Mark Sanford: A Very Strange ManS

Gov. Mark Sanford, whose surreptitious international wanderings—and possible affair!— have captured the nation's attention, is a deeply strange man. He's so cheap he built his dad's coffin, and digs holes to relax. Here's a rundown.

UPDATE: Sanford has been cheating on his wife and was with his mistress in Buenos Aires, a blogger reports. Oh, well, it's just some blogger, right? Nope. It's Sanford's former spokesman, who runs a South Carolina political blog.

First, the hole-digging: According to this American Conservative profile, an 8-year-old girl wandered onto Sanford's property in Lady's Island, S.C., and died. How, exactly, isn't clear, but Sanford paid her family around $300,000 in a settlement. She may have fallen into one of the holes Sanford dug on his property to clear his mind:

During Sanford's first gubernatorial campaign in 2002, an 8-year-old African-American girl wandered onto a Sanford family property on Lady's Island and drowned. A source close to the governor said she fell into a "retaining pond." Her family's lawyer, Manning Smith, called it a "pit." Other sources claim that Sanford, who owned a hydraulic excavator at the time, digs holes on his property to unwind.

Sanford's spokesman, Joel Sawyer, told TAC at the time that it "was a tragic accident, and Governor Sanford did everything he could to do right by the family involved."

Second, how cheap is Mark Sanford? This cheap:

"During his six years on Capitol Hill, he slept on a futon in his office, even though he's a millionaire who easily could have afforded a small apartment," says the National Review. "Then there's the one about Sanford's going to the movies with a couple of his fellow congressmen. He offered to buy them drinks at the concession stand—and came back to their seats with a big cup of Coke and three straws."

When his father died, TAC reports, "the Sanford family buried him under a pair of oak trees overlooking a river, according to his wishes. Mark built the casket."

Sanford refuses to turn on the air conditioner in the governor's mansion in South Carolina, where it is always oppressively hot and muggy. His wife must love him.

And finally, from his former spokesman, Will Folks:

"He'd pick up change from the street during an event. If he found an index card in the garbage and saw that only one side of it had been used, he would explain to the staffer,‘This is how campaigns are lost'," Folks says. Employees were sent to return supplies Sanford deemed too expensive or reimburse the campaign for their mistake. Even today, Sanford gets his hair cut at Supercuts-and brings a coupon.

Does this sound like the type of guy who would buy a last-minute plane ticket to Buenos Aires just for "exotic" kicks?

Also, Sanford's wife Jenny, who kicked off this whole mess by acknowledging to reporters that she had no idea where her husband was or what he was doing, and yesterday added that she's just "being a mom" and still hadn't heard from him, is no ingenue: She's managed all of Sanford's political campaigns (hiring managers can be expensive!). It's highly unlikely that she'd be capable of managing three successful congressional campaigns and two successful gubernatorial campaigns and still be stupid enough not to realize that saying those sorts of things to reporters might arouse suspicion. She knew what she was doing.

Oh, and he wind surfs, so he's as gay as John Kerry. And he lies about his name: It's really Marshall.

What does this mean? We don't know, other than that the guy is weird. And despite the lengths he goes to portray himself as a frugal, just-folks boy from the country, he met Jenny in the Hamptons while he worked at Goldman Sachs and lived in New York City. She worked on Wall Street.

But does he really have time to cut out for a week just to clear his head? Here's what he said in 2005 about his job: "I'm so busy as governor, I can barely breathe."