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Dorothy Rabinowitz

Dorothy Rabinowitz

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By DOROTHY RABINOWITZWe can now add the sad-eyed Gov.

Mark Sanford, making his tearful public confessional, to the galaxy of similar fallen stars we have seen in this state before.

The question no one has ever answered is how they all fell into the grip of the same delusion: namely, that the way to retrieving dignity is to go before the microphones to issue craven apologies to a list of purported victims.Can these recitals, interrupted by barely suppressed sobs, acknowledgment of all the betrayed -- the family dog will be in there some day -- actually be what an adult male, whatever his status, imagines will do the trick? Perhaps someday one of these VIPs in trouble will figure out that on these occasions it's not such a great thing to go public looking like a pathetic dolt -- the kind of man who would induce instant headache and skin crawling in any woman imagining him as a lover.Can we dream that some day a Mark Sanford -- or any other self-acknowledged miscreant -- will say what there is to say and refuse to slobber before the cameras?"I come before you in what is clearly a predicament, but without, I hope any pretense.

There's no pretense in having an affair -- affairs are real, very compellingly so.

There are lies, yes -- to one's wife and family and staff -- but that's a different story.

And while I'm on the subject, let me say the only apology I plan to offer in public is to the members of my staff I left in confusion about my whereabouts with nonsense about hiking on the Appalachian Trail."I have no intention of babbling about mistakes, or about problems of exhaustion and stress that could have led to my affair -- and no intention of standing here, like so many dolts before me, looking vacant and miserable, as though I'd just come through some kind of punishment camp that left me brainwashed."I had an affair, not an overnight encounter -- and an affair, as you ladies and gentlemen of the media know -- is about falling for someone in a way that makes you forget about everything and everyone else.

It's true for men, it's true for women."I knew what I was doing, and, yes, I loved it, and all its pains, too.

That is an affair.

It works till its over, and the price can be high.

I don't expect to allow that price to include talking about this to the media, or answering their idiotic questions about how my wife feels, or whether I've talked to my children, or whether I can still imagine myself a contender for the presidency."Furthermore, I've seen too many breast-beaters in my situation deliver public apologies to their wives and children before crowds of reporters.

I have no intention of taking part in any such bizarre -- not to mention shameless -- spectacle.

A man who apologizes to his wife and children, who holds forth tearfully about having betrayed them, for media consumption, is, anyway, too lacking in dignity to hold public office of any kind."So let's understand this.

I plan to straighten my tie, button my jacket, maybe buy a new suit, and go forward to do what I have to do.

Life's complicated, ladies and gentlemen, but there's work to be done.

I'll have nothing further on this, count on it."All the best." Ms.

Rabinowitz is a member of the Journal's editorial board.

Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page A15's_Most_Popular
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