The main Mark Sanford mystery no one has asked about

The New York Times says that while Gov. Sanford’s admission of an affair has ended “the mystery surrounding his disappearance over Father’s Day weekend … his confession and apology, in a rambling, nationally televised news conference, left other mysteries unsolved, like whether he had lied to his staff members as late as Monday about his whereabouts, whether the affair had definitively ended, whether he would resign from the governorship and whether he would even have acknowledged the affair had he not been met at the airport in Atlanta by a reporter upon his return.”

The Times has left out the biggest mystery: why did Sanford simply disappear for a week, which virtually assured that the affair would be made public when he returned and also assured that he would get in trouble for having disappeared? Why didn’t he tell his staff that he was taking off for a few days, and leave them a number where he could be reached? Perhaps he felt there was no way he could visit his mistress for that long without the truth becoming known. So basically he threw over the traces. If his lady friend had lived in, say, Atlanta, he could have visited her there with no one being the wiser. But with her being in Argentina, and with him apparently needing to spend serious time with her, there was no way to do it without its coming out.

- end of initial entry -

LA writes:

An L-dotter tries to put it all together:

Reply 12—Posted by: mollybob, 6/24/2009 9:44:13 PM

Speculative timeline:

1.) Sanford engages in (primarily) online sex with “dear dear friend,” using a government computer for an added thrill;

2.) Sanford fights harrowing and ultimately unsuccessful battle with the Washington Mob;

3.) Feeling vulnerable, Mark confesses adutlery to the Mrs. when she confronts him with evidence conveniently provided by the DNC;

4.) Jenny gives Mark the boot, he subsequetly snaps and runs into the waiting (albeit distant) arms of Maria, who tells him to go home and get a good shrink;

5.) Mark slinks back and decides he needs to fess up before millions of people as the ultimate act of humiliation.

I clearly have too much time on my hands.

A reader writes:

I am neither offended nor outraged by Mark Sanford’s affair. Rather, I am disgusted by his craven and self-abnegating confession/apology. The media portrays Sanford as an insensitive, philandering liar. That’s always the story line in these situations. It is feminist dogma. The wife is always innocent and suffering. Nothing she did, or didn’t do, explains or justifies or even mitigates her husband’s affair. Life isn’t so simple. I strongly suspect that his wife is cold, rational, and asexual. An excellent campaign manager, perhaps. But not a satisfying companion for a virile man. Tellingly, when she split up with Sanford a few weeks ago, his wife warned him not to try to contact her or their children. Classic feminist bullying (which is facilitated by the media and the courts). Deny the husband access to his own children because he no longer desires the wife. But how much responsibility does she bear for this situation? As many married men will attest, there surely were numerous conversations over the past decade when Sanford complained to his wife about her lack of sexual interest. She always had an excuse (children, work, being tired, being older, whatever). So he finally found what he wanted, and needed, elsewhere. The only thing I fault Sanford for is accepting the feminist pronouncement of guilt and humiliating himself before a national audience. And also for being such a complete idiot in handling his affair.

Another reader writes:

Without going into unnecessary details, I wholeheartedly agree with the reader who brought up the aspect of “it takes two to tango.” Because I am a pretty open and frank person who easily engages with other people, I have heard all too often from middle aged men complaining that their wives are freezing them out of intimacy, spending more time at night on the computer or phone. It would be nice if traditionalist religious leaders every now and then remind the married women in the pews of their marital vows and responsibilities. Sex should never be withheld from their husbands, EXCEPT in cases of mutual consent. One reason God ordained marriage was not only for the procreation of children but as a preventive measure against fornication.

Most virile, healthy, active men need sex several times a week. Period.

Kilroy M. writes from Australia:

As an aside, Sanford was on the cover of The American Conservative earlier this year (March 2009). The cover article, “Plain right,” opens with “Mark Sanford is easy to overlook.” Well, not any longer, I suppose. As a conservative and Trad Catholic, I have views about marital fidelity, but I don’t feel comfortable casting judgment on the Governor: sex, loneliness and the frustrations associated with marital problems are very powerful forces, and man is a weak creature. We are all fallen, let’s not forget. Yes there is a right and wrong, and what the Governor did was plainly destructive to a lot of people, not only himself. The man committed himself to a course of action that was obviously going to lead to his public downfall; accordingly, I believe his choices were not made rationally or with a clear mind. In situations like these I think we all have to be modest in our critiques. I’m certainly no saint. Like your prior two readers, I feel sorry for the guy as well. I also find the lack of commentary on why he felt driven to do this and where his wife has been in all of it quite revealing about society and its default condemnation of men.

LA replies:

The picture is still confused. Expanding on a point I’ve previously made with regard his comment that he spent the five days in Argentina “crying,” Gail Collins in today’s New York Times says that Sanford went to Argentina in order to end his relationship with his mistress. But why behave in such a stunningly irresponsible way (i.e., his going AWOL for a week), why throw away his reputation, career, family, etc. for a relationship that he was intending to end? It makes no sense.

Thus the situation remains fundamentally mysterious. But the answer seems to have something to do with deep emotional forces at work in Sanford.

Van Wijk writes:

One of your readers wrote: “Most virile, healthy, active men need sex several times a week. Period.”

Wrong. An active man may desire sex however often, but sex is not a need. It is not sustenance or shelter, and equating it with such goes a long way toward excusing his behavior. If a man is so lacking in self-discipline that he is willing to break the oath he swore to his wife before God and the state, he is worthy of condemnation. So while there may be many circumstances leading up to his decision to break his oath, these do not mitigate the fact that he is an oath-breaker and should be ashamed for the rest of his days.

If we say that sex is a fundamental need rather than a desire, then when a man’s wife ceases to provide him with sex he is blameless when he seeks it elsewhere. Consciously or not, characterizing a desire as a need sanctions that desire in all its forms.

June 26

Kilroy replies to LA:

“Thus the situation remains fundamentally mysterious.”

Well, your mistake is that you are looking for reason. Emotional turmoil is rarely if ever rational. Of course his behaviour is difficult to grasp. But that is because we are not in an irrational mindset, while trying to imagine his. That’s like the liberal secularist thinking that jihad can be prevented by “dialogue.”

Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 25, 2009 08:10 AM | Send

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