The Wall Street Journal referenced a story from the Associated Press today to bring us the latest news about the long-suffering Governor Mark Sanford. To summarize: turns out that Ms. Maria Belen Chapur, of Argentina, was not the first women Governor Mark dallied with behind his wife’s back. As the AP described the situation, he “crossed lines” with some other women but he “never crossed the ultimate line.” That line would be this: engaging in sexual intercourse with them.
It hardly seems worth speculating about what exactly he would call not crossing a line. But still I can’t help but wonder how much he would actually “do” with another woman and somehow still feel virtuous. Can you say Bill and Monica?
If we believe Sanford's story, Ms. Chapur is the only woman to experience that delightful circumstance called “crossing the line” with The Governor. But make no mistake: this was no one-night stand down there in Argentina. It meant so much more. Here’s the Sanford quote that kills me: “This was a whole lot more than a simple affair, this was a love story," Sanford said. "A forbidden one, a tragic one, but a love story at the end of the day."
A love story. A forbidden love story. A tragic love story. In fact, this was a love story with a “soul mate,” another term Sanford decided to share during an interview in his office.
I wish I were the reporter conducting that interview. My next question would have been this: For God's sake! Are you out of your mind? Are you quite mad? What kind of person not only humiliates his wife, his family and his staff by lying about an overseas affair, then goes on the record about the affair by calling it a “forbidden love story” with his “soul mate?” And who is this Maria Belen Chapur...Wallis Simpson? At least in that case, the King Edward didn’t throw over a wife and family, just his country and his throne.
(Interestingly, according to Christopher Warwick in his book, Abdication, Mrs. Simpson recalls a particular cruise with then Prince Edward VIII as the moment when they “crossed the line that marks the indefinable boundary between friendship and love.” Maybe “crossing lines” has been code for screwing around on your spouse for a decades and I missed the memo.)
But let me understand this. Sanford isn’t all bad. He’s trying to do the right thing here. He’s trying to fall back in love with his wife. Isn't that just precious? What a hardship for him! In the now immortal words of Christian Bale, “Ohhhhh, gooooood for you.” That makes you quite a gentleman, doesn’t it?
About a year ago, we all watched in mixed horror and incredulity at the stoic and somber Tilda Spitzer standing by her husband, Elliott, as he confirmed his philandering ways with a prostitute. That was difficult to stomach for numerous reasons but now in light of Stafford’s admissions, Tilda can thank God for small favors. At least Elliott wasn’t mooning over his soul mate, Ashley Dupree, to an AP reporter. At least he didn’t term his $80,000 payments to the Emperor’s Club payments for a “forbidden love story.”
The Governor had an unexpected chance to back out of the spotlight and fade away in the shadow of the late Michael Jackson. Even covering the death of Billy Mays would have been enough of a story to distract the reporters. But here's today's lesson. Use “soul mate, or say “forbidden love story” and there you are: Right back on the front page.
I’m guessing Jenny Sanford is renewing her plea for a marital separation right about now. If they get the papers filed soon, Mark can be back on plane in time to spend the long holiday weekend “hiking the Appalachian Trail.”