24, 2009 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

But the question that nobody is asking is: what would the Underpants Gnomes think?

1) Vanish to wander aimlessly on the Appalachian Trail, or in Argentina, or something.
2) ?
3) Profit!

Clearly, this was his plan all along. Al sees it, I'm sure.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on June 24, 2009 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

This is all being blown way out of proportion. He only flew to Argentina in the hopes that he'd bump into Larry Craig in a baño de aeropuerto.

Posted by: doubtful on June 24, 2009 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

It may be the mistress thing. But actually, there is a Charleston (Sanford is from Charleston)/Buenos Aires connection that outsiders might not realize. The Charleston paper owns (or used to own, not sure which) a paper in Buenos Aires, and some retired editor still goes down and sends dispatches back from time to time. Sanford is probably pretty friendly with these folks (the Chas power structure is VERY small and tight knit), so maybe he was just borrowing a vacation property down there. Or, maybe someone wants a shot at being a kingmaker, a la Joseph Pulitzer, and they went down there for a chat?

Posted by: bluewave on June 24, 2009 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Preparing popcorn now. T minus 15 minutes.

Posted by: hemnn on June 24, 2009 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

if nothing else -- and there may be nothing else forthcoming -- sanford sojourn and the fiasco indicate he aint ready for prime time. either too many enemies or too little infrastructure or both.. his problem is that he caint cover his ass well enough to be a major political player...

nota bene, folks: compare and contrast guv slack with the antics of the guvner of alaska -- now thars a place one will find no butter meltin'

Posted by: neill on June 24, 2009 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Best explanation for Mark Sanford's absence from South Carolina (from TP Memo):

He told his staff he was "spiking some Argentina tail," and they HEARD "hiking the Appalachian Trail". Easy mistake to make.

Posted by: anon on June 24, 2009 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps he was getting campaign/governing advice from retired WWII germans.

Posted by: Kurt on June 24, 2009 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Plan "C" coming in one hour!

pfft! Sanford doesn't seem like the type to care if it comes at all.

Posted by: JM on June 24, 2009 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently, a car parked next to his at the airport was identified.

So the guy wants to go on a "Top Secret" rendezvous with his paramour, and he has her (or him?) park next to him? S Carolina can have him, but that alone should disqualify him for any shot at national office. What a moron.

Posted by: Stetson Kennedy on June 24, 2009 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK
The governor's vehicle parked at a South Carolina airport had a "baseball cap, running shoes, sunscreen, a pair of shorts, a canvas bag and a sleeping bag" inside. Did Sanford intend to come home and pretend that he actually was on the Appalachian Trail during his absence?

He clearly wanted someone to believe that, presumably whoever either was around when he packed the car or whoever was expected to be around when he unpacked it, or both.

The question is why the elaborate set of deceptions and the elaborate staging? And, if he did leave with somebody (as some upthread have indicated that there is some evidence he did), where is that companion now?

Posted by: cmdicely on June 24, 2009 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

I think he's probably a Nazi hunter in his spare time. Probably chasing down a lead or two. Nothing to see here.

Posted by: howie on June 24, 2009 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Still another 15 minutes before Sanford has his story straight for the public.

you can watch a live stream from SC public TV

http://scetvradio-webstream1.wm.llnwd.net/scetvradio_webstream5

Posted by: karen marie on June 24, 2009 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

First reaction: I didn't know they had under-aged prostitution in Argentina. But I guess you can rely on a dittohead to find it wherever it exists in the world.

Posted by: Shalimar on June 24, 2009 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

He told his staff he was "spiking some Argentina tail," and they HEARD "hiking the Appalachian Trail". Easy mistake to make.

WIN.

Posted by: jonas on June 24, 2009 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

I think this should be thoroughly investigated. Obviously, he wanted to throw people off his trail. But what if his secret went wrong, and he was really missing, kidnapped or something worse.

I think its hilarious.

Not to mention the mayor or governor of Indiana that was found drunk in a neighborhood trash can last week.

With all of this, Lindsay & Britney should consider running under the GOP ticket.

Posted by: annjell on June 24, 2009 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

For those who doubt the Argentina story, as I read the coverage, the reporter actually caught him getting off the plane from Argentina, not just in the airport. So it sounds like the tip was exactly where he was and what flight he was returning on. This was an SC reporter at the Atlanta airport, so she wasn't just hanging around the airport hoping to find something, she was told precisely where to go and when, to catch the guy.

Posted by: JoyceH on June 24, 2009 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

OMG! He's explaining why his staff *thought* he was hiking!

Posted by: karen marie on June 24, 2009 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Wrong country, I know, but PLEASE GOD someone runs a Carmen Miranda clip tonight.
(Keith?)

