by Chris Haire
When I first read former South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford's op-ed supporting GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain in The State newspaper, my spidey sense went off.
It was more than just a tingle, a funny little feeling that something wasn't right. It was a full-blown, full-body tremor, the kind that rattles teeth and shatters hips. It was either that or I was suffering from the DTs. Again.
See, I had originally read Sanford's op-ed when it ran in the Post and Courier last Fri. Oct. 28. I thought the piece was interesting, most notable because Jenny claimed that she was a person who was disconnected from the political system, something that I would never say about her. After all, she is a woman who ran her former husband's two successful gubernatorial campaigns. It would be like me telling you right now that I wasn't sipping a bourbon as I write this.
But today, Nov. 3, I was no longer troubled by Sanford's attempt to wield a faux-populist touch. Nope.
I was troubled because the op-ed in The State appeared to be the exact same op-ed that ran in the P&C days earlier, well before Cain's alleged dalliances became public knowledge and late night fodder.
My first thought was that The State had made a tragic error, one that would make Jenny look like a buffoon. After all, Sanford's own husband had been involved in his own little sexual misadventure, one which not only embarrassed Jenny but split her family in two.
Surely, she wouldn't have written this piece about Cain once these allegations became public ... and especially as Cain's troubles compounded with each new tidbit of information and each new crisis-management misstep.
And if she did allow the same op-ed that had run the P&C to be run in The State days later unchanged, didn't she realize that it would create the appearance that she was defending Cain in the face of these allegations?
And so I called The State to get to the bottom of this. Cindi Scoppe, The State editor responsible for editing Jenny Sanford's piece, gladly took my call and answered my questions.
Scoppe told me that she had received the op-ed last week and had originally planned to run it yesterday, Wed. Oct. 2. However, following the release of the Cain allegations, Scoppe contacted Sanford to see if she wanted to make any changes.
As it turns out, Sanford did tweak the op-ed, but only barely.
Consider this line from the original P&C op-ed:
If the press would spend more time honestly airing thoughtful proposals that are put forth instead of highlighting the best debate quips, we might have a truly interesting race with serious choices.
Here's how it reads in today's issue of The State:
If the media would spend more time honestly airing detail on the thoughtful proposals that are put forth instead of highlighting the best debate quips or the newest allegations, perhaps we might have a truly interesting race with serious choices.
In the latest version, Sanford acknowledges the allegations. I would say that except for that one change, the op-ed is the exact same, but I fear that the bourbon is rapidly getting the better of me this evening and so I will assume that other changes were made even though I don't see them.
What makes all of this even more interesting is that this op-ed is now a news story itself. In fact, many are interpreting Sanford's column as a defense of Cain, most notably the Washington Post.
Washington Post reporter Nia-Malika Henderson sent an email to Sanford seeking clarification. This is what Henderson received from Jenny:
“I am not defending him and think I will watch how this all plays out as everyone else does. I hope to hear more discussion from the press about the issues we face and potential solutions.”
So the point here is that the op-ed may have been submitted a week ago, as the Greenville News has reported, but in the case of The State, Sanford was given the opportunity to rewrite or nix the column and she chose not to.
Make of that what you will.
As for me, Sanford may not be defending Cain, but one thing is for sure: The former S.C. first lady may be disconnected from more than the political system. She may be disconnected from political reality.