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Jenny Sanford: 'Staying True'

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South Carolina governor Mark Sanford liked to quote scripture about “goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” 

But out of sight he was ditching his family and deep in a steamy affair with an Argentine lover. Jenny Sanford watched it all unfold. 

And when the governor’s story of hiking on the Appalachian Trail all fell apart, the state’s First Lady was not standing at his side as the wronged and dutiful political wife. 

She was packing. She was strong, and gone.  

This Hour, On Point: South Carolina First Lady Jenny Sanford, on staying true to more than a wayward man.


Jenny Sanford, first lady of South Carolina. She’s the author of the new memoir, “Staying True.” Read an excerpt.

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  • John

    Mark Sanford should send her some Winston Flowers.

  • Rebecca

    Jenny, I want to offer condolences for the pain you and your children have experienced. I went through something similar, and I know that particular hell. I want you to know that there is every reason to believe you will find real love with a healthy, stable person who will treat you as you deserve to be treated, and your life will be better than it has ever been. That is what happened to me. Stay strong.

  • Sam E.

    Could you please ask, Jenny if she thinks that voters should consider aspects of personal responsibility and character when evaluating candidates?

    Sam E.

  • steve m

    Did he lie about other things to other people, but always revealed those lies to you?

    Congrats to you for living up to your own standards.

  • Molly

    You go girl! Best of luck raising your sons, they look like nice boys. Hopefully they’ll learn from you how women ought to be treated, and what love is all about: respect.

  • http://www.warblerpress.com Pete Hildebrandt

    As a SC state resident who has endured all the slings and arrows to my fortunes as a direct result of Sanford’s incompetence, I am truly anxious for this extremely hypocritical person to be ancient history. Sanford as senator was right on board with the impeachment of Clinton, saw absolutely nothing wrong with that. Nor, apparently, after reading his wife’s account, did he have a whit of problem with his infidelity – and his continuing to remain employed at state expense. I don’t see what he has done for this state except to provide more fodder to embarrass it citizens. Her book is a waste of paper and ink. I won’t even buy it when it hits the shelves of the Dollar Tree in a month or so. Both of these individuals need to do some long hard thinking about what it means to be a public servant. We all have problems. But I doubt most people are truly interested in them. Eleanor Roosevelt knew of her husband’s affairs and they were a source of tremendous pain. But look at all she did, how she rose above all that and accomplished much in spite of it. Why not travel to the corridor of shame schools your husband ignored and make your legacy correcting all the things he clearly had no time for, for obvious reasons?

  • Jim

    i respect republicans and democrats who live up to their values. but I CANNOT stand republicans who replete themselves with hypocrisy. stop crying and start doing the job you were elected to do. and lastly, stop being fake.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I saw a piece on Democracy Now! about I think it’s called The Family in Washington DC, that purports to be religious (I think they held the prayer breakfast the president just attended recently?), and basically they think might makes right, and the norm is the kind of behavior of Governor Sanford. If not the norm, it is not forbidden. There are many in that sort of political Force in DC, and apparently their morality extends outside Washington DC.
    Is that in the book?

  • Tom

    Wow! if this woman doesn’t stop this tour she is going to simply repair her husband’s image. For god’s sake; Homosexuality caused her marriage’s problems?; She misses having inmates to wash her dogs?; Her son’s are all self-absorbed males?

    Stand Tall Jenny, you have had such a tough life, what with all that Skil saw money, political connections and the rest….

  • Ellen Dibble

    I forgot, Democracy Now! pointed to Sanford as a member of the group, The Family or whatever it’s called. And it seemed like the root of connectedness was “The Family” not the actual home.

  • jeffe

    While I feel for this woman, I am sick and tired of people airing their dirt in public with tell all books.

  • Ellen Dibble

    jeffe, she’s saying that this “dirt” for a high-profile politician (or etc.) is very different than for someone less exposed. She says people like Governor Sanford quickly become “disconnected,” due to the vastness of their public selves, I think.

  • JP

    Jenny Sanford relates many anecdotes about how her husband was very frugal (cheap, in fact).

    I would ask if she ever really knew this man who was obviously a habitual hypocrite and liar.

    Flying himself and his lover back and forth to carry on a long distance love affair over years isn’t very cheap, and must have cost an immense amount of money.

    It sounds like this man was only “cheap” when it came to his family, but certainly not when it came to his own selfish pleasure.

  • karen

    This is the stuff that tabloids are made of! I can
    understand that Jenny Sanford was badly hurt but her philandering husband but how short-sighted!! Has she no idea what collateral damage this will cause her children!?
    Is it really worth it for the book sales and fees she is getting for her interviews. This is a sad story which just got much, much sadder.

  • Cynthia

    There is much to admire about the way Jenny Sanford has comported herself during a truly difficult time. Yet, on the Barbara Walters show she said she had written the book so her sons would understand her side of the story. This rings hollow as she would only need to talk with them or perhaps share a long letter — no need for a big book and a big media tour. And just as she faulted her ex-husband for not mentioning her or their sons during his famous press conference, I haven’t heard her say a word about needing to preserve a decent relationship with Mark in order to co-parent their 4 boys. Isn’t that really the most important thing, rather than her public image?

  • Ellen Dibble

    The posts are beginning to be tit for tat, a little like the abortion debate: Do I get to make decisions for you? To tell you judgmentally that I know better than you?

  • John

    Wasn’t this a warning sign?

    Sanford recalls how she made the “leap of faith” to marry husband Gov. Mark Sanford even though the groom refused to promise to be faithful, insisting that the clause be removed from their wedding vows.

