Back during the whole “Hiking the Appalachian Trail” fiasco, I wrote a lot about my state’s governor, Mark Sanford. I’ve written about his marriage, I’ve written about his infidelity, I’ve written about his ties to C-Street’s “The Family.” I’ve created an entire tag, Annals of South Carolinian Ridiculousness, largely thanks to his antics, though Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham have certainly contributed to that category.
And now, my fair governor is in the news once again. His wife having filed for divorce and written a tell-all book after their efforts to save their marriage failed, he is trying to reunite with the Argentinian woman he calls his “soulmate.” And the thing is, I’m fine with that. I can’t say why exactly, but somehow, I’m less bothered by a man who simply fell in love with the wrong woman at the wrong time, than I am with an Elliot Spitzer screwing prostitutes behind his wife’s back after making a career going after prostitution rings, or John Edwards cheating on his dying wife with a bimbo, and then failing to wrap it up, all the while thinking that he could still run for president and no one would know about his love child. Somehow, I’m sympathetic to love, even if it’s narrated by poorly-written email poetry about tan lines.
What I’m less sympathetic to are Sanford’s policies, particularly his veto this week of a proposed tobacco tax increase in a state with the lowest tobacco taxes in the nation. As someone concerned about childrens’ health in particular (and the wife of a pediatrician), I know that higher tobacco taxes are a proven way of keeping tobacco out of kids’ hands and a great way to fund tobacco use prevention programs. According to the SC Tobacco Collaborative, “Studies show that every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces youth smoking by about 7 percent and overall cigarette consumption by about 4 percent.” Keeping kids from smoking is a key way to prevent adults from smoking and make our nation a healthier place, keeping health care costs down for all of us. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most smokers have their first cigarette between the ages of 11 and 14! Thankfully the House overrode his veto, and there is hope the Senate will do the same.
It’s just a shame that yet again, the governor’s love life is detracting attention from his more serious missteps, like the ones that put SC children at risk.