Former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford, whose political
career ended when he admitted an extramarital affair, is engaged to
his ex-mistress from Argentina.
Sanford, a one-time rising Republican star mentioned as a
possible presidential candidate, said in a statement to
CNN that he and Maria Belen Chapur are “both happy and
excited” about their engagement.
Sanford is the conservative movement’s Greek tragedy. He was
charismatic and thoughtful. He was a responsible belt-tightener. He
thought South Carolina’s Republican legislature was soft
on spending. He even brought live pigs to the State House to
protest their pork-barrel ways.
And he irritated all the right people.
As Newsweek put it, “By now, Mark Sanford is
accustomed to life outside the mainstream. Since arriving in
Congress in 1995, he has opposed new spending so mulishly that many
critics, including some big-government Bushies, consider him an
incorrigible ideologue.” In the age of Bush wars and
budget-busting, Sanford was a cool drink. He kept alive Barry
Goldwater’s ideas and spirit (if not his temperament).
And then he went for a little hike on the Appalachian Trail.
The presidential race could have been very different if Sanford
hadn’t committed adultery. With the rise of the Tea Party,
Sanford’s small-government bullishness came back in style.
Conservatives would have likely flocked to him.
Then again the presidential race also could have been very
different if Sanford committed adultery but didn’t admit it. The
Democrats have an army of oppo researchers just to dig through Ann
Romney’s wardrobe. It’s hard to think they wouldn’t have discovered
Sanford’s dirty little secret.
That would have been some October surprise.
About the Author
Matt Purple is The American Spectator’s assistant managing editor.
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