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Divorce and the Changing Fortunes of Mark and Jenny Sanford

4 years ago
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In the saga of the Sanfords of South Carolina, Jenny is definitely doing a lot better than Mark these days, even with her announcement Friday that she has filed for divorce.

Let's see. She made Barbara Walters' list of "10 Most Fascinating People of 2009." Granted, she shared that honor with Kate Gosselin, Adam Lambert and Lady Gaga, an odd juxtaposition for the state's first lady and mother of four sons. But you can't beat network TV for getting your message out. She told America that no, her husband did not ask her to stand by his side during an excruciatingly transparent confession of his June sojourn in South America with his "soul mate."

"If he had asked me, I would have said no," she said. So there.

She also has a book deal for a memoir, to be published next spring, when another interview with Walters is scheduled to air. All this is in addition to a Vogue magazine appearance and the application to trademark her name. (You can learn more at jennysanford.com.)

Though she has said she has no interest in running for office, she's endorsed Republican state Rep. Nikki Haley in the race to replace her husband in 2010.

In her official capacity as first lady of South Carolina, Jenny Sanford returned to the governor's mansion (which she and her children had moved out of) for the holiday open house. There, The State newspaper reported, she and her husband -- who arrived late -- stood a few feet apart, greeting separate groups of well-wishers who came to gawk at more than the Christmas wreaths and colored lights, I'd wager. How awkward!

As for the governor of South Carolina, the best news Mark Sanford has had recently is that he's not going to be impeached. A seven-member state House subcommittee voted 6-1 against impeachment Wednesday, deciding instead to censure Sanford for bringing "ridicule, dishonor, disgrace and shame" on his office, the state and its citizens.

Sanford will continue to be governor for the next year, until his term-limited time in the office comes to an end. He hopes, I'm sure, that there will be more good news -- such as last month's groundbreaking on a Boeing production line -- than embarrassing personal developments.

He has plenty of time to speculate in the big governor's residence. Sanford tried to get back to state business on Thursday, tried to drum up opposition to the federal health-care reform bill. But he still talked about his wife and his marriage, saying he hopes to reconcile. This time she was one step ahead of him. Even before she announced starting divorce proceedings, it seemed that Jenny was the one who had moved on. Who can blame her?

So why am I starting to feel a bit sorry for him, while every new Jenny sighting grates on my nerves? I was with her all the way in the beginning, of course. And I admired her tough stance in the face of public humiliation. And yet...

In all the down-and-dirty dishing about, say, Tiger Woods' woes and who did and didn't get paid off after Nevada Sen. John Ensign's affair with a staffer, Sanford's heartfelt declarations of love to his Argentine inamorata seem quaint, his rambling series of post-coital press conference apologies clunky yet endearingly unguarded.

He seems out there, almost making it up as he goes along, while you can imagine an army of publicists behind Jenny, who can't hold on to the image of wronged wife muddling through much longer. She managed her husband's campaigns and she's managing the aftermath of the Argentine affair with almost as much finesse.

She says she wants to concentrate on being a good mother, before turning up, brave face forward, on Barbara Walters.

Some women are saying, "You go, girl." I find myself changing the channel.
Filed Under: Scandal, Woman Up, Governors

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