  • jim thompson

    As a resident of Fort Mill, South Carolina and someone who has voted for Governor Sanford (that will NEVER happen again) I am saddended for Jenny and her sons. Mr. Sanford has obviously done you and continues to do you all a disservice.

    However, he continues to also do a great disservice to the folks of this state by not resigning.

    On day one he resigns as head of the Republican governors conference, yet he still clings to his office here. Now he quotes Scripture and says he’s doing God’s calling. Dang…there sure is nothing as vulgar or more nauseating as the pretense of piety.

    I wonder if Mark Sanford would still be governor if he’d been having an affair with a man or a black woman?

    Jenny, please stand up for the people of this state and call on your soon to be ex-husband to resign NOW.

  • Stella

    I really admire Mrs. Sanford for standing up for herself. It is so refreshing. We would all send our husbands packing if they cheated on us. She has set a wonderful example about what is acceptable behavior when you are in a committed relationship.

  • Erin

    Could you please ask Jenny if she felt differently about the affair because her husband was actually in love with this other woman rather than just “messing around.” I would like to add that she is a strong, inspiring woman. Thank you

  • Sharon

    She married a very immature man with few if any appealing traits. I wish her the best as she moves forward.

    My question: But why write this book? What is the difference between her husband’s bizarrely revealing press conference and her revealing book?

  • Joe

    Grit and Grace…

    If I was her father, I could not be more proud of how she has behaved.

  • http://npr.org Kristen

    Too much more of the same old same old. I can see telling the kids about their father’s baloney but why must the general public be brought into this dirty laundry? And why write a book? The public is no longer shocked by what politicians do, especially the men.

    Failed marriages are never the fault of just one person. I suggest just stopping with all the sharing and getting on with it.

  • MJ

    I have to admit that I felt sympathy for her until she tried to blame the dissolution of her “perfect” relationship on gay marriage. Seriously?

    Oh, right. Because men weren’t cheating on their wives – or women on their husbands, for that matter – before gays were allowed to marry.

    That’s a terrific example for your children. Shame on you.

  • Melanie

    Jenny- Was your quote blaming your husband’s affair on gay people accurate or a misquote? If it is true, please explain how gay people and our struggle for equality has anything to do with your husband making a public sham of your marriage.

  • Sara

    I admire Jenny Sanford for the strength she has shown in the past year. Yet, I have to ask how she reconciles her wish to protect her sons from the fallout of the scandal with her decision to write a book about it and to promote it on national television and radio?

  • JP

    The more these lying liars proclaim their religious fervor, the less they should be trusted.

    When will voters learn such simple lessons about the ***holes they put in office?

  • Warren

    I wish Tom would ask Ms. Sanford about her stance on equal rights for gay and lesbians. The Governor remains opposed to gay marriage, gay civil unions and gay adoption. Does she also? Isn’t there an obvious hypocrisy here?

  • Brian

    Come on Tom, who cares about a tea-party governor from a back water state and his infidelity? Let’s raise the bar a bit more, please!

  • Ellen Dibble

    I’m guessing maybe Jenny Sanford hasn’t been drenched in issues about gay equal rights the way she has about divorce and infidelity. That’s asking a lot.

  • John

    Articulate and poignant and certainly a sad event for any family but why the book? Publishing a book in such short time seems exploitative in the “tell-all” genre.

  • Peggy

    Whenever a public affair such as this is discussed we always draw very clear blame lines. The victim and the perpetrator. We demonize the perpetrator and we canonize the victim. That’s what you and every other media outlet promoting Ms. Sanford’s book, are doing here. Would you please ask Ms. Sanford what her role was in the breakdown of this marriage. I can almost guarantee you that Mark Sanford would not have allowed himself to make these stupid and tragic mistakes if he had had a strong, joyful, romantic marriage at home. Ms. Sanford was one half that marriage and she bears one half of the responsibility for its success or failure. In this case, it failed. But in all the interviews I have heard with her, I have yet to hear her address this key issue. What did she do wrong? Surely she is not a complete saint. To address this issue would help all of us understand better the challenges of marriage – whereas your current discussion does little to this end, but simply paints her as an angelic victim and him as a philandering demon. Surely that is not accurate, and it is certainly not helpful.

  • Tom from Boston

    This is a complete non-story. This is a good example of how far journalism has strayed from its primary mission. This is an easy story do to. We need more coverage of what’s happening in the spheres of government and big business. You know, the difficult stories. Not this fluff.

  • Sarah Roche-Mahdi

    Why do we need this? This is just more celebrity gossip and sensationalism. I’m sure many women wish they could publish books about their husband’s infidelity. Revenge can seem sweet. But don’t call her “first lady”. No lady would dream of spilling all on mass media. This is–or should be– a private matter between spouses.

  • John

    I’m guessing maybe Jenny Sanford hasn’t been drenched in issues about gay equal rights the way she has about divorce and infidelity. That’s asking a lot. – Posted by Ellen Dibble,

    Then maybe she shouldn’t comment on it: “Of course I’m not saying that Mark is gay,” Sanford said, “but he may as well be. The moral decay in this country has claimed another victim and this time it was my family. Our marriage was perfect until these laws started passing around the country. Clearly the slow dissolution of the sanctity of marriage in America seeped into Mark’s psyche until he no longer felt compelled to abide by our vows.”

  • Carl

    Shame on On Point. Other males and females have been unfaithful. Are you going to interview all of them? This is not news. This is like the daytime talk shows, Jerry Springer, etc. Get back to real news.

  • Jay Nolan

    I cannot understand why Tom Ashbrook is interviewing Ms. Sanford. It feels to me that the subject of a very public infidelity is not one for this program. I appreciate that she has written a book about it but why not leave it in this domain. Thank you. JN

  • Ellen Dibble

    Oh, is that what she said. I missed it. Aaargh. I hope she revisits that perspective. Ahem.

