Mark Sanford, term-limited South Carolina governor, 2012 GOP presidential nominee short-lister, now sees his career and marriage in ashes. He may even see his continued freedom curtailed, as impeachment proceedings for his going AWOL are likely. In fact, his last trip to Argentina -- which he'd planned to take ten days, but was cut short at five -- may have been the preliminary move he was going to make to ditching his wife, kids, and the governorship all at one go; as bmaz and Marcy say, you don't take a ten-day or even five-day trip to Argentina just to say goodbye.
So why haven't they gotten divorced yet? Two reasons -- the kids and The Family. No, not their own -- this one.
More after the jump. Crossposted at Oxdown.
Let's look at the kids' part of the equation first:
Okay, you're Mark Sanford. You are, to judge from your e-mails, tired of being governor, troubled in your marriage, and feeling the first real soul-changing love of your life -- and it's with a woman who's not your wife.
Then you take that ill-fated "hiking trip" and the story of your affair comes out, and your political career -- a career your wife helped build, if not out-and-out directed -- is now in ruins. You face shame, loss of power, an ice-cold situation at home with your spouse, and even the possibility of prison time for misuse of your office.
What is there to keep you from running away from all that? Really, even if the mistress can't or won't take you in, why haven't you handed in your resignation and started divorce proceedings already, just to escape from all of that?
Easy: You want to see your kids again, if for no other reason than that you don't want their only view of you to be the acid-etched one your wife will provide, and you know that won't happen if you leave. So you stay. (Even though there's ample evidence that staying together "for the sake of the kids" dumps a hell of a lot of pain on the kids: "Mom and Dad aren't happy and it's because of us.")
But what about Jenny Sanford? Why does she want to stay with a man who doesn't seem to want to stay with her?
Power. If she can't get to the White House through Mark, well, then, she'll do so on her own. (It's not as if she doesn't have the brains to do it -- hell, she ran his campaigns and was one of his chief gubernatorial advisers.) And she certainly has money, as the Skil heiress. Plus, there's a Bill/Hillary Clinton dynamic here: His career may be done, but she can use the sympathy generated by her position as Grossly Wronged Wife to get first a spot on Capitol Hill (perhaps as early as next year, if Lindsey Graham's hints about his own "sins" lead to him foregoing a re-election campaign)
But she'll need to stay in the good graces of the Fundies -- especially of The Family (or "C Street" as her hubby Mark referenced them in his tearful press conference). And Fundies don't like divorce at all. In addition, she can’t let Democratic women like Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Edwards or Silda Spitzer outdo her in the Stand By Your Man department.
So expect to see them stay together, with tight, fake smiles and their kids serving as human shields in the public photo-ops, and eventually a spate of "Vote for Jenny" signs appearing in their locality.
UPDATE: Looks like I'm not the only one thinking that Jenny's going to come out from behind the scenes politically:
Can they make her the governor now?