Ah, the smell test. It is an esoteric but popular tool to sniff out the rotten among the pure. Bottom line, if something don't smell right, it probably ain't.
Instead of the usual fisking today, I'll summarize Jim's thesis as "Governor Sanford's disappearance is not really a story and those that want it to be a story have an agenda". It's a familiar refrain. Friend Pye tends to agree with Jim although he leaves out the "agenda" part and it should be noted Jason doesn't normally dive into the mud with the media conspiracy kooks.
For those not enamored with the deep end of the political sludge, here's your handy recap: S.C. Governor Mark Sanford disappeared. Completely. For five days. The Lt. Governor didn't know his whereabouts. His security detail was mum. For God's sakes, the mother of his children had no answer. He simply vamoosed. On Father's day weekend. Without so much as a note.
A few days later, his staff declared he wanted to unwind and was taking a stroll on the Appalachian Trail.
If the story ended right there, I probably would agree with Pye and maybe even our old friend Jim.
But it didn't.
Turns out Sanford was not taking a bucolic stroll through the mountains. He completely left the country! Skipped town to head to the land of topless beaches and the tango without even leaving a note for his wife. Then again, what husband would leave that note?
We often hear, particularly from the elephantine side of the aisle, that the boss of the politician is the people. So, Jim may be right. It may not be a crisis, but what would your boss do if you skipped out for five days without telling a soul. Merely having to answer questions would be your best scenario. Surely, the people of South Carolina, you know, Sanford's boss, deserve a few straight answers for the rather bizarre situation. What they do with those answers and the consequences for Sanford will come later.
But back to Friend Pye's question - is this really newsworthy?
A governor who made national headlines for attempting to refuse federal bailouts, has been whispered as a Presidential candidate for 2012, suddenly disappears without a trace, is discovered in South America and his best explanation is he had to clear his head?
Well, in my book, where there's a smell, there's a story and there's a heap of stink around this one.
As for Jim. Too often laypeople confuse how papers are run. Ask the average Jack or Jill on the street who runs the paper and they will respond with a name from the editorial page. Perhaps even one Jim Wooten.
Now, if this were true and Jim did decide what was worthy of coverage, none of Sanford's story would have ever appeared. In Jim's mind, it's not germane to the political conversation of the day.
Let that roll around in your head for a few minutes.
Just don't let it stink up the