  • John

    A show on hiking would be more interesting.

  • Tom

    I am from Columbia and I feel sorry for the children, but Mark Sanford treated his family like he treats our state. He may be frugal, but he sends his kids to private schools as ours are crumbling and flies first class as our roads are the unsafest in the nation. One cannot separate the politics of self righteousness with this tragedy.

  • http://www.buddhaspillow.blogspot.com Paul Creeden

    I feel great empathy for anyone who endures a dysfunctional relationship, but I do not see the use of a failed relationship to launch a media career as either moral or ethical. Capitalizing on your pain and your children’s pain in this by presenting yourself as a religious martyr is rather cynical, in my opinion. Where were your Catholic social morals when your husband was falsely using his religiosity for political and your shared monetary gain? It always takes two people to destroy a relationship. Motherhood does not absolve your share of responsibility or your current use of the embarassing situation for personal celebrity and profit. This may sound harsh, but the political machine you and your husband rode has been extremely harsh from a hyper-religious sense of superiority.

  • Carolann Najarian

    Please ask Jenny: Is convinced that this affair was his one and only affair.


  • Andrea Vergara

    Dear Tom, I really don’t understand how a serious journalist like you can spend time and energy on a domestic issue. Because that’s all this is. Yes, the governor lied to Jenny and betrayed her trust, not good. But he is a normal human being that fell in love with someone other than his wife. It can happen to the best of us. I think it would be very hypocritical to state otherwise. So why demmonize this guy, who by the way confessed in public his true feelings? Now is Jenny a good wonan? Yes, apparently so, and strong. Is she some kind of hero? No, she was betrayed and divoreced her husband, that’s all that happened.



  • JP

    … more anecdotes about her husband’s endearing, “quirky,” frugality. I’ll repeat my post from above:

    Jenny Sanford relates many anecdotes about how her husband was very frugal (cheap, in fact).

    I would ask if she ever really knew this man who was obviously a habitual hypocrite and liar.

    Flying himself and his lover back and forth to carry on a long distance love affair over years isn’t very cheap, and must have cost an immense amount of money.

    It sounds like this man was only “cheap” when it came to his family, but certainly not when it came to his own selfish pleasure.

  • jim thompson

    Tom, Mark Sanford has admitted to having affairs with at least seven other women besides the lady from Argentina. Did Jenny know about these too?

    Frankly, the more I hear her the less I like or have sympathy for her. Empathy yes, sypmathy no.

    What’s to deal with her comments on gays/gay amrriage?

  • Tom

    Tis interview says it all….if she cares so much for her sons why call them self-absorbed on national TV?


  • beverly

    Shame on NPR for giving this book so much publicity.
    Ms. Sanford seems to have lost touch with reality as much as her husband has. This should be her & her sons’ private business. Infidelity is as old as marriage and she is not the first woman scorned who wishes to get her revenge. The difference is Ms.Sanford has an audience. I hope at some point she sits back & realizes how she has taken advantage of this situation at the cost of her own integrity . This “tell all” is not newsworthy. I listen to NPR because you typically concentrate on more substantive issues than such “Inside Edition” fare.

  • Arman

    Maybe enough of this genuflecting in front of a regular story? If it were more normal for a middle aged man married for a long time to a middle aged woman to fall in love with somebody else, there would not be a problem with him “coming out” with this love story, separating from his family (or not) and continuing with his career etc. When this faithfulness bs stops, good it may be for some lucky ones, when a wife or husband wear a catheter?

  • Lisa Robbins

    Jenny Sanford is bringing to light a serious long term and continuous issue with integrity. There is a lack of integrity in the thoughts and actions of her husband but also with the woman he had an affair with. This is not an issue that is isolated to those in high profile positions. People do not care about families. This obviously goes for men as well as women. There are plenty of men behaving this way but there are the women they are having the affair with who know they are married and have children. How do they live with themselves. How weak people are that they can’t address their problems and issues inside the marriage. If that is not possible, have a relationship after the marriage is over. Very cowardly and not the characteristics we should want representing us politically.

    n the long run we have the bigger problem of our sons growing up with this sort of example of marriage. How can they be taught to care when their own father chooses himself and a mistress over them and their lifelong health.

  • Paula Durrant

    Jenny is describing the behavior of a person who suffers from the narcissistic personality disorder … kind when convenient otherwise cold … doting when convenient, otherwise self-absorbed and ignorant of needs of people around him. The cheapness … the affair … letting her drive in a snowstorm a car she didn’t understand … he is a fullblown personality disorder

  • Melanie


  • Cillia

    Jenny Sanford, I admire you beyond words. Several callers expressed what I would like to, if I had the words!

    I wanted to suggest something: perhaps Mark Sanford has a very slight, very high level of Aspergers Syndrome. A psychiatrist who specializes in this matter would be able to help with this idea, tho they probably wouldn’t “diagnose”, per se, without Mark in attendance. I have been told that a program at Yale University has the deepest level of understanding about Aspergers. Everything that you say about him, and every way in which you read his behaviors over the years, makes me think I am correct on this.

  • Ellen Dibble

    As long as religion is part of the far right agenda, the experience of the Sanfords is important to me. I think we need to understand the public/private interplay as best we can.

  • Tom

    As a daily listener to OnPoint I must say I am truly disappointed in this broadcast. If you choose to do a show on this person and her book, why not ask the tough questions? Could you not simply put a link to her amazon purchase page on your website and treat us to something of substance?

