Last year South Carolina became one of the biggest punchlines in politics when Republican Gov. Mark Sanford, a presidential hopeful, tearfully admitted to an extramarital affair with an Argentine woman. Since his pathetic public apology, Sanford’s wife, Jenny, divorced him, appeared in Vogue, and revealed all in her bestselling book Staying True.
After Sanford’s presidential dreams disappeared, all he had to do was wait until January for his term to end. But waiting seems to be too hard for Sanford, who announced to reporters Wednesday that he spent the weekend in Florida with former mistress María Belén Chapur with hopes to rekindle their romance. Sanford called Chapur his soulmate during his tear-stained admission last summer. Cue eye roll.
The real problem with having drama queen Sanford in the governor’s house is the ease with which he can divert attention from the real issues. South Carolina has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, at 11.7 percent, and routinely has some of the lowest test scores in education. But the only thing making headlines is Sanford gossip; the newest admission came during a press conference where he was to discuss proposed fee increases to balance the state’s $5 billion budget. South Carolina's main newspaper, even has an entire section on its site dedicated to the Sanford affair.
What’s worse, South Carolina has a lieutenant governor, currently running for governor, who equates people on welfare to stray animals, and other ridiculous political snafus (proposing to ban federal currency, anyone?).
The South Carolina Legislature decided against impeaching Sanford mostly to avoid giving André Bauer, the aforementioned lieutenant governor, the “incumbent” title in this year’s election. So for the past year Sanford has become a truly lame-duck governor, keeping the seat warm for whoever comes next. And in the mean time, South Carolina citizens must watch Sanford, Bauer, and whoever else decides to put his foot in his mouth (i.e., Waterloo) play politics and embarrass the state. Oh, and do nothing about fixing the Palmetto State’s actual problems.