Posted by: Steve Paradis on June 24, 2009 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Where were the Bush daughters this weekend? I'm just askin'.

Posted by: shortstop on June 24, 2009 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

"I apologize for creating a fiction."

WTG, Sanford!

Posted by: karen marie on June 24, 2009 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

I willing to bet he was on a Meth Binge.

check his blood!!!

Posted by: annjell on June 24, 2009 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

"I developed a relationship .. started as a dear dear friend from Argentina. It began very innocently, just a casual email ..."

The interwebs are evil!

Posted by: karen marie on June 24, 2009 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

"The governor's vehicle parked at a South Carolina airport had a "baseball cap, running shoes, sunscreen, a pair of shorts, a canvas bag and a sleeping bag" inside. Did Sanford intend to come home and pretend that he actually was on the Appalachian Trail during his absence?"

This seems to be the money quote.

How many governors do you know who travel with a sleeping bag then end up in Argentina whilst the staff thinks you went hiking.

He is so busted.

Posted by: jharp on June 24, 2009 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

I love the smell of GOP self-immolation in the afternoon!!

Posted by: bluestatedon on June 24, 2009 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

I think he found some hot young thing on Craigslist & off he went.

The real question is...was it some young boy or girl, man or woman?

Posted by: kindness on June 24, 2009 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Wow--there he is acknowledging an affair, and he is resigning as chairman of the Republican Governors Association--and as governor.

At least he doesn't have his wife right beside him as Representative Vitter did.

Vitter's was worse.
And was not even contrite, and stayed on as if it was nothing to stray with prostitutes.

I feel a bit for Sanford, as he wipes his eyes.
But yeah, another one bites the dust.

Posted by: consider this on June 24, 2009 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Awwww, this is so sad ... he spent the last five days crying in Argentina.

Posted by: karen marie on June 24, 2009 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, I can accept the "Homewrecker" excuse from him for now.

Yet, this goes to show why the GOP is jealous of the Obamas having date nights.

Go figure, the GOP loves to destroy happy homes - they've been doing it for years.

Posted by: annjell on June 24, 2009 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Nope, he's not answering any questions about having his staff lie for him.

Posted by: karen marie on June 24, 2009 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Watch what the MSM and right wingers say, as a good test for IOKIYAR.
Posted by: delver

And here's the AP's take. Try reading from graf 16 on down without puking. Typical GOP fellation by the AP.

Posted by: Screamin' Demon on June 24, 2009 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

From the New York Times:

Breaking News 2:32 PM ET: Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina Admits an Affair and Apologizes to Family

Could've guessed that one! Another "family values" Republican cheating on his wife. This is becoming a weekly event for these people.

Posted by: electrolite on June 24, 2009 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK
Wow--there he is acknowledging an affair, and he is resigning as chairman of the Republican Governors Association--and as governor.

I didn't watch the broadcast, but the WSJ liveblog on it indicated he said he was resigning as chairman of the RGA but nothing about resigning as governor, and noted that at the end of the conference he did not answer that specific question.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 24, 2009 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

I suspected there was a woman involved from the first I read about this, but on the remote chance that he might have been in actual physical harm I didn't post that possibility! The reports quoting his wife claiming she didn't know where he was, along with the remarks that he supposedly wanted to get away from the kids to work on some project sent up a huge red flag. Gosh, is this another example of conservative family values in practice?

Posted by: Varecia on June 24, 2009 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

he is resigning as chairman of the Republican Governors Association--and as governor.

Uh, no, not as governor. I think that'll take a few more days.

Posted by: jimBOB on June 24, 2009 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Are we seeing a pattern here? Didn't Obama cheat on his wife by smoking cigarettes, out of her presence? I call for his resignation! NOW!

Posted by: st john on June 24, 2009 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

From CNN, he just announced he was screwing around. Typical GOP hack.

-- S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford -- after days when his whereabouts were unknown -- says he has been unfaithful to his wife.

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Posted by: MsJoanne on June 24, 2009 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Cheated on his wife? Who cares? I say he cheated on South Carolina - and Hell Hath No Fury...

Posted by: Marko on June 24, 2009 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

"baseball cap, running shoes, sunscreen, a pair of shorts, a canvas bag and a sleeping bag inside.Did Sanford intend to come home and pretend that he actually was on the Appalachian Trail during his absence?

If he did that's a pretty unconvincing set of stuff to show up with. I'm no super-hiker, but how about some real hiking boots, a water bottle, a backpack?

Posted by: Bernard Yomtov on June 24, 2009 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Condoms?

Posted by: Be Prepared on June 24, 2009 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Well, now we know.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on June 24, 2009 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

He confused Foreign Affairs with Foreign Policy...

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