How pathetic is it that when Mark Sanford surfaced yesterday — and it’s probably best to keep reminding ourselves that we only have his office’s word for that, that his office has not exactly established a reputation for truthtelling in the last few days, and that his wife still hadn’t heard from him yesterday afternoon, even after five days of unexplained absence — the best story he and his spokesman could come up with was the pretense that this had always been the plan all along.
Here’s the this that they think America is going to swallow:
• When Sanford decided to go hiking on the Appalachian Trail for more than six days (he’s returning today after six days, earlier than planned, because of all the attention his innocent little hiking trip has drawn), during which time he did not plan to keep in touch with his staff, he did not take any steps to put Lt. Governor Andre Bauer in charge during his absence. And Sanford still cannot for the life of him figure out why anyone would find any of this strange, and puzzling, and irresponsible, and mysterious, and worthy of media and public attention.
• When Sanford decided to go hiking on the Appalachian Trail for more than six days to recharge his batteries, he decided that neither his wife nor his children should know where he was going or what he was doing, even though he was going to be gone over the Father’s Day weekend, and even though Sanford is the kind of dad who “makes a point of calling his sons each night when he is working late or on the campaign trail.”
• Although Atlanta is not exactly on the way from the executive mansion to the Appalachian Trail, Sanford apparently first headed for Atlanta, before turning off both his phones (which also had the curiously unexpected effect of rendering his subsequent movements and whereabouts untraceable).
• Oops, silly me! I completely forgot to mention that when Sanford decided to go hiking on the Appalachian Trail for more than six days to recharge his batteries, and flew from Columbia, S.C. to Atlanta in furtherance of that plan, he decided to leave behind in his car at the Columbia, S.C. airport “(a) baseball cap, running shoes, sunscreen, a pair of shorts, a canvas bag and a sleeping bag.”
• Is it reasonable to assume that if Sanford had bought a ticket from Columbia to Atlanta under his own name, this fact would have surfaced yesterday when Sanford’s mysterious disappearance garnered so much national attention? That the same intrepid investigators who turned up that last-known cell-phone trace in Atlanta would have turned up this airline ticket too? Should we conclude then that when Sanford decided to go hiking on the Appalachian Trail for more than six days to recharge his batteries, and decided to fly from Columbia, S.C. to Atlanta in furtherance of that plan, he first thought to himself: “What a great joke it will be on my Republican political rivals in the great state of South Carolina and the media if I fly under an assumed name so that my movements later appear to be fraught with mystery!”? And that he happened to be carrying with him some fake ID that allowed him to travel under an assumed name? (Unless the first step in hiking the Appalachian Trail was to fly from Columbia to Atlanta in somebody’s private plane? Somebody who never came forward publicly yesterday to explain that they knew where Sanford had gone, or made a private call to Sanford’s wife to let her know that all was well.)
So which of the following explanations do you find most believable:
• Sanford has been having an extended affair with an underage farm animal, and a routine weekend liaison turned nasty when the u.f.a. told Sanford that he (yes, unfortunately, a male u.f.a.) was breaking off the affair and was going to take his story to Fox News‘ Megyn Kelly.
• Sanford went off to meet with his Chinese masters for what was supposed to be a short debriefing-cum-strategy-session, but developed medical complications after a routine surgical procedure to replace one of his monitoring implants, and had to stay underground for six days.
• Sanford went for an innocent little hike, tra la la la…