DID SANFORD BELIEVE HIS OWN B.S.?
The Mark Sanford story gets more bizarre -- now it turns out he was cruising along the coast of Buenos Aires ("I wanted to do something exotic"), not writing or hiking the Appalachian Trail. MSNBC's Mark Murray says, "Who goes to one of the world's most romantic cities in the world alone?" -- but Sanford says he was unaccompanied. (It occurs to me that profoundly bipolar people take major trips like this on impulse, sometimes alone -- but I can't find any evidence of manic behavior in news reports about Sanford.)
Not checking in with his family is peculiar -- but I'm not sure it's so odd that he didn't check in with staff. Remember, he's one of the top slingers of Limbaugh/Fox/Norquist-style talking points these days. If you say government is inherently evil, isn't it possible that eventually you'll start to believe your own bullshit? And if government is evil, isn't it a good thing when nobody knows where the governor is, even if you're the governor?*
Sanford has been accused of liking to travel on other people's dime, though I can't tell whether his degree of travel is unusual. When Sanford, then a congressman, ran against incumbent governor Jim Hodges in 2002, Hodges complained about Sanford's "taxpayer-funded junkets to 18 countries and four continents," including "Argentina (twice)" and a number of other Latin American countries. (Also see this complaint, where we learn details of a Sanford trip to Cuba, of all places, via the Bahamas.) Later, as governor, he was ranked as one of the top 50 travel spenders among state employees, "based on the total amount that he spent on trips paid by his office and those paid by the state Commerce Department. Sanford has traveled to China, Argentina and Brazil through the Commerce Department, which has travel reports showing taxpayers covering $21,488 for those trips. Sanford also spent $1,976 in travel through his office." Sanford has also, as governor, met with Argentine ambassador and his wife in South Carolina. Make of all that what you will....
*UPDATE: Via Phil Nugent, I see that Erick Erickson of RedState is pushing just the anti-government message I was talking about:
Now, here is all you need to know about this whole entire story -- the reaction from the erstwhile Republicans angry at Sanford for not being a fiscal squish and from the media all go back to their core belief that without Sanford manning the barricades of government at all times, the government will collapse and people will starve, die, and forget how to read and write.
But that did not happen. Life in South Carolina went on. The world did not end. Government did not go off the rails. That the media and politicians would react as they did says more about their world view than anything else.
It is refreshing that Mark Sanford is secure enough in himself and the people of South Carolina that he does not view himself as an indispensable man.
All government officials should do this -- in fact, they should do it permanently! They should all go Galt!!!!!1!!!