  • MTS

    I agree with those who are describing this topic as unworthy of OP.
    So much treacly moralistic sentiment about fidelity and faith.
    These are private matters, and I simply can’t understand why people pretend to be surprised and scandalized – people become dissatisfied with their spouses and fall in love with others – be adults!
    Also, the hypocrisy of someone who purports to be concerned for her family, and yet splashes the scandal over the best-seller lists – come on, admit it, it’s about revenge and money.
    But…I’m European, so I guess I don’t get it. I guess I’ll have to go re-read Cotton Mather or Nathaniel Hawthorne.

  • Jenny

    Jenny Sanford’s brand of you-go-girl conservative righteousness is right up there with Sarah Palin’s insidious backwards “feminism”. It gestures towards women’s empowerment, but it actually serves to support a very narrow, particular definition of gender roles: Women must be devoted servants to the cause of maintaining white, Christian, male dominance – devoted, devoted, devoted…to husbands, sons, and finally, when all else fails, to Jesus, who in Jenny’s own words, “never disappoints”.

  • Manny

    The “story” on gay marriage was posted as satire, but a lot of people picked it up as truth, and the hosting site never saw a problem with it:


  • Cillia

    ooops, I missed part of the show, so I must have missed the part about gays/gay marriage. I’ll have to wait for the podcast, but, if Jenny has prejudice there, I may have to amend my comment, above. But, I still make my suggestion in my second paragraph.

  • QW III

    Tawdry and tasteless, but what else would you expect from ulta-liberal NPR?

  • Tom Keefe

    I’d just like to say that a lot has been said about how inspirational Ms. Sanford is to women who have gone through similar experiences, but -in fact- I believe she is also an important model for men whose wives have been unfaithful as well.

  • Ellen Dibble

    So to satisfy Peggy, above, who wants to know the two sides of a relationship falling apart, maybe we can have someone come on whose primary focus is: All the ways in which I contributed to the dissolution of my marriage? (without being unfaithful by the way)?

  • Michael

    her book is about money and revenge nothing more. Nice to see her trying to profit from her husbands cheating was she also part of the “Family”?

  • http://ktornquist.com Kathryn Tornquist

    Our culture is so ungrounded when it comes to marriages & affairs. I applaud Ms. Sanford’s ability to attempt to understand and forgive vs. judge. Healthy marriages almost never have affairs – which, of course, is WHOLLY the responsibility of that partner. But the affair is a SYMPTOM, not the problem! It can become the problem if that partner won’t end the affair to see if the marriage can be healed. Ms. Sanford addresses issues that could underlie the relationship issues, e.g. the disconnected nature of the job. “Working on a marriage,” to which we give uninformed lip service, means intentionally nurturing the marriage friendship (J.Gottman) vs. taking the relationship for granted. When the friendship is weakened, partners can become vulnerable to the chemistry (predominantly Phenylethylamine) that drives the falling in love experience. Our culture says “It is sufficient to go forth and love each other,” with no grounded understanding of what is required to keep a relationship alive over decades. It is that aliveness that supports our marriage commitment, which is so much more than sexual fidelity. Then a high profile (or not) affair comes out, and we ignore the profound complexity and jump to “offender” condemnation and pity or sainthood for the “offended.” I am grateful that Ms. Sanford sidesteps the judgment, begins to illuminate the complexity, and still holds him accountable for his behavior. Refreshing – yet there is still SO MUCH MORE….

  • Ed Murphy

    I am disappointed in you, Tom, for wasting our time with Mrs. Sanford. With all the serious issues facing the US and the world, why would you turn On Point into an adjunct of Peoples’ Magazine?

    From where I sit, Mrs. Sanford made a calculated decision to ride the fame and glory train operated by Mark, despite many warning signs. She got burned, and she has made another calculated decision to leave him, thinking, I’m sure, that life on the talk show circuit and revenue from appearances and books was the more lucrative way to go–now that Mark is in the dumpster. I can’t imagine anything more worthless upon which to report,

    Generally, Tom, your show is good. This is only the second time I’ve felt compelled to write critically of it. That other time involved a show on a woman from rural Iowa, who carried with her into old age the scars of being taunted by city kids in her high school. Now that I think of it, that show was more interestinbg than today’s.

  • ai

    If Gov. Sanford were a Democrat, I doubt he would still be in office. That he is, says more about the citizens and politicians of his state than the facts of his personal and professional failings.

    I guess when you are a member of god’s party, only your god is qualified to judge you.


  • jeffe

    I am I the only one who sees what this show is? Jenny Sandford is on a publicity tour for her book. This was part of that. Like I said before, I’m sorry she married a creep but do we need to have this boring soap opera on air?

    This is an episode out of All My Children…

  • Gordon

    Here’s a link to the Democracy Now segment Ellen mentioned (I think):


  • Jacky

    Having been betrayed recently, I appreciate someone talking about this in an intelligent manner. The opposite of a soap opera, this is a profound reality. Too often women are asked to put aside their feelings to please others. I am glad she did not.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Gordon, yes, that is the program I was thinking of, author Jeff Sharlet, “The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.” I recall Sanford was to some extent on tap as presidential material. The date 8/12/09 might be a rebroadcast.
    As to whether this is boring material, or private, it is — in many ways trite, in many ways off limits. Close the door. Yet if a marriage is getting rocky, the effects can ricochet around, far beyond the spouse and children. Soap operas may help us make sense of this carefully guarded part of our lives. But one wonders how informed the Enquirer’s insights are. Isn’t “it” just attempts to sensationalize?
    Here, with Sanford’s publicity and book, parallels with Sarah Palin do come to mind, her writing to clarify and correct, to take advantage. There is a big difference, of course, however.

