The trail of passion leading from the South Carolina statehouse to an apartment off of Avenida Libertador is befitting of Argentina’s reputation as the land of impossible romances. The set-up is perfect: Mark Sanford, a successful U.S. politician, throws all caution to the wind, turns off his cell phone, escapes to the arms of a woman waiting in Buenos Aires – and hopes he won’t be missed.
But this romance was more impossible than most. Followed by the over-curious (and some political opponents, no doubt) stories circulated in the press about the missing governor. The gist of the story was that while the governor’s press office said he was hiking solo on the Appalachian Trail, the governor’s wife said he was off writing somewhere alone. While these people weren’t worried about Sanford, others were obsessed. The Wall Street Journal ran a front-page story about the “missing” governor. Since when are the uncertain whereabouts of a politician material for a front-page story in the Journal… unless you already know how it’s going to end?
In the stories, Sanford was repeatedly described as “eccentric.” People said they had come to expect the unexpected from the governor. They pointed to Sanford’s decision to sleep on a cot in his Washington, D.C. office when he was a congressman rather than rent a taxpayer-paid-for apartment as most representatives do. Then there was the time he walked onto the floor of legislature with two pigs… to protest frivolous pork-barrel spending.
(Truth is, I’m liking this guy more and more.)
The spectacular fireworks surrounding Sanford’s Buenos Aires affair would be amusing if it weren’t for the hypocrisy rampant in the discussion. If everyone who had ever been unfaithful were barred from calling for the governor’s resignation, I suspect the sound we would hear would be much closer to silence. (And speaking of morality, since when is it proper to publish private love letters in the press?)
Buenos Aires seethes with passion. From the dancehalls to the cafes to the sidewalks, the city emanates a powerful call to all who want to lose their heads. Sanford, it turns out, was one of those.
Chalk up yet another victory for passion over reason.