Mark Sanford lost his heart and lost his head.
As it turns out, that was just the beginning. His losses will only mount from here.
He's lost the chairmanship of the Republican Governors Association. He risks losing his beautiful wife and four sons. He has most assuredly lost any hope of being president of the United States.
And he will most likely lose his job as governor -- and should. Though we have been ultra-supportive of the governor, he admits, "I misled (staff) about my whereabouts, and as a result the people of South Carolina believed something that wasn't true." We don't see how he could or should survive that.
Mr. Sanford's worst loss, however, will be the trust his wife and sons and staff and people of South Carolina -- and conservatives everywhere -- placed in him.
Again, we don't know how he can earn back the voters' trust. And with so many enemies in the legislature, even among his own party -- largely because he tried to bring fiscal discipline to South Carolina's mob-rule system -- Sanford will surely be thrown to the wolves he himself attracted.
But as much as the national news media are framing this as a political story -- Gee, another Republican politician is brought down! Can he keep his job? Are his presidential aspirations finished? -- this is more personal than political. An imperfect man who happens to live in the public eye, again of his own choosing, has made some cataclysmically stupid and selfish decisions.
If the governor still seeks political redemption -- there was talk of a sort of statewide apology tour -- that may be both futile and misguided. If Mark Sanford is half the man we thought he was, he will eschew all political ambition and work on the personal. Get his heart straight, as he put it in his emotional press conference Wednesday. Get straight with his family.
The political dimensions pale in comparison to the governor's personal crisis. We wish him well in that endeavor and will keep him and his family in our prayers.
As for the politics, we're not as concerned about what his fall means for the partisan warfare or the presidential sweepstakes as we are that Sanford's level-headed conservative voice will be muted if not silenced. What a real shame for those of us who believe in the kind of limited government that the Constitution set out and that Sanford espoused.
That, as it turns, out, will be our loss.