Commentary: Sanford saga is too much ado about nothing

Gov. Mark Sanford deserves every bit of the public shellacking he’s getting for leaving the country for several days without telling anyone.

But are calls for his impeachment or resignation warranted? After all, nothing happened.

A hurricane didn't strike South Carolina. There was no nuclear meltdown. No need for the National Guard to be scrambled.

As a matter of fact, so little happened that nearly all of us — from the media to those state leaders who were reachable to the rest of South Carolina and much of the nation — had countless hours and energy to spend commiserating over the question of where, oh where, had our long-lost governor gone. But for the governor’s ill-advised trip, many of us in these parts would have had precious little to worry about.

Mr. Sanford's actions were indeed irresponsible. You don't leave without telling anyone where you're going and how to get in touch with you or leaving someone in charge, even though, as an elected official, you're not required to have set hours, set vacation or a published schedule.

While he let this state down and broke a trust with citizens, it doesn't appear at the moment that Mr. Sanford broke any laws or rules, either in leaving the way he did recently or on a 2008 trip to Argentina during which he saw his mistress. (The governor should clear up the 2008 question by producing all records related to the trip.)

It's not clear exactly what Mr. Sanford was required to do when he left town. While there is a process of succession, it's vague, — something many in the Legislature now have known for years but have done nothing to fix.

Was the governor obligated to empower Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer? I don't know. Frankly, he could have covered himself by simply announcing he'd be away a few days and providing a contact number. Instead, he did nothing.

To read the complete column, visit www.thestate.com.

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