  • Brett

    I missed the first 20 minutes or so of this program, but when I tuned in I heard what I expected to hear…someone who is essentially the flip side of her soon-to-be ex-husband. My parents live in SC, and I visit them periodically (more so in the past year because my dad broke his hip, then later my mom was diagnosed with stage-3 cancer).

    I have listen to politics and politicians from SC very carefully because of my connection to that state. I heard Mark Sanford address the General Assembly during the issues with his not wanting to take Stimulus money; which, SC has been hit hard by our national economic crisis and schools in that state are literally crumbling from disrepair. Unemployment is high, their employment securities commission is a mess, and many jurisdictions have had a tough time meeting payroll in providing essential services such as police, fire fighters, teachers, etc., and it seemed a shame that Governor Sanford had to be forced to take Stimulus money to help keep the state afloat. His response/opposition seemed more in the realm of ideological and political posturing than in the mindset of governing.

    I also remember SC had a terrible time last year with wild fires getting out of control and causing a lot of damage. During that time Governor Sanford was out of the state on “business” and it was found that at least part of the time he had been seeing his mistress. Later, during his “hike along the Appalachian Trail” he left the state and country for, what was it, five or six days, and told neither his staff nor his colleagues in the state legislature where he was. There was a panic for a period of time because of this, and he left no one in charge in his stead. A state vehicle he was using was found at an Atlanta airport, I think it was…

    Of course, we all heard his press conference upon his return that meandered into self-evaluative musings and a confessional therapy session when his charge should have been to reassure the people of his state that “business as usual” would have to change into something much more professional.

    Since then, it has been found that he, at times, used the advantage of his position during state-funded business trips to make detours to see his mistress. He also often stayed in very expensive hotels, flew first class, etc. (some of which he has since paid back to the state). This, all while chastising other government officials about travel expenses and the need to rein in spending. This issue was even one of his campaign pledges: reducing the expenditures for the ways state officials travel! He also ran on God and family, and moral responsibility…blah, blah…ad nauseam. Not to mention he had harsh criticisms for Bill Clinton when news of Clinton’s affair became public.

    I didn’t find his affair in and of itself to be problematic; I saw it as a personal and family tragedy. My objection to his actions was in his hypocrisy. I also thought he displayed such an overt error in judgement and a profound lack of responsibility to the people of his state.

    Mark Sanford is also a member of “The Family.” This is a group of powerful and wealthy Christian men who have a headquarters on C Street in Washington, D.C. They had tax-exempt status for many years because they were incorporated as a church (they lost that status last year). Their objective appears to be to facilitate and spread the idea of Christianity into business and politics. Many congressional leaders are also members. The faction of the family Mark Sanford belongs to believe that they have been pre-ordained by God to have wealth, and to hold positions of power. They also believe that while they may stray from a path of righteousness from time to time, they see themselves as above others because of being chosen by God to achieve His goals. Senator John Ensign, who is also a member of “The Family” was counseled by members when he had his affair on ways to buy off those who knew about his affair and might potentially cause him political harm. Sanford was also counseled on ways he could minimize political fall-out from his affair.

    When I first heard of Sanford’s affair, I had sympathy for Jenny Sanford. It must have been emotionally devastating and a profound embarrassment for her. She seemed to handle the situation with a dignity rarely seen these days, which has made her very popular with the people in her state and around the country. I didn’t think much beyond that until mention of her book in the media. And in hearing her speak on the show today, I find her media blitz, if you will, to be supremely egotistical and even narcissistic, as well as opportunistic.

    Both she and her husband display a kind of hubris to think their personal stories warrant so much public confession and analysis. Both, of course, have motives for such desire to be in the spotlight. Mark wants to salvage some semblance of a political career and retain governorship; Jenny’s motives seem less clear, although some may very well be part of a healing process and her way of coming to terms with the emotional turmoil she has had to endure. I don’t begrudge her that aspect of what may be going on. I do not much care for the ostensible opportunistic quality of her decision, though, to get a book out and move closer to the spotlight; it doesn’t quite square with her so-called desires to have normalcy return to her family. I suspect that partly it is a decision to garner support and gain advantage in the settlement of her divorce. I also get a strong sense that she will emerge as a political figure sometime in the next two-four years, maybe as a candidate herself for the governorship, or for the state legislature, maybe even state senator, who knows, but keep an eye on Jenny Sanford. She is headed for political renown.

  • Rick Evans

    Tina Brown got it right about Jenny Sanford and her book this A.M. on Morning Edition. These “wronged” women knowingly marry powerful, ambitious, slimy men then act shocked, SHOCKED that slimy guys act slimy. Glad I avoided this waste of an hour.

  • Brett

    “Jenny Sanford’s brand of you-go-girl conservative righteousness is right up there with Sarah Palin’s insidious backwards “feminism”. It gestures towards women’s empowerment, but it actually serves to support a very narrow, particular definition of gender roles: Women must be devoted servants to the cause of maintaining white, Christian, male dominance – devoted, devoted, devoted…to husbands, sons, and finally, when all else fails, to Jesus, who in Jenny’s own words, “never disappoints”.” -Jenny

    I found myself nodding in agreement with this comment. Ms. Sanford sounds like she has engaged in a mixture of naivete, submissiveness to chauvinism, blind religiosity, and a desire to acquire power.

    She played a very large role in Gov. Sanford’s rise to power. There has also been much rumor for years about Mark Sanford being a philandering and selfish person. Jenny Sanford doesn’t strike me as quite as naive as she appears. Also, she knew where the governor was when he was off seeing his mistress. She kept it from his staff and colleagues who were quite in a panic at one point. If Mark Sanford had decided not to go public, I think most likely she would have been happy to be complicit in his behaviors. She obviously likes the spotlight and power. It’s just that Mark Sanford didn’t give her a choice with his “press conference.”

