There’s another twist in the story of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford today. His wife, South Carolina First Lady Jenny Sanford said she is “willing to forgive Mark for his actions,” though she did put the onus on him publicly. “Mark has stated that his intent and determination is to save our marriage…I hope he can make good on those intentions,” she said in a statement.
I was covering the disappearance of the governor last week, before being pulled into the breaking news of Michael Jackson’s death. Though it feels like it’s been longer than that, it was just last Monday when Sanford’s spokesman Joel Sawyer said his boss was on the road, “to kind of clear his head after the legislative session." Then Wednesday morning was when I read the governor’s first account of his trip to Buenos Aires in The State, South Carolina’s largest newspaper. “I would get out of the bubble I'm in," Sanford said describing why he traveled to Argentina. But something about even the article’s headline just didn’t ring true: “Governor Says He Cruised Along the Coast of Buenos Aires.”
During one of my visits to Buenos Aires, I wanted to go to the beach but it never happened because the nearest “decent” one, I was told, was about 250 miles away. So it seemed unbelievable to me that the governor would want to travel for so many hours just to go cruising along a “decent” coastline. Of course if he had really wanted to go to a beach, he could have stayed in South Carolina as its official tourism website says, the state’s coast has “miles of crystal white sand” and it’s a great place to “relax at a romantic island resort”.
Buenos Aires is a great place to lose yourself and to leave behind the bubble of day to day life. I know lots of Americans who escape there for the milongas, where they dance tango, a hobby for some, a way of life for others. There’s a very cool, tango cabaret at the Faena Hotel in Puerto Madero, a part of the city where I certainly lost myself, specifically at the Faena’s poolbar but also amid the architecture of Santiago Calatrava, Norman Foster, and Phillippe Starck, who have all built along the city’s old boating docks there.
My last trip to Argentina was in October 2008 for the presidential elections, and the first female president of the country – Cristina Fernandez De Kirchner – was elected. In fact the top three most voted candidates were women. But besides losing myself in Argentine politics, a passion for many, I also wrote a profile about Nilda Cuartucci who captured so much attention when she demanded that the Argentine Supreme Court conduct DNA tests on the remains of Eva Peron because she said she was the icon’s secret daughter. As with Elvis, John Kennedy or now Michael Jackson, millions still can’t get enough of the romantic myth of Evita, even today more than 50 years after her death.
Another piece I filed was about a historical struggle against evil in Argentina as described in the book, The Real Odessa, by journalist Uki Goñi. More than 60 years after the end of World War II, Argentina’s role in turning away Jewish refugees but allowing former SS officers into the country, still stirs incredible emotion. Goñi identified an Argentine “wall of silence” that he said links dictator Juan Peron’s welcome of Nazis to his country, to the murderous 1976-83 military dictatorship that did away with thousands of opponents, and to the infamous corruption of the 1980s and 1990s. Through his book, Goñi told me, he hoped to challenge Argentines to never remain silent again when confronted by political and social injustice.
So yes, you can lose yourself, or retreat, or clear your head, or escape from the bubble of your own life in Buenos Aires. There are many distractions available. I wonder what Governor Sanford’s infidelity, his misleading statements and recent revelations about improprieties with women other than his wife say about him? Do you think that now he might really want to disappear in Argentina to clear his head and lose himself far, far away from the coastline and the capital of his South Carolina?
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