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Mark Sanford’s bogus journey

Last Thursday, Mark Sanford, the governor of the U.S. state of South Carolina, just disappeared. No one — not his bodyguards, his wife, his staff — knew where on Earth he was.  On Monday, his staff told reporters that the idiosyncratic governor had gone for a quick solo jaunt on the Appalachian Trail. (Even though ...

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PHILADELPHIA - DECEMBER 2: South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford answer questions from the media at the meeting of the National Governor's Association after the governors spoke with President-Elect Barack Obama and Vice-President -Elect Joe Biden at Independence Hall December 2, 2008 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Obama pledged to include the state governments in the forming a package to help them through the tough economic times. Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

Last Thursday, Mark Sanford, the governor of the U.S. state of South Carolina, just disappeared. No one — not his bodyguards, his wife, his staff — knew where on Earth he was. 

On Monday, his staff told reporters that the idiosyncratic governor had gone for a quick solo jaunt on the Appalachian Trail. (Even though it was father’s day weekend. And, a special Nude Hiking Day on the trail, natch.)

Well, Sanford’s back. It turns out the governor was in Argentina for the week. The Wall Street Journal reports: 

He said it was a stressful legislative session and he wanted a break. He had considered – but vetoed – the idea of hiking the trail. “But I said ‘no’ I wanted to do something exotic,” Sanford said “… It’s a great city.”

He didn’t give many details about the trip, but said he was alone and drove along the coast.

Sanford said he cut the trip short by a day after being told by his chief of staff that he was getting lots of media attention. “I don’t know how this thing got blown out of proportion,” Sanford told the newspaper.

To be honest, this story is so bizarre I don’t quite know what to say about it. Heading to Argentina for a week sounds delightful. But to run off without telling anyone? (The last time I considered doing that, I was in the fourth grade and had just tried putting my brother down the laundry chute.)

It’s so vastly irresponsible — not just weird, but irresponsible — for a major public official to do that, in my mind, it disqualifies him for the job. Taxpayers pay to ensure the safety of their governors — who knows how much money South Carolina spent looking for the guy? That’s just for starters.  

And so, bewildered, I turn it over to you, readers. What was he doing in Argentina? Any good theories?

Update: Sanford was in Argentina with another woman, who he’s known for eight years and been engaged in an affair with for the last year or so. He’s resigned as the head of the Republican Governors’ Association; my guess is that he’ll ultimately resign as the governor of South Carolina as well.

And, what a strange, weirdly touching press conference. Key quote: “Oddly enough, I spent the last five days of my life crying in Argentina.” 

Getty Images 

Annie Lowrey is assistant editor at FP.

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