  • http://npr.org INASTUPOR

    Mark to Jenny: Why are you schocked that I bit you? You knew I was a snake when you met me.

    Jenny to Mark: Yes, but now I have enough slime on you to write a book and become rich (er). It was worth the wait.

    Argentinian Soulmate: This will never, never happen to me.

    Sandford Boys: I’m going to stay safe and self-absorbed, and I’m never getting married.

    Public: Yawn.

  • Susan L.

    With infidelity as high as it is in this country I think it is instructive to learn what drives this treachery and how the wronged grapple with the consequences. This story captivated the country and her book is sure to be a best seller. Because she is a public person by marriage, I think she deserves the right to tell her side of the story, especially when there has been so much misinformation.

  • Mark

    The Daily Show interview Tom mentioned was indeed revealing. How does a Christian take such blithe pleasure in the forced servitude of other human beings? All of this self-serving righteousness is a little hard to take, and if the tables were turned and Jenny Sanford were a man complaining about his cheating wife I think many people would just call him a fool.

  • Carmela

    It works both ways why do marriages fail and end in cheating? Sure we can’t understand why these things happen but sometimes it is because we feel neglected and not appreciated. I neglected my husband but he has never cheated on me, it was me. We are working on staying together but my spouse still does not understand marriage is not just a business deal, it is more than that and spending time together is not what he is good at. I can’t say my hubby won’t cheat now and that will always be in the back of my head.

  • Steven Clemens

    I cannot help but wonder, would Secretary Clinton be President Clinton if she had responded to President Clinton’s infidelity in a manner more similar to Jenny Sanford?

  • gina

    “A show on hiking would be more interesting.” — John


  • JC

    Many people are unfaithful.Couples often split up. Why are we focusing on this particular woman?

  • dana

    too bad npr wastes time on this, just like diane rehm wasted time on the wife of that other southern pres candidate…what’s his name, with the smooth hairdo? I think these women are disturbed, using their one chance of noteriety to earn some bucks, and ignoring the that it will humiliate their children in the process. I always change channels at even a sniff of this sensationalist stink.

  • gina

    “The “story” on gay marriage was posted as satire, but a lot of people picked it up as truth …”

    Whoops, Poe’s Law strikes again.

    BTW, for the people wondering why he wasn’t pressured out of office: I remember reading at the time of his unexplained disappearance, etc. that the lieutenant governor, who was next in line if he resigned, was in the view of many citizens of South Carolina, an even bigger idiot than Sanford.

  • http://npr.org COMATOSE

    Give me a break–instructive? Who cares? It’s all her perspective and imagination unless he writes a book, too, and I pray that he doesn’t. No one wants to read about old guys and their precious searches for their soulmates. He’s a philanderer and she’s a revenge seeker of the lowest kind, one who thinks it’s just fine to drag everyone not involved in their marital mess through the mud with them.

    My goldfish are more mature, loyal, and loving than these two infants.

  • http://npr.org cupotea

    Tom: I still love you in spite of the whole Jenny thing, and I will continue to listen to your programs during my lunch hour while the snowplows bury cars in the parking lot.

    Fellow Bloggers: This was awesome. Though I will never read this woman’s book, I have enjoyed reading your observations about it.

    And to all a good night.

  • Ellen Dibble

    COMATOSE/INASTUPOR, you beat me to it on the lightbulb, in re: “Now I have enough slime on you via my marriage to write a book.”
    The far more attractive book, in many ways, would be the tale of that “hike in the Appalachians,” with the tears and the soulmate, the finagling for cover, for escape. The scramblings of the lost soul in a storm make far far more interesting reading than the spine of the individual holding firm in the gale.
    Mark to Jenny: “My dear, you have taken the lead in book-philandering, sharing our lives the way I shared my body, and so it is my turn. I will “Find Myself,” or however you phrase it, by writing the True Story of my Life in Argentina. And then we can run for president against one another.”
    I watch this unfold the way I watch the Tea Party evolve, very carefully.

  • Brett

    “BTW, for the people wondering why he wasn’t pressured out of office: I remember reading at the time of his unexplained disappearance, etc. that the lieutenant governor, who was next in line if he resigned, was in the view of many citizens of South Carolina, an even bigger idiot than Sanford.” -gina

    Gina, this is SO TRUE!!! Lt. Governor of SC Andre Bauer is a genuine tool! He recently, in a town hall meeting, equated children who receive free lunches in school and their parents to a problem of feeding stray animals, that people will not learn to fend for themselves and will become dependent. Let’s see if I can give you the quote:

    “My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals, you know why? Because they breed. You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce…And so what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to curtail that type of behavior. They don’t know any better.”

    He was commenting that children should lose the free lunch benefit if their parents don’t attend parent-teacher conferences and PTA meetings, and that parents should be subjected to regular, random drug testing. The irony of this is that he was the product of a home of divorce, and benefitted himself as a child from the free lunch programs!!!

    There is so, so much poverty in SC, and the student scores in that state are very low…I guess this was Baeur’s great idea in addressing those problems!

  • Laurie Vincent

    What about YOUR integrity?

    Jenny, what about commitment to marriage, no matter what? Marriage vows say “‘until death do us part.” It shouldn’t matter if HE broke his vows. You should not have broken yours by ordering him out and divorcing him.

    Integrity is the act of remaining true to your commitment, even when the situation has changed.

  • Natalie M.

