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Elizabeth Rigby

Elizabeth Rigby

Posted: July 5, 2009 05:52 PM

Mark Sanford is the Luckiest Politician on the Planet


It has been merely twelve days since Mark Sanford's disastrously-rambling press conference in which he admits to an on-going affair, not to mention leaving the country secretly without letting others know where he was going. Now 69 percent of South Carolina's citizens want him to resign. And more and more elected officials are calling for his resignation. But, what is most shocking is not that he remains in office, but how far this potentially-career-ending story remains from the top news of the day.

This political damage-control does not stem from shrewd political spin by Sanford or his associates. In fact, Wayne Washington of South Carolina's The State newspaper articulates it best by stating: "Political strategists say Sanford has done just about everything wrong in his attempt to manage the fallout from his affair with a woman in Argentina. He lied about it. He tried to cover it up. Then, he admitted it -- parts of it, anyway. And then he offered up sensational details, some of which contradicted sensational details he had offered before."

Instead, Sanford has benefited from a series of scandal-eclipsing news stories. Most notably, the death of Michael Jackson the day after Sanford's news conference. At that point, I thought, this guy is one lucky politician. But I expected that as the wall-to-wall MJ coverage subsided (at least for a few days until Tuesday's memorial), public scrutiny would turn back to Mark Sanford. Yet, like manna from the heavens, on Friday came another rambling, unexpected, bizarre press conference from a Republican Governor--but shockingly it wasn't Sanford this time. In a "statement " (best described by Paul Begala here on Huffington Post) Palin announced that she was resigning--shifting attention even further from Mark Sanford and his foibles.

At this point, I realized Sanford was the luckiest politician on the planet.

But, I can't really figure out why. I am sure it isn't good karma. This is the guy who refused federal stimulus funds for his state's many unemployed workers (third highest rate in the nation) and actually went to court to try to return federal funding to fill budget gaps in South Carolina's public schools and universities. Some others suggest that his luck might simply be true love winning out in the end. Maybe.

Regardless, it is hard to believe his luck will continue. In fact, I tremble at the thought of a news story that could possibly knock media-sensations Michael Jackson and Sarah Palin from this week's headlines. Instead, I predict that Sanford's luck will run out long before he stops talking himself out of office. I mean, even Jon Stewart chastised Sanford's media savy, saying: "God killed Michael Jackson to save your a**; and you gave ANOTHER INTERVIEW?" [video below]

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Shut Up, Mark Sanford
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