S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford's Affair of the Heart

By Neely Tucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Oh, we've seen sex scandals in the nation politic, lots of them.

In the men's bathroom at the Minneapolis airport, in a room off the Oval Office, on the steps of the Capitol building, in Room 871 of the Mayflower Hotel with Client 9, or Detroit's Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick cackling to his chief of staff in a text message that their hookups wouldn't be known: "LOL LOL! Damn that. Never busted. Busted is what you see! LOL."

These were awful and squeamish and sticky and made you want to go take a shower.

The drama of The Governor and Maria, now playing everywhere from South Carolina to Argentina, appears to be something else entirely. Sex doesn't appear to be the problem here.

Love does.

The planet is now aware, courtesy of an anonymous type who sent private e-mails between South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (49, married, father of four) and his lover in Argentina (identified last week as 43-year-old Maria Belen Chapur, current marital status uncertain), to the State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., which printed them Thursday.

Their electronic epistles are startling and something rarely seen anymore: adult love letters. They are possessed of maturity, passion, angst and the recognition that they are devolving into an adulterous relationship that both acknowledge is wrong and yet seem helpless to stop.

They make you stop what you're doing and wonder if you are as alive as the people writing these across continents to each other. They make you vaguely embarrassed to have read them; as if, after the funeral, you discovered love letters from your beloved aunt Polly to the church deacon, and you read them all before you could stop.

She to he, last June (writing in English, not her native tongue):

"I do love you, I can feel it in my heart, and although I don't know if we'll ever be able to meet again this has been the best that has happened to me in a long time. You made me realized how you feel when you realy love somebody and how much you want to be beside the beloved. Last Friday I would had stayed embrassing and kissing you forever."

He to she, the next week, in a note that tried to resolve the adulterous state of the affair:

"I also suspect I feel a little vulnerable because this is ground I have never certainly never covered before -- so if you have pearls of wisdom on how we figure all this out please let me know. . . . In the meantime please sleep soundly knowing that despite the best efforts of my head my heart cries out for you, your voice, your body, the touch of your lips, the touch of your finger tips and an even deeper connection to your soul."

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