Married South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s recent admission of a lengthy affair with an Argentine mistress proves yet again that the heavy burden of public office can come to bear down so heavily on the shoulders of these poor souls that sometimes the only solution is to open that pressure valve controlled by their fly zipper. Before the next politician goes down that road, I’d like to offer some general advice to them in my capacity as a political and media strategist.
1) Leave God out of it. Politicians who end up ensnared in sex scandals don’t just wake up one day to discover their libido is in charge. The surprise is only ever on the part of the public – not the person responsible for the behavior. Knowing that you’re uncontrollably horny and possibly headed for disaster, how about taking care that God isn’t seen riding shotgun with you? This will ensure that he doesn’t end up getting thrown from your pimpmobile when it inevitably comes crashing to an abrupt halt. God was first spotted in Sanford’s passenger seat as he moralized against Bill Clinton for his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Then Sanford conveniently dragged God into his own mess by holding him responsible for the fact that he’s not going to step down as Governor. Quite simply, he’s staying because God told him to. Even God has to be rolling his eyes at that one, along with the rest of us. Instead of using God as a scapegoat for whatever you did or are about to do, voters would respond better to the idea of accepting full responsibility and accountability.
2) Keep your apologies targeted. Cheating on your wife doesn’t mean that you cheated on taxpayers. Don’t confuse the two. If you didn’t do anything in breach of public trust, then just keep your mouth shut completely. People who argue that politicians who screw around on their wives only prove that they don’t have the requisite character to hold public office don’t know what they’re talking about. Lack of character in one area of your life doesn’t create some kind of slippery slope into another. That’s like arguing a bank robber is likely to commit pedophilia. Point this out, if necessary, by saying that whatever private difficulties you’re facing really have nothing to do with your job, and you’d appreciate being left alone to get on with it.