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Sunday, July 5, 2009

“Romance in Durango”: A Dylanesque dilettante or Mark Sanford’s swansong?

Soon the horse will take us to Durango

Agarrame mi vida
Soon the desert will be gone
Soon you will be dancing the fandango.

It looks like it just may be time to retire the old adage, “It takes two to Tango.”

Apparently, if you’re Mark Sanford, it only takes one.

Dancing solo lat week before a room full of AP reporters, the scandal-emblazoned South Carolina Governor put his best foot forward, addressing head on the allegations of a romantic rendezvous with Argentinean newscaster Maria Belen Chapur.

Not since Bill Clinton’s contemptuous, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” declaration at the height of his own sex scandal has a politician engaged in such a virtuoso performance.

And while Sanford exhibited none of the suave, smooth moves that made Bill Clinton a poster boy of cool, ethereal detachment, the governor’s response to doing the hokey poky did share one similarity with Clinton's infamous finger-wagging incident: both engaged in a breath-taking dance to the death.

In hindsight, Sanford’s strategy seemed sound enough. Tell the press everything, and hope that by not sidestepping the charges of infidelity the media will forgive you of your trespasses.

It hasn’t quite worked out that way.

In fact, Sanford’s decision to abandon the expected soft-shoe approach and come clean has completely cleared the dance floor of any prospective partners other than his own ravenous guilt.

The wife. Having had a hand in nearly every facet of her husband's ascent to the pinnacle of South Carolina politics, no one is going to mistake Jenny Sanford for a wallflower. Yet despite her understated approach to managing her husband’s affairs, chances are she won’t be stepping out of the shadows singing Tammy Wynette’s magnanimous marital mantra, “Stand By Your Man,” any time soon.

The GOP. Members of the Republican party also seem to recognize that following the Governor’s lead is probably isn’t the best course of action, either. To date, 14 of the 27 Republicans in the state Senate, and at least six newspapers have called for the governor to step down.

The other woman. And what about Maria Belen Chapur? Exactly where does the Argentinean beauty at the heart of this whole sordid affair stand on the issue? Sanford’s hot tamale isn’t talking. Bar extradition, she’s made it clear she plans to stay put on the Patagonia.

And so, with no one willing to take a turn on the dance floor, Sanford turned to the pages of the Good Book for companionship, citing a parallel between his plight and that of the world’s most infamous adulterer. "[King] David failed, literally, and yet he reconstructed his life," Sanford recently told reporters.

Upon reflection, however, maybe the analogy Sanford should have cited to parallel his rather precarious situation isn’t the story of David’s seduction of Bathsheba, but rather the fabled story of Jericho, in which the seemingly impermeable walls came tumbling down in ruins with the sound of a single trumpet.

Of course, Sanford didn’t need someone to blow the whistle on his indefensible indiscretions. He brought his world crashing down all on his own with his incessant pronouncements of unrequited love.

And while the press certainly amplified Sanford’s overly affectionate opines for Ms. Chapur, the real problem isn’t the intense scrutiny of media. Sanford may be the consummate politician, but somewhere along the way he overlooked his most important constituent– his wife.

There’s no question marriage is a complicated endeavor, especially for those who chose to live their lives in the fish-eye lens. But the difference between a politician like Mark Sanford and a pop star like Bob Dylan mourning the memory of his “one true love” is while the former may feign imperfection; the latter doesn’t have the luxury of disingenuous posturing.

In an odd way, it's as if we want our artists to be broken and emotionally askew. With politicians, however, it’s different. Yes, we place them on the spotlight. But the last thing we want them to do is wither when the heat is turned up.

Mark Sanford maintains his south of the border soirée was worth the fire he’s endured. And while the “moth to the flame” metaphor is in keeping with his undaunted persistence to be with his self-proclaimed “soul mate,” perhaps someone should remind the love-struck Sanford of this simple fact—

While the sight of a moth flickering fecklessly around an open flame is indeed the most beautiful of dances, in the end it's the moth that gets burned…

Hot chili peppers in the blistering sun
Dust on my face and my cape
Me and Magdalena on the run
I think this time we shall escape.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My thought on Sanford is this: if you don't like his behavior, don't vote for him when he comes back up for re-election. If he can hold it together for that long. Dylan, on the other hand, has unraveled marvelously over the years.