Mark Sanford: Don't Cry For Me Argentina

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The most nervous man in America at this moment? My money's on South Carolina governor Mark Sanford, who's scheduled to give a press conference at 2:00 p.m. EST today. He's facing the ultimate lose/lose situation. The latest story is that he zipped off to Argentina on a whim — without telling his wife, staff, or even the lieutenant governor, who would have ostensibly been in charge during his absence. Assuming he just went to take in the sights of Buenos Aires, eat some charrusco, and hang out on the beach in this sexy, alive, and European-built city, he still comes off as a nutjob. And that's the best case scenario.

If, on the other hand, as some suspect, he was off on a romp with a paramour (for his sake, let's hope it was a female) or catting around with the locals, he'd better not try to fib about it. It's well-nigh impossible, unless you're Steve Jobs, to go anywhere secretly these days and cover your tracks. The hotel where he stayed will be public knowledge in no time, if it isn't already. If he used a government cell phone, those records are public information. Ditto with a state-issued credit card (though surely he wasn't that stupid). He did, rather stupidly, use a state vehicle to drive to the Atlanta airport, where it was parked for the duration of his trip.

It's possible that the "press conference" will consist of nothing more than a statement from Sanford and a walkaway with no follow-up questions. Bad idea. Another scenario is that he will make a full confession of some un-family-values-like behavior, with his loyal wife and family standing behind him, as he announces, say, an alcohol problem and an upcoming trip to rehab and asks for our prayers.

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The worst case scenario would be if he continues to try and brazen it out with more lies. If that happens, he's toast. These days, being a public figure means just that. He may need a good lawyer. Elliot Spitzer comes to mind.

UPDATE: It was an affair. Classic. And my headline was soooo appropriate: [Sanford] told reporters he spent "the last five days of my life crying in Argentina" and the affair is now over. Sanford, a rumored 2012 presidential candidate, refused to say whether he'll leave office.

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