Janice Shaw Crouse
The process is predictable. An affair is exposed; the politician has his teary press conference; then the feeding frenzy starts. One of the most frequently-stated opinions is that no one should care if a politician has an affair. His political positions, some people claim, are more important than his personal relationships. Who cares if a politician has an affair?

The Sanford-Chapur affair, according to the e-mails between the couple, was a “love affair,” so numerous people believe Gov. Sanford ought to follow his heart and go to his lover. Sympathy for the governor is widespread because he was distraught after spending “five days crying in Argentina” — never mind that he had originally planned to spend 10 days with Mrs. Chapur before his infidelity was exposed.

Even so, the romantic dreamers have no shortage of pity for a couple caught in a “hopelessly impossible” passionate relationship.

But, let’s look at the facts. Gov. Sanford turned to Mrs. Chapur again and again via e-mail and long-distance visits; there is no evidence that he attempted to turn away from temptation. Gov. Sanford was not honest in his accounting of the times they got together. He pretended to end the relationship when he and a counselor met with Maria, over dinner in New York, to break things off. Yet the emails and visits continued. Amazingly, even after his wife accidentally learned of the affair, Gov. Sanford asked her repeatedly for permission to go to Argentina to see Mrs. Chapur.

Can you imagine anything more bizarre? He asked his wife for permission to go visit his mistress!

One of the major factors influencing people’s support and respect for a person holding public office is the matter of “trust.” Should the public care that a sitting governor lied for over a year about a deeply-romantic relationship? Should they care that he wrote lengthy, emotional e-mails to a woman he met at a dance and visited occasionally over the span of nearly a decade? Or that the first night he met her, they talked long into the night about her problems with her husband? Or that his so-called “counseling” included e-mails with “sexual details”?

What do those factors say about the man’s judgment, professional demeanor, and emotional maturity?

Janice Shaw Crouse

Janice Shaw Crouse is a former speechwriter for George H. W. Bush and now political commentator for the Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee.
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