McFeatters: Mark Sanford offers some good, salacious fun
If the citizens of his congressional district in Charleston, S.C., are either very forgetful or very forgiving, the corridors of power in Washington may once again be graced by former Gov. Mark Sanford, a politician who has set new standards in hypocrisy and euphemism.
Governor, a desperate Washington press corps turns its lonely eyes to you.
With a few notable exceptions -- Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota comes to mind -- congressional Democrats tend to be a bunch of stiffs. Can you imagine being locked in a room for any length of time with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada?
The House has its freshman and sophomore Republicans, and while they're dogmatic, full of weird ideas and talk crazy from time to time, they're just not funny. No wonder House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio is looking more and more like a basset whose owner has died.
Thus we may have the second coming of Sanford, who earlier served three terms in the House before leaving to run for governor of South Carolina.
Sanford, who has since admitted to "crossing many lines" in the course of his marriage to Jenny Sanford, voted to impeach Bill Clinton for his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky, calling the president's conduct "reprehensible." When the unfaithful Newt Gingrich of Georgia stepped down as speaker, it turned out that so had his likely replacement, Rep. Bob Livingston, R-La.
Sanford supported Livingston's resignation: "The bottom line is ... he lied under a different oath and that is the oath to his wife." Where are Old Testament bolts of lightning when you need them?
As governor, Sanford was noted for three things: A refusal to spend money (California's Arnold Schwarzenegger, another GOP governor prone to stray, offered to take South Carolina's share of the stimulus if Sanford didn't want it); carrying two pigs into the state House chamber to dramatize his opposition to pork-barrel spending (apparently, Sanford thought Palmetto State lawmakers were too thick to make the connections); and abruptly disappearing.
America's governors do a lot of crazy things, but they are not prone to disappear. An exception that comes to mind is Democrat Earl Long of Louisiana, who would occasionally disappear on a bender or into a Texas mental institution, but Louisianans tend to take a relaxed view of these peccadilloes.
As governor, Sanford disappeared, completely, for five days in 2009. The lieutenant governor, his security detail, his top aides, even his wife had no idea where he was. (He disappeared again the following year, but only for a few days, enough, however, for an Internet search engine to install a standing link, "Where is Mark Stanford now?")
On his return from the earlier sabbatical, he confessed that he had been in Argentina with a woman named Maria Chapur, whom he described as his "soul mate."
When Sanford first disappeared, aides lamely suggested he was hiking the Appalachian Trail in search of solitude to gather his thoughts. "Hiking the Appalachian Trail" has now become a euphemism for exploring the hot-sheet motels of Route One. Our political vocabulary is richer for having that.
Divorced by Jenny, barred from the family home, he decided to resume his political career, easily winning the GOP primary in his old district. However, the killjoys at the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee -- we told you they were humorless -- have cut off Sanford's funding because he has been caught, apparently several times, violating a court order by sneaking in and out of his old family home using his cellphone as a flashlight. He was warned as long as two years ago about trespassing and now faces a May 9 court date.
That is two days after a special election to fill his old seat in a race against Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of the very funny political comedian, Stephen Colbert.
Fortunately for Sanford, she appears to be an earnest, honest, well-prepared good-government type with an impressive resume in business development.
She sounds like she'll be no source of titillating fun at all. Drat.
Dale McFeatters is a columnist for the Scripps Howard News Service.