Speechless. Stunned. Incredulous.
And yet, should I be?
Yes, he was missing for six days. Yes, his staff kept giving conflicting stories as to where he was. And yes, such circumstances certainly suggested some kind of tomfoolery was going on.
But when Mark Sanford, the governor of South Carolina widely seen as a Republican presidential hopeful for 2012, stood before the cameras today in Columbia and confessed to an ongoing affair with a woman in Argentina, we could have fallen off our chairs. He was not, as he apparently told his staff, hiking along the Appalachian Trail.
In a surreal press conference, where for some inexplicable reason his aides allowed him to show up without a prepared text and even take questions from the media (!), Sanford apologized to his wife and family, to his staff and his state and his party, and resigned as chair of the Republican Governors Association.
He is term limited for 2010 and he only has a year and a half left as governor. But it's hard to imagine him staying in office much longer. Members of both parties have fought with him for much of his term, and many will be pushing him to leave.
He said he's known this woman for eight years but it became romantic about a year ago.
Sanford had made national headlines months ago when he refused to take stimulus money for South Carolina out of principle.
When it comes to Mark Sanford, stimulus now has a new meaning.