For those who missed it, the South Carolina governor disappeared for a few days last week. Off the grid, no cellphone, no email. His security detail, staff and family had no idea where he was -- or so they said. (Neither did his lieutenant governor, who has been more than happy to repeat the fact, nightly, on MSNBC. No love lost there, we imagine.)
It is strange and unsettling for the chief executive of any organization to be out of touch for an extended period. During his own summer vacations, Father Anonymous has noticed a distinct pattern of enhanced anxiety around the parish. (Imagine how crazy things would get if a bishop were to leave town for a while -- especially if he didn't have his new staff in place yet!)
Well, the good news is that Sanford turned up yesterday. That is good news, we hasten to speculate, primarily for his rivals. Here's why:
First, because during his absence, his staff had originally claimed to have spoken to him, then admitted that this wasn't true. The problem here is not that somebody in the governor's office lied, which they obviously did, so much as the distinct appearance of a confused, amateurish cover-up.
Second, because when Gov. Sanford did re-appear, his staff announced that he had spent four days hiking on the Appalachian Trail. Really? And nobody at home saw you pack your bags for a four-day solo camping trip? That seems unlikely. Moreover, it is accepted practice among solo hikers to always let somebody know where you are going. Failure to do this on the part of, say, a single twnrty-something might be a sign of youthful recklessness; on the part of a middle-aged, married man, it is much worse. And on the part of a governor, it's just crazy.
Or it would be, if the hiking story were not another amateurish lie by his staff.
Third, because today's story is that Gov. Sanford was in Buenos Aires. And he just doesn't know what the fuss is all about.
The GOP thought this man might be a 2012 presidential candidate? Seriously?