    She gave him more than enough chances at reconciliation and foregiveness. He proved himself incapable of living up to his part of the bargain and there’s only room for two in a marriage. You ask way too much Laurie, or is it Tammie?

  • joel nickerson

    Feb. 10, 2010
    Dear Tom:

    We’re beginning to become concerned about the choice of interviews on your show.

    On Wednesday, 2-10. you had Jenny Sanford on to discuss her book.
    It seems to us (Ebony&Ivory) that with all the issues our republic is facing that some more appropriate authors could have been invited on your show.
    People such as Malalai Joya, a courageous Afghanistani female politician whose book speaks to real oppression of women and spells out the reasons why we shouldn’t be in their country would have been a better choice than Ms. Sanford who’s more interested in vengeance than our country’s ills,

    Another choice could have been Jeremy Scahill who’s written about the dark side of our military. I believe he has been on with you, but a second time still would have better
    Or perhaps an expansion of your first hour with Professor Lessig and Jonathon Turley,

    Tom please leave this type of stuff to the tabloids and cable tv.

    Two of your faithful listeners
    Nick Mendes (Ebony)
    Joel Nickerson (Ivory)

    PS just saw your lineup for Thursday thanx

  • Ellen Dibble

    Quoting the current WBUR introduction, it says Sanford says of her “Staying True”: ‘It’s more the story of how you stay focused on your values and who you are, and not let somebody else’s poor choices somehow degrade you or shame you or make you feel something you shouldn’t feel,’ Sanford said.” She says she does not want her views to be seen as applicable to other political spouses. Nor really about being a jilted spouse.
    Oh, I don’t think the show or the forum went that way. I haven’t read it, but there is an important direction there: Love is not about losing yourself in another person. (I believe psych lingo calls that codependency, and I heard a minister call Jesus the ultimate codependent, sort of challenging the idea of independence within relatedness.) The idea that you have to differentiate and get a good sense of boundaries before committing to marriage I think is well-established in psychology. I think there was once a “boundary disorder” — or borderline disorder? Which by some sleight of language included being on a razor edge near disconnection from reality as well as not seeing the line between self and other.
    “Devoted, devoted” may be true from womb to tomb, the I and Thou inextricably entwined by our natural interpersonal resonance, but if that is the foundation of a relationship, it is likely to unravel.
    So a psychological journey was of necessity undertaken, and the book supposedly tracks that — I think.

  • Mandy

    She may be a nice person but she married a scumbag and the scumbag had it (before they got married) written all over his face who he was, he waved signs, he submitted papers that basically said: I am God, you are nothing, you never will be more than my servant. And yet she married her. She shares the blame for giving birth to 4 children FROM this guy!!!!!

  • Ellen Dibble

    I’m not saying she is the person to track that journey of redifferentiation, or whatever it is. But plenty of women, given a choice/obligation, would write a book that is as much of a whitewash job as possible, a pretty short book. “We grew apart.” “I realized I had missed this or that about him.” Or in the case of people who choose to weather the scumbag’s ways, you learn what you can speak about as common ground, a shrinking space. The man takes the downstairs; the woman takes the upstairs. Outsiders become insulation. You stick by the man, but not too close. The children may have a more nuanced view of the situation (than readers currently have).

  • Michael

    I heard most of the interview last night on KVCR-FM and I was astounded as to how long Jenny Sanford stayed with an obviously narcissistic kook. Looking back on my second marriage that ended in divorce I can see how wacky and unreasonable I was even though I thought I had learned something from my first marriage (no children in either one). Marriage is hard work which involves a ‘chemical’ attraction at first with emotional and mental maturity along with it. Is Mark Sanford related to the late governor and senator from North Carolina, Terry Sanford–who also ran for president in 1976, I think? The women I have been with in my life (I’m over 67) would not have put up with the shenanigans Jenny relates about her hubby for one hour, let alone one day! I wonder what Dr Laura would have advised on her radio advice show…

  • Eric Carr

    Two Points:
    First, I admit the following is a tough question for First Lady Jenny Sanford: What do you think was missing in your marriage to (Governor) Mark Sanford that he felt that he needed to look for (it) outside of his marriage?

    As a former New Yorker, I want to mention that decades ago NY Gov. Nelson Rockefeller had a divorce and shortly thereafter married a member of his staff.

    The point of the later is that Gov. Rockefeller’s behavior is a somewhat similar example and yet he survived in political office and even went on to become Vice President of the US.

  • BJK

    I thought I was listening to the “National Enquirer Hour”, if there is such a thing.

  • Dan

    What if he just fell in love? Should he stay in the marriage if he had truly found his soul mate?

  • shar

    What Jenny Samford calls “quirky” is actually a classic case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder…….she does not have a clue about who the REAL man is she married. I have been married to and deceived by one now for 27 years; I will be 60 this year. My family has been destroyed as hers has by my husbands choices, and my life is a nightmare of lies and deceptions by a man that says and does whatever his “audience” expects at the moment. SELF-ABSORBED and never personally accountable only begins to describe a personality that cannot empathize and has no remorse for hurting others; their whole “game” is getting an angle over on someone with a self-serving motive. And they will use any platform or stage to do it……including public office, pulpit, choir, or Sunday School class. They “say” they believe in strong family values and they even quote the bible better than most, but the matter of the heart is the heart of the matter and they do not have any heart.

    I do not know even after 30 years who my husband REALLY is……and neither does he. And neither does Mr or Mrs Samford or their four sons know in their situation. But for sure, what the public “sees” and knows is NOT what his family experiences in reality behind closed doors. He can talk the talk of faith, but he has no idea how to apply biblical principles to his everyday life, decisons and family. Walking the walk of authenticity and integrity is a foreign concept.

    I am a Protestant believer in Christ and pray each day to live the walk of faith authentically in my personal life. I can only be true and faithful in my own decisions and heart; I cannot do it for my husband and I am not accountable or responsible or to blame for his choices–whether right or wrong.

    I have been reading for understanding about this baffling disorder for years now. It still has not helped me get off the treadmill totally, but I do know that is the only choice you have for sanity……to leave (either literally in fact or emotionally disconnect) and not look back. I admire Jenny for being strong enough in her walk with The LORD to do what is her only choice when there are not TWO willing to forgive and reconcile. She is exactly correct. Forgiveness is required/mandatory on both sides, but the process is not complete without reconciliation. He has not been willing to do that part of the hard work back to the unity and trust of his wife and sons. And she cannot make him do it.

    She does need more understanding about this disorder and disfunctional behavior. This is not just another torrid affair by a man that has gone off-track and lost his way and moral compass as she calls it. This is a man that has deep-rooted phychological and sociopathic issues that he must confront in order to ever be different and capable of REAL UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.

    I suggest that Jenny and you others out there dealing with this same brokenness in your families begin to read and study about NPD……Patricia Evans has three excellent books to understanding….read them all in order. Then read “Why Does He Do That?” by Lundy Bancroft, “Adult Children of the Self Absorbed”,(check author) and Sam Vadkin “Malignant Self Love” to put it all into words.

    Narcissistic Personality Disorder NPD is not what you think it is if you have never studied or researched it……And you are very blessed if you did not marry one. Hopefully, you will never have to know. But those of us who have lived and been the recipient of the fallout and insanity and “hell on earth” of NPD know without a shadow of a doubt that Jenny Samford has done the best she could with dignity and integrity and she has made the right decision for the sake of her sons. And once she truly understands the pathology that she has really been dealing with, I hope that she will write another book for the sake of all us other regular women and mothers (maybe in less public roles and fishbowls), but nevertheless, just as devastated by loving someone with NPD.

    I highly recommend reviewing Sandra Brown’s books and seminars whose mission is to reveal the truth about this and help all those who feel they have no place to turn. If you think you may be dealing with this in your own life, Look her up at:

    I pray some of this information helps someone out there that has been feeling helpless and hopeless. I appreciate the airing of the radio interview that I stumbled on surfing this morning. The LORD says with your wisdom to get understanding and I pray that you will seek both from Him Above and receive answers to your prayers for your life and families.

    Blessings, Shar

  • Maureen

    Please no more of this sort of interview, Tom….such a disappointment for your listeners.
    Remember? “NPR: your news and culture station.”
    Well yeah, I know about the broad notion of “culture,” but still!

  • http://www.beccar.wordpress.com Eugenia Renskoff

    Jenny, I am glad you wrote the book. Eugenia Renskoff

  • realyplus@gmail.com

    Jenny, I too am so glad and grateful for your boldness and courage and truth-seeking as you wrote your book. Subsequent to hearing the NPR interview, I heard three others and you said that you were doing this to help other women and if even ONE was helped then it was worth it…..Well, I am indeed that ONE and I know that there are thousands of others that you have touched and helped….Thank you, and bless you and your sons in your life ahead…I do hope you will write another in a year or so……and thanks to NPR for covering this unfortunate event that is far too prevalent in the current news and our present culture…realtyplus@gmail.com

  • realtyplus@gmail.com

    typo correction to last post……thank you, shar

  • Ellen Dibble

    I’m reading what Shar says about narcissistic personality disorder, and what she describes is a spouse who uses church, choir, pulpit, Sunday School, public office, to bring another target/victim into his orbit, a sort of ensorcelment (a word I heard used today on the news describing the conquests of Tiger Woods).
    I have another word from the world of psychology: enmeshment. It is used to describe a sick and dysfunctional relationshp between mother and child, where the mother’s boundaries are weak, and her own rewards become the successes of the child; and if the child has needs that do not match her expectations, there is a kind of split in reality; the child has to conform to what she wants to see. Of course it is very controlling. And another aspect is the mother does not encourage and nurture relationships between the child and other people, but is very protective and exclusive.
    This reminds me of couples where domestic violence is involved, where any lack of perfect enmeshment shatters the perfectly ensorceled pairing. In a case of the serial philanderer, it would seem that the enmeshment is achieved by conquest, in a sexual act of almost religious transcendence. It can make you sick to think about it, except that some marriages, some affairs, are apparently meant to persist in that “blessed” state of — enmeshment? Psychologists, am I right? If the person differentiates, establishes boundaries, they become “other,” and another “conquest” must be attempted.

  • http://www.goldencurlsranch.com Angie Gaines

    At first I admired Jenny Stanford until I read she discussed with her ex-husband his desire not to use the term faithful in their marriage vows. Sounds like she had a clue before she jumped over the broom.
    Call me old fashioned but I will not spend my money on her spins and I hope the South Carolina taxpayers demand her ex-husband return the monies he used for personal use.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001292541925 Sandy Shore

    Painful post, but Very insightful  A good resource for you would be the book “The Sociopath Next Door”.  1 out of 26 people are sociopaths (not to be confused with psychopaths).  It should be required reading in every high school so the general population can be more aware.  To best manipulate, they hide out under the cover of churches, civic groups, etc., and are attracted to positions of power.  They work hard on developing a false empathy and super charismatic personalities.  (Whatever it take to control.)  They can fool the best therapists for years, so don’t blame yourself for becoming a victim.

    Sounds like a very healthy (and strong) move on your part to move on from an encounter with someone with this  “baffling disorder.”

    Many blessings, and best of luck.

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