Commentary: Sanford's absence doesn't matter, S.C. suffers either way

So now everybody is upset about Gov. Mark Sanford's decision to cancel meetings to take off with the first lady at mid-week, and newly released e-mails that show he missed out on dinners with a company celebrating an expansion announcement and another being courted for expansion during his June rendezvous with his mistress.

There is much to criticize about Mr. Sanford's personal behavior — and much more to criticize about the way he has done his job as governor — but to act as though it makes a great deal of difference whether he's at his desk or not truly stretches credulity.

The fact is that neither Mr. Sanford's Argentine vacation nor his puppy-dog love nor his effort to reconcile with his wife has made any difference in his engagement in job-recruitment efforts, which always has been lacking.

And it most certainly does not matter if he isn't around to get a briefing on the latest state revenue numbers or jobless claims, because our system of government does not allow the governor to do anything about either problem — or much else, for that matter.

In most states, it would matter a great deal if the governor suddenly cleared his calendar and took off. South Carolina is not one of those states. Although governors today have far more power than they used to, and although it is indeed irresponsible for them to make themselves unreachable for extended periods, this is still a legislative state, with a government that operates pretty much on auto-pilot.

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