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For nearly a week South Carolina was without a governor.
Governor Mark Sanford disappeared on June 18. He had turned off his cell phone and was not in communication with either his political allies or his family. By June 22, the state legislature was about to declare a state of emergency in order to transfer the governor’s powers to another state official. The only thing that stopped them was that Sanford’s aides stated that they knew where he was.
Sanford finally surfaced on June 23. The following day everybody learned where he was. He had a hot date with an Argentine woman — in Argentina.
An international relationship can be very distracting. It’s going to be especially distracting for a man who, at least for the present, happens to be already married — to a woman other than the one whom he traveled out of the country to meet.
Along with being a very naughty boy, Mark Sanford acted in an utterly irresponsible manner. The chief executive of a state just took off with nobody minding the store while he was gone. What if there had been an emergency that required the governor’s personal and immediate attention? His aides said that they knew where to reach him, if necessary, but there would obviously have been a substantial delay while he returned to South Carolina from another hemisphere.
I think it’s safe to say that his aspirations of being nominated to run for president in 2012 are dead. A middle-aged man who acts in such an irresponsible way should not be allowed anywhere near the Oval Office. Imagine what would happen if the telephone rings at 3 a.m. and the president is on the other side of the earth, incommunicado, cavorting with some honey?
Sanford, unfortunately, isn’t the only state governor to be a bit distracted. Our governor took a second, part time job back in January. While still serving as the governor of America’s 12th largest state (South Carolina ranks 26th) during a time of budgetary crisis, Governor Tim Kaine has been moonlighting as chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Perhaps Gov. Kaine is having trouble making ends meet in spite of getting a free place to stay and living within walking distance of work. Maybe the family isn’t doing well and Gov. Kaine felt he needed a second job.
When Barack Obama offered Kaine the position of DNC chairman, Kaine should have done one of two things. He should have either declined the offer, or resigned as governor.
Virginia does not allow a sitting governor to have two consecutive terms, a wise decision. Tim Kaine will be out of the governor’s mansion in January. The problem, however, is that he’s still there and Virginia needs a full-time governor, not one who’s attention is divided between his duties as the Commonwealth’s highest elected official and the highly partisan duties of the chairman of a national political party.
While Tim Kaine won’t be governor when the next General Assembly session convenes in January, he will still have to prepare the budget that will form the basis for the legislators’ discussions. It would be nice if his mind would be fully focused on that task as it’s not going to be an easy one. The economic future is uncertain. While it’s possible the recession will bottom out before the end of the year, most economists are predicting a slow recovery. It’s also possible that rising fuel prices could spike that recovery.
The Commonwealth can’t count on Obama Claus coming through again like he did this year. Federal stimulus money plugged a hole in the state budget, but a sequel is unlikely.
Unfortunately, although our governor won’t be entangled in an international affair, he’s going to have matters other than is duties as governor competing for his attention.