It’s safe to say that the presidential aspirations Mark Sanford once entertained — and had been carefully stoking by his doggedly idiotic stance with respect to stimulus funds, the rejection thereof — have now been ground into the dust.
It is to be hoped that Sanford himself is safe, and hasn’t met with an untimely bites-the-dust ending. But nobody in the whole world seems to know.
His office tried yesterday to pretend everything is fine, putting out a statement that several media outlets — including South Carolina’s leading newspaper, The State, which had led the coverage of Sanford’s AWOL walkabout — seemed to initially swallow as solving the mystery:
S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford’s staff said late Monday that the governor is hiking on the Appalachian Trail, ending four days during which staff and state officials said they had not heard from him.
But that statement from Sanford’s staff ends nothing. They know exactly where he is, to within a thousand miles or so? Just somewhere on the 2,178 mile long Appalachian Trail.
Or, actually, if you want to be picky, they only know that that’s where he said he would be.
Nobody has spoken to him since Thursday. Nobody knows where he is. Or who he is with.
On the one hand, “there was no indication Sanford had been harmed.” On the other hand, there was no indication that he’s alive and well.
As best as anyone can tell, nobody has been “running the executive branch in the governor’s absence.”
Meanwhile, Sanford’s office — having nothing else to do, since the business of the state has ground to a standstill? — is keeping itself busy by launching pathetically childish barbs at Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer.
In a new twist to an already-bizarre episode, South Carolina’s lieutenant governor said Monday night that neither he nor Gov. Mark Sanford’s staff know where the governor is and that Sanford’s office refused his demand to talk to his fellow Republican.
Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, who was elected separately from Sanford, issued a statement to POLITICO after a day of frenzied national speculation about the governor’s whereabouts.
Bauer said he called Sanford’s office Monday and requested an “immediate phone conversation with the governor.”
“That request was denied because the governor’s chief of staff does not know where the governor is, and has not communicated with the governor since he left South Carolina last Thursday,” Bauer said. “I cannot take lightly that his staff has not had communication with him for more than four days, and that no one, including his own family, knows his whereabouts.”
Sanford’s staff struck back with:
As for Bauer’s accusation, (Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer) shot back: “We actually just tried to call the Lt. Gov., and he didn’t call back.”
What wit, what repartee! And what a striking sense of responsibility!
(Sawyer, by the way, is the same guy who put out the “taking a hike” statement.)
Maybe Sanford will still turn up, safe and sound. But it’s hard to argue that there can be a happy ending to this story for Sanford.
*** Update, 7:51 a.m. ***
Sanford has surfaced, professing surprise that his going incommunicado for five days created any kind of ripples at all. (And this is a guy who the Republican Party considered a sound candidate for President!)
A spokesman for South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford says the Republican checked in with his staff and was surprised by the attention given to his secretive vacation.
Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer says the governor called his chief of staff Tuesday morning. His last known contact with staff was five days earlier.
Sawyer says the governor was taken aback by the interest his trip to the Appalachian Trail has garnered. Sawyer says the governor decided that with all the attention he’d return to his office Wednesday.