There are few universal truths in this world: Murphy’s Law, Occam’s Razor, Surliness of CVS employees, and the cruelty of children are among them. I have been thinking about South Carolina Governor, Mark Sanford, and his indelicately handled affair in light of that last truth.
The governor is father to four school age sons each of whom will most likely be subjected to additional cruelties at the hands and mouths of their classmates and peers. Their father’s careless indiscretions are to be blamed for each taunt.
I was nine years old when I learned of both my parent’s infidelities. My largely carefree existence was shattered – most fourth graders lack the ability to differentiate the shared aspects of parenthood versus the private acts of the parent. In breaking faith with each other (and allowing me to learn of their breaches,) my mother and father broke faith with me too. For the first time in my life, when either told me the sky was blue, I had to go outside to confirm it. I became withdrawn, sullen, and refused to discuss the matter – not that either parent tried. Friendships faded as I couldn’t embarrass my parents, my family with such disclosures. I picked fights to vent aggression. It was a dark period in my life and one which still colors my parental relationships long after forgiveness came.
Now imagine trying to manage all of that on a public stage. Imagine that all of your classmates, teammates, coaches, teachers, and playmates know your father is a philandering poseur.
Elected officials opt into a certain amount of public scrutiny, an easy choice to make for oneself. However, they also make that choice for their children and in so doing ought to be committed to a higher standard or at least not getting caught in contradiction. I will not comment about the damage Gov. Sanford has done to his marriage or to his wife – they are both adults and thus I consider the matter private. Nor will I comment on the political/hypocritical elements as this has rarely been a political space*.
Governor, your meandering public apologies have been all over the news, but I hope you understand the damage you have done to your children. I hope you understand how long of a shadow you’ve cast over their lives. I hope you understand that your carelessness (in getting caught) has exposed your boys to trump leveling taunts from which there is no recovery. Governor, I hope you know that all of their conversations can be ended with the question “Do you know where your daddy is?”
Where you gonna be, Governor?
P.S. Keith Olberman, you know I am generally a fan; but would you please stop appearing to enjoy this so much.
* Yes, I understand that there was a certain level of commentary inherent in the phrasing.