Posted by: Patrice Fitzgerald | June 26, 2009

Mark Sanford, Maria Belen Chapur, and the photos

Governor Sanford’s saga has gone from the absurd to the pitiful and back again.  We were first told that he was off on the Appalachian Trail hiking, maybe, even though his family had not heard from him for four days (including Father’s Day).  His staff kept up his Twitter account, dutifully tweeting every day, though they didn’t really know where he was either.  Then his car (government issue) was found at the airport.  And finally we learn that he was off in Buenos Aires, crying in the arms of the beautiful Argentinean now identified as Maria Belen Chapur.  

I’ve read some of the emails between them (which were reportedly in the hands of The State newspaper in South Carolina since last December).  He’s not my brand of politician, and I find the hypocrisy of someone who decried Bill Clinton’s actions and then found himself unable to resist his own affair to be appalling.  But the emails just look to me like someone in the throes of foolish, irresponsible, middle-aged love — love that he and his Maria may have felt deeply, and which has and will continue to inflict great pain on Sanford’s wife and four sons.

Sanford and Maria’s missives brought to mind the ridiculous messages recorded between Prince Charles and his then-mistress, Camilla Parker Bowles.  The pinnacle was reached in this exchange:

Charles to Camilla, in an intercepted telephone call: “I want to feel my way along you, all over you and up and down you and in and out. Oh God, I’ll just live inside your trousers or something — it would be much easier.”

Camilla: “What are you going to turn into, a pair of knickers? Oh, you’re going to come back as a pair of knickers.”

Charles: “Or, God forbid, a Tampax. Just my luck!”

Camilla: “You are a complete idiot! Oh, what a wonderful idea.”

Alas, we have all been foolish, but we are not all so publicly foolish.

Lee Siegel wrote about the gleeful exposure of the Sanford/Maria emails by all manner of media.  What about Sanford’s privacy, he asked?  Well, Governor Sanford is a public official (as of this writing — who knows what the next hour will bring).  Maria Belen Chapur is a private person.  She will be forever dogged by this story.

Naturally, the next step was the race to uncover the photos of Maria.  Is this just natural curiosity?  Following the trail to the end of the mystery?  Craning our necks to see the sad result as we pass an accident on the highway?

A long trail of those women who brought men down, perhaps unwittingly, would begin with Helen of Troy with stops along the way for Judith Exner, Fanne Foxe (also from Argentina — what is it about Argentina?), and Monica Lewinsky.  

But I confess.  I looked for the photos too.  And here is Maria Belen Chapur, unveiled.

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