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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Jenny Sanford: My Husband's Actions Don't Reflect Poorly on Me

(image via vogue)

I am not so much interested in the fact that South Carolina's nonsalaried First Lady was named one of Barbara Walters' '10 Most Fascinating People of 2009,' or even the details of the affair. What is most interesting is that she may become a politician. From last month's New York Times: "In South Carolina, some politicians and experts believe she may run for office ... 'Yes, if I had to bet, I think she will run,' said Robert Oldendick, director of the Institute for Public Service and Policy Research at the University of South Carolina. 'Just look at what she’s doing externally.'" That is more than interesting, it is also somewhat unprecedented. The independently wealthy Jenny Sanford is believed to be the only governor’s spouse, First Lady, in a separation. If First Lady Sanford does run again for office she will also have a politically powerful last name behind her (but without the baggage).

She talks to Walters about the affair, which, curiously, has catapulted her to a position of -- dare one say it? -- popularity among many women. From ABCNews:

Jenny Sanford, wife of embattled South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, told Barbara Walters in her first television interview about her husband's affair that she wouldn't have stood by his side when he publicly admitted the affair even if he had asked her to.

Sanford, who has moved out of the South Carolina governor's mansion with the couple's four children, openly discussed the heartbreak behind the headlines of their breakup.

"It's been a crazy year. ... Certainly his actions hurt me, and they caused consequences for me, but they don't in any way take away my own self-esteem. They reflect poorly on him," she said, in an exclusive interview with Barbara Walters to air on "The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2009."

Sanford was thrust into the national spotlight when her husband admitted in June that he had been secretly visiting his longtime lover in Argentina instead of hiking the Appalachian Trail, as he told his staff.

Sanford said she found out in January 2009 that her husband had been unfaithful, and she moved out of their house a few weeks before the scandal broke.

"I knew he had been having an affair. I didn't know he was in Argentina," she said.

After discovering his infidelity, Sanford said she told her husband not to visit his mistress and instead consider the consequences for his family.

"What people didn't know was that I had asked Mark to leave. … Without permission to see his woman in Argentina or to see her anywhere, and he was to have no contact with the boys or myself for 30 days. And my hope was that he would wake up from whatever he was in the throes of and maybe see what he might lose."

But he did not wake up.

Jenny Sanford did not stand-by-her-man, as did Silda Spitzer or even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton . It appears she may alsio reap political benefits from that departure from those protocols of conventional wisdom. Does that signal a sea change in how these family disruptions are handled by political wives on the political stage? “She’s creating her own identity,” Marjory Wentworth, the South Carolina state poet laureate and a longtime friend told The New York Times.

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