Mark Sanford is Back! Let’s Re-Read His Amazing Love Letters

Wrong Sanford, You Big Dummy
Wrong Sanford, You Big Dummy

Big news, guys.

Mark Sanford, the former governor of South Carolina, will run for the House of Representatives, sources close to Sanford confirm. He will try to win election to the seat formerly held by Tim Scott.

What’s this? The greatest American love letter writer is coming back into public life? For those who don’t recall, Mark Sanford was the South Carolina governor who in 2009 was seen as a possible contender for the Republican nomination in 2012. So, what happened? He went to hike the Appalachian Trail. Here’s how conservative commentator and former adviser to George W. Bush Mark McKinnon synopsized that hiking trip in an article that just gets better and better as the years go by:

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?

Well, as it turns out, the people who seemed to think it was weird that a governor would go out of his way to be completely untraceable for a few days were completely justified in their suspicions as “hiking the Appalachian Trail” quickly became a euphemism for having an affair.

Yeah, that's the guy
Yeah, that’s the guy

It’s worth remembering that the Mark Sanford Affair is truly unparalleled in the history of American politics. Obviously, there have been lots of affairs in the history of American politics. True! But those affairs were about sex. This one, this one was about love. This was not meeting some prostitutes in Connecticut and insisting that you continue to wear socks. No. Mark Sanford was the greatest love letter writer in American political history. Without further ado, here is the email documentation of the greatest love story in American political history between Mark Sanford and Argentinean reporter Maria Belén Chapur.  Because it makes me feel important, my comments will be in bold.

From: Mark Sanford

To: Maria

Date: Fri, 4 Jul 2008 [USA! USA! USA!]


You are glorious and I hope you really understand that. You do not need a therapist to help you figure your place in the world. You are special and unique and fabulous in a whole host of ways that are worth a much longer conversation. To be continued …

Have been having a few email problems as I am getting email through an aircard at the farm, where access to computer world is more than tough. Please let me know if you have gotten my last two eamils (sic) so I know it is working in getting to your part of the world …

Another glorious day outside. Hope you are doing well, and am anxious to hear about your week. Know that I miss you. Unbeleivably (sic) hard to imagine it has been a week. Please also send your mailing address as I want to send you an insignificant something next week when I am back in civilization that I think you might find interesting given our conversation.

Want to write an indepth note with some thoughts on our visit when I know you are getting these emails. Hugs and much love. M

Now’s the time to consider when the last time you insisted your mistress understand that she is glorious, too glorious, in fact, for therapy. But again, our man Mark is laying it on thick. Still, I would critique the sentence “You are special and unique and fabulous in a whole host of ways that are worth a much longer conversation,” for neglecting to say how she is special and unique and fabulous in a whole host of ways that are worth a much longer conversation. Show don’t tell, Mark.

From: Maria

Sent: Friday, July 04, 2008

To: Mark Sanford

My beloved, (hope you also change the dearest …) [don’t be pushy! He might get defensive!]

I’am (sic) reading your last two mails sitting outside with a great seaview here in Ilhabela, a beautiful island near Sao Paulo. Have been thinking of you while watching the beautiful blue sea (a) great part of my day and remembering with a great smile on my face, the time we had spent together.

I’m sorry, but is there anything more haunting/wistful/regretful than an Argentinean woman looking off into the distance from a South American island, thinking of loves that may never be?

As I told you before, you brought happiness and love to my life and (I) will take you forever in my heart. I wasn’t aware till we met last week, the strong feelings I had for you, and believe me, I haven’t felt this since I was in my teen ages, when afterwards I got married. 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 (sic) how you feel when you realy (sic) love somebody and how much you want to be beside the beloved. Last Friday I would had stayed embrassing (sic) and kissing you forever.

Uh, again, these two are not exactly taking it slow here.

Don’t know why you think you bore me with the description of your farm. I am an urban girl but that doesn’t inhibit me from loving other things, specially if they are the ones you love. [GOOD SEGUE FROM BORING FARM BORINGNESS INTO MORE SEXYTALK] I was able to imagine the place with every single detail you wrote and had trassmitted (sic) me the love you have for your farm. It sounds to be a great and peaceful place and loved you had shared it with me.

Thanks for your beautiful words, I don’t know if I do need or not therapy but I have to find my new place in this new stage of my life. Life has been very generous with me and I want to return at least a little bit of what I have been given. I have time and think helping others who haven’t been as lucky as me will do me fine.

My address is (deleted by The State) [THE STATE IS THE TERRIFYING NAME OF SOUTH CAROLINA’S NEWSPAPER, FYI]. It will be great finding at home once I am back, whatever you send me, I’ll keep it near my bed so as to feel you nearer.

Miss you so much… love you from the deepest of my heart. Sweet kisses.

OK, I guess the same Argentinean woman sadly clutching her lone keepsake from her lost love might be more haunting/wistful/regretful. Well done.

From: Mark Sanford

To: Maria

Date: Tue, 8 Jul 2008

Beloved back to you… [D’awww.]

Got back an hour ago to civilization and am now in Columbia after what was for me a glorious break from reality down at the farm [DUDE, YOU’RE GONNA BLOW IT WITH ALL THIS FARM TALK]. No phones ringing and tangible evidence of a day’s labors. Though I have started every day by 6 this morning woke at 4:30, I guess since my body knew it was the last day, and I went out and ran the excavator with lights until the sun came up. To me, and I suspect no one else on earth, there is something wonderful about listening to country music playing in the cab, air conditioner running, the hum of a huge diesel engine in the background, the tranquility that comes with being in a virtual wilderness of trees and marsh, the day breaking and vibrant pink coming alive in the morning clouds — and getting to build something with each scoop of dirt. [A-fucking-plus on this imagery. I’m falling in love] It is admittedly weird but one of my more favorite ways of escaping the norms, constant phone calls and formalities that go with the office — and it probably fits with my weakness in doing rather than being — though you opened up a new chapter last week wherein I was happy and content just being. Last point worth further discussion. Afternoon projects had me outside and by days (sic) end I pretty much looked like a homeless person … but in this case a very content one. [LOL] Enough about my love of heavy equipment and woods at sunrise …

While I was getting exhausted with one project after another at Coosaw work week, you were basking (I’m certain gloriously) on the beach..

Sounds great, hope to hear more about what sounds a great spot.

Will now finally get some sleep and write you a longer note with a few more profound thoughts tomorrow or Wednesday. In the meantime I send my love and hope you know I am thinking of you.. M

P.S. I do not want to raise expectations, when I say I will send something insignificant I promise I will do as I say! It wont (sic) be worthy of bedside placement … was just going to find the movie the Holiday as we had spoken of it last Thursday. Its music was pleasant and made me think of you — its mood and the notion of a holiday (wrapped up in our case over two days) certainly fit as well … (though our visit in some ways for me was as well less of a holiday than it was uncovering and realization of some things and feelings that again are worth longer conversation)

Did he just write a beautiful paragraph about the Cameron Diaz/Jude Law/Kate Winslet/Jack Black rom-com The Holiday which, according to Wikipedia is “The story is about two women who trade homes ‘only to find that a change of address can change their lives?'” Yes, yes he did.

Had also hoped to find the cd of a song that played as I was flying home and also20made (sic) me think of you. Who knows if I can find the music … so all you may be stuck with is a long released movie — and if you put it by your bed I really be worried! Love you, good night and kisses back to you …

936full-the-holiday-poster Sanford is straight killin’ it with his humble southern boy routine. It’s unspeakably charming. Let’s see if Maria agrees…

From: Maria

Sent: Wednesday, July 09, 2008 8:14 PM

To: Mark Sanford

My love,I decided to rent a car and went by myself to the other side of the Island where it is located one of the best hotels. It’s name is DPNY Hotel and I find it quite interesting. I had lunch there in a restaurant on the beach with great seaview. I sat under a palm and ate a mixed green salad with grilled abacaxi (pineapple) and honey. in the afternoon I sunbathe and read on the beach. I ve started here “The age of turbulence” from Alan Greenspan which I highly recomend (sic) you [SO MANY LOLS AT THIS!]. At five I left back to the small town had a coffee with pao de queijo (cheese bread which is something tipycal (sic) from Brazl (sic) and it’s delicious) read some magazines, walked around and finally back to meu Pousada that is hotel.

I gotta say, Maria leaves a little bit to be desired as a writer. Food stories are inherently uninteresting. That said, all this mention of “the island” makes me think she is the one who should be sending him boring mid-2000s movies.

In the Island is taking place the sailing week and Rolex competition [I really hope this is an actual competition between Rolexes] and this was the reason for choosing the place and also why luckily I am most of the time by my own. It may sound bad but it’s how I feel it. As I told you I shouldn’t have done this trip but I would have felt worst if I wouldn’t have come because it was too over the date, he is a very nice guy, great heart … but unfortunately I am not in love with him [Wait, what? She’s on a date? Huh? What? What?] … You are my love … something hard to believe even for myself as it’s also a kind of impossible love, not only because of distance but situation.

Sometimes you don’t choose things, they just happen … I can’t redirect my feelings and I am very happy with mine towards you. Hope you have had a good day, guess with much work. );

Send you all my love and goodnight kisses. Sweet dreams from down south. I’ll dream with you.

A lot of unanswered questions here: who’s her date? Has “The Age of Turbulence” been translated into Spanish? Who will win the Rolex competition?

From: Mark Sanford

To: Maria

Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2008


It was indeed a long day. I am most jealous of your salad under the palm tree. [I’m pretty sure a willingness to listen to and seem interested in boring food stories implies that Mark Sanford is the perfect romantic partner. On the other side of the ledger: prone to cheating.]

Three thoughts in one note now that I have a moment. One the travel schedule is about to get real busy (and this distresses me for the way it may well make it more difficult to get your notes over the next few weeks), two unfortunately all the feelings you describe are mutual, and three where do we go from here? [starcross’d! Now, you might be thinking that he’s just doing the “oh shoot, this would’ve worked if it could’ve thing. Too bad” But you’re a cynic and a jerk and wrong.]

One, tomorrow leave at 5 am for New York and meetings. Will think about you on its streets and wish I was going to be there later in the month when you are there. Tomorrow night back to Philadelphia for the start of the National Governor’s Conference through the weekend. Back to Columbia for Tuesday and then on Wednesday, as I think I had told you, taking the family to China, Tibet, Nepal, India, Thailand and then back through Hong Kong on world wind tour [LOL WORLD WIND TOUR]. Few days home then to Bahamas for 5 days on a friends boat for the last break of the summer. The following weekend have been asked to spend it out in Aspen, Colorado with McCain — which has kicked up the whole VP talk all over again in the press back home. [!!!! You’d think he’d be little more discreet with his email. And yet, here we are.]

Two, mutual feelings. I have been specializing in staying focused on decisions and actions of the head for a long time now — and you have my heart *swoons*. You have oh so many attributes that pulls it in this direction. Do you really comprehend how beautiful your smile is? Have you been told lately how warm your eyes are and how they softly glow with the special nature of your soul [If so, that is a remarkable coincidence that someone chose that precise permutation of compliments. But seriously, *double swoon*]. I remember Jenny [Rule #1 of Affair Club: Don’t mention your wife], or someone close to me, once commenting that while my mom was pleasant and warm it was sad she had never accomplished anything of significance. I replied that they were wrong because she had the ultimate of all gifts — and that was the ability to love unconditionally. The rarest of all commodities in this world is love. It is that thing that we all yearn for at some level — to be simply loved unconditionally for nothing more than who we are — not what we can get, give or become. There are but 50 governors in my country and outside of the top spot, this is as high as you can go in the area I have invested the last 15 years of my life — my getting here came as no small measure because I had that foundation of love and support so critical to getting up in the morning and feeling you could give and risk because you already had a full tank of love in the emotional bank account [Who is he talking about here? Wife? Kids? Parents? Siblings? Elaborate, plz!]. Since our first meeting there in a wind swept somewhat open air dance spot in Punta del Este [romantic dancing in South America…check!], I felt that you had that same rare attribute. Above all else I love that inner beauty about you. That gift of yours is going to make a tremendous difference in (The State deleted sons’ names) life — and in anyone’s life who is blest to be touched by yours — you need to rest very comfortably in that fact. [I feel so much more at ease already] As I mentioned in our last visit, while I did not need love fifteen years ago — as the battle scars of life and aging and politics have worn on this has become a real need of mine [He probably wasn’t talking about his wife up above there, then. Loveless marriages seem weird. Just get divorced or something. Problem solved, you’re welcome.]. You have a particular grace and calm that I adore. You have a level of sophistication that is so fitting with your beauty. I could digress and say that you have the ability to give magnificently gentle kisses, or that I love your tan lines or that I love the curves of your hips, the erotic beauty of you holding yourself (or two magnificent parts of yourself) in the faded glow of night’s light — but hey, that would be going into the sexual details we spoke of at the steakhouse at dinner — and unlike you I would never do that! [Oh my! Again, this was published in a newspaper while this guy was the governor of a state and now this guy is running for congress again.]

Three and finally, while all the things above are all too true — at the same time we are in a hopelessly — or as you put it impossible — or how about combine and simply say hopelessly impossible situation of love [He had barely than 24 hours to come up with her previous letter, and he wrote this majestic thing, while also being the highest government official in the state of South Carolina. Your achievements know no end, Mark Sanford] . How in the world this lightening [sic] strike snuck up on us I am still not quite sure. As I have said to you before I certainly had a special feeling about you from the first time we met, but these feelings were contained and I genuinely enjoyed our special friendship and the comparing of all too many personal notes (and yes this is true even if you did occasionally tantalize me with sexual details over the years!) [rawr] — but it was all safe. Where we are is not [sexy, sexy danger is all around us]. I have thought about it and in some ways feel I let you down in letting these complications come into a friendship that I hope will last till death. In all my life I have lived by a code of honor and at a variety of levels know I have crossed lines I would have never imagined. I wish I could wish it away, but this soul-mate feel I alluded too is real and in that regard I sure don’t want to be the person complicating your life. I looked to where I often look for advice and counsel, and in I Corinthians 13 it simply says that, “ Love is patient and kind, love is not jealous or boastful, it is not arrogant or rude, Love does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice in the wrong, but rejoices in the right, Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things”. In this regard it is action that goes well beyond the emotion of today or tomorrow and in this light I want to look for ways to show love in helping you to live a better — not more complicated life. I want to help (one of Maria’s sons) with film guys that might help his career, etc [Mark Sanford knows people, k?]. I also don’t want you walking20away (sic) from some guy (I take it the younger guy you mentioned a t dinner) because of me [SCREW THAT GUY. HE’S A CHUMP]— and what we both have to see as an impossible situation. I better stop now least this really sound like the Thornbirds — wherein I was always upset with Richard Chamberlain for not dropping his ambitions and running into Maggie’s arms [A few thoughts on this: First, Mark Sanford is an avid consumer of chick flicks/chick TV. Either he is a double agent who has meticulously spent his life learning the secrets to wooing women or he just is that romantic. Either way, I’d love to hear his thoughts on Must Love Dogs. Second, New York Jets tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson is named after Thorn Birds character Ralph de Bricassart]. The bottom line is two fold, my heart wants me to get on a plane tonight and to be in your loving arms — my head is saying how do we put the Genie back in the bottle because I sure don’t want to be encumbering you, or your options or your life. Put differently, given I love you, I don’t want to be part of the reason you are having less than an ideal week in what sounds like a cool spot.

Lastly 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. I love you … sleep tight [At this exact moment, all of America fell in love with Mark Sanford]. M

PS. I will make it a point in NY tomorrow to drop by a store and get that movie I promised to send your way … I am encouraged to know you will not keep it beside the bed least we have tangible evidence of two pathetic figures missing each other far too much to live a few thousand miles apart!


From: Maria

To: Mark Sanford

Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2008

You have not brought complication or are not bringing complication to my life, on the contrary you’ve fullfiled (sic) me with happiness and made me aware how you can feel when you love somebody. I can think with my head but only feel with my heart so I can’t avoid it even knowing is hopelessly impossible [GAME, SANFORD]. The guy is the one I told you ,just three years younger than me, but I am not in love and won’t fall in love with time so I have to continue my way … be alone for some time and if I am lucky enough will someday feel towards somebody, what I today feel for you [Although if these emails become public, maybe we can work something else out…]. At least you made me realized it can happen.

I don’t know if I did understood (sic) well about what was unsafe or not safe. Before our mails use to have other contents … if you want to go back to that and don’t write love things and so on because is not safe for you it’s ok with me, i (sic) love you and by no way would do something that can harm you, so please let me know [Am I wrong, or do these two people deeply care for each other? For reals, you guys].

I don’t know how we figure all this out and I am not interested in knowing. I prefer to think we’ll see each other again somewhere sometime in this life and in next. Will be missing you till then… . .

Have a great trip with the ones you love … they are the kind of trips you will never forget and for your boys will be unworthable (sic) not only because of the places they will visit but for sharing all that time with you.

Send you millions of kisses that will last till we get in touch again. best wishes from the deepest of my heart.

P.S.: I don’t want to put the genius (sic) back in the bottle because I truly believe in freedom. I never gave you sexual details but now you don’t need to imagine you can close your eyes and just remember. I’ll do the same. [I think they had sex]

So, how did things end for our two ill-fated lovers once the affair went public? Awesomely, actually. Sanford got divorced, and got engaged to Chapur this past December.

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