Mark Sanford in 2009 (Joshua Drake/Reuters)

Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) provided a lengthy update to his constituents on Friday, detailing not his current policy positions or his thoughts on American airstrikes in Syria. No, the topic Sanford discussed for more than  2,300 words was, instead, love.

Sanford rose to national attention in 2009 when he first went AWOL from South Carolina, where we was governor, and then tearfully admitted that he'd been having an affair. Friday's Facebook update is another chapter in that drama, with Sanford exploring his ex-wife Jenny's legal machinations surrounding the custody of their children. It's difficult to read, frankly, an exploration of the sorts of personal details that we rarely seek from our friends, much less our elected officials.

But it's drawn into particularly stark relief when you contrast Sanford's Facebook output with his congressional work product. He arrived in the House in May of last year, and, within days had spoken on a variety of topics -- including offering praise to the winner of "American Idol," South Carolina's own Candice Glover. ("I think that her story ultimately is inspirational," Sanford said from the floor of Congress, "because what she does is she teaches and reminds every one of us on the importance of this simple notion of trying, trying, and trying yet again. Because it was, in fact, on her third attempt that she actually made it, and it made all the difference.")

In total, Sanford has said just about 8,000 words from the floor of the House -- meaning that his output on Facebook was about 29 percent as long as everything he considered important enough to share with his colleagues. And of those 8,000 words, a full quarter were to four separate tributes, like that to Ms. Glover and one offered to Coach Ed Steers, who retired as athletics director of Porter-Gaud School.


During 2014, Sanford spoke 1,956 words from the floor of Congress. On Facebook on Friday, he explored his relationship with his ex-wife at slightly greater length.