Sanford for President

The South Carolina governor isn’t an irresponsible lunatic for wandering off the reservation—he just made himself a better bet for president in 2012.

Alex Wong / Getty Images

Mark Sanford unplugged. Literally. He decided to take a hike. And he told his security detail to take a hike as well.

Guy wanted some alone time in the woods to clear his head.

Here we have a guy in politics who actually likes to get OUT of the spotlight. How exceedingly normal.

But oh, no. Not normal at all. A man in his position has to be “troubled” or “hiding something” for taking a walk.

Judging from the thunderous sound of the reaction and squealing coverage you would think that Sanford went for a walk in Anbar Province, Iraq, and left the nuclear football in a mall somewhere in Pakistan.

Declare a state of emergency. Lock your doors. Hide your children. Find Al Haig and put him charge. Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer has let it be known that he cannot take this situation “lightly.”

Bauer called Sanford’s office and demanded an “immediate phone conversation with the governor,” and was shocked, shocked, to discover his chief of staff didn’t know where he was.

Well, apparently, Sanford has been out hiking the Appalachian Trail: A great place, according to the author and novice hiker Bill Bryson, for a walk in the woods. This is the sign of a healthy, sane individual. So, of course, when someone in politics does something normal, political partisans and the media elite think he’s crazy.

Mark Sanford literally likes to go his own way. Why do politicians have to be on a leash? Really, is South Carolina such a highly prized strategic asset that everyone has to freak out if the governor takes a hike for a few days? What’s the worst that could happen? The South Carolina libraries flood?

Of course there are “mysteries” to be solved, report the hyperventilating press. His cellphone was last picked up in Atlanta. I think the mystery will be solved when Sanford admits that he committed the crime of turning off his cellphone because he didn’t want to be bothered.

And it appears he has a very healthy marriage, because his wife said, “He was writing something and wanted some space to get away from the kids.” Sounds like Dad got his Father’s Day wish. And he told his staff that he’d be difficult to reach for a few days and that he regularly goes off the tether without his security detail.

For this act alone, we’re going to move Sanford up at least a notch on our Top 10 GOP contenders for 2012.

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Everyone’s gone hysterical over this “incident” and calling him crazy. We say, yeah, crazy like a fox.

Or, we could be completely wrong. Maybe the panic was in order. Perhaps we’ll discover he was having a Mazola party with a band of midget gypsies in a cave somewhere on the Appalachian Trail. And after tying up the governor, they extracted all the secrets of the South Carolina National Guard.

Revised Top 10 List: The Next Republican President

1. Mitt Romney 2. Tim Pawlenty 3. John Thune 4. Mark Sanford (up a notch after his “disappearing” act) 5. Mike Huckabee 6. Bobby Jindal 7. Sarah Palin 8. Newt Gingrich 9. Haley Barbour (enters the list after “meetings” with consultants in D.C. this week) 10. Mitch Daniels (enters despite saying “no way”—too many drafters saying “yes”)

Longshot: Hunstman returns from China

Read McKinnon’s Original Picks For 2012.

As vice chairman of Public Strategies and president of Maverick Media, Mark McKinnon has helped meet strategic challenges for candidates, causes, and individuals, including George W. Bush, John McCain, Governor Ann Richards, Charlie Wilson, Lance Armstrong, and Bono. McKinnon is co-chair of Arts & Labs, a collaboration between technology and creative communities that have embraced today’s rich Internet environment to deliver innovative and creative digital products to consumers.