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David Rees

David Rees

Posted: June 25, 2009 01:26 PM

Is Mark Sanford America's First Emo Governor?



If you're a late-thirty-something like me, you've spent the last ten years bewildered by "emo," a youth movement celebrating histrionic displays of emotion, skinny jeans, and hair that looks like it was put on backwards.

I'm no emo expert, but I'm pretty sure 49-year-old Republican governors from South Carolina are not its core demographic.

However, as a great man once said, the arc of history is long... but it bends towards Dashboard Confessional.

Emo's moment has arrived.

If Barack Obama is America's first nerd president, surely Mark Sanford is America's first emo governor.

EXHIBIT 1: The scandal. Sanford had an affair with a "dear, dear friend" in Argentina with whom he emailed/texted about emotions and relationships. In his own words: "We swapped e-mails, whatever..." PURE EMO!

EXHIBIT 2: The press conference. In contrast to most politicians' revelations of infidelity -- which unfurl with a defensive, android predictability -- Sanford explored the deepest emotional caves of his being with a teary-eyed grandeur. That he undertook this psychosexual spelunking on live television is pure emo. I raise my lighter to him.

EXHIBIT 3: His vocabulary. Listen to these lines from his press conference; they could only come from the mouth of a man steeped in the proud institutions and noble traditions of emo:

"From a heart level, there was something real..."
--This is basically the First Law of Emo. Sanford gets it. He lives it.

"The biggest self of self is, indeed, self..."
--My understanding is that this is what 90% of My Chemical Romance lyrics are like.

"The odyssey that we're all on in life is with regard to heart..."
--I guarantee a suburban kid has already thought, "Hey, that would look pretty good carved into my arm."

The emotional high/low/head-exploding-point of the press conference was when Sanford admitted to having spent five days crying in Argentina, which is the most emo thing anyone has ever done in all of history. (By the way, "Five Days Crying" is a great name for an emo band, as is another phrase from Sanford's press conference: "Zone of Protectiveness.")

EXHIBIT 4: His emails. Basic human decency prevents me from quoting Sanford's private emails; rest assured they are more emo than Robert Smith's eyeliner.

EXHIBIT 5: His band. During his press conference, Sanford referred to his participation in "C Street" with a "spiritual giant" named Cubby Culbertson. I assume C Street is Sanford's emo band (he looks like a rhythm guitarist) and that Cubby Culbertson is the band's roadie. (The Fifth Law of Rock states that it's impossible for a "giant" named Cubby to not be a roadie.)

EXHIBIT 6: The subtext. Sanford's entire press conference was basically a cover version of this proto-emo classic.

Face it: The man is a living, breathing preview of the Pete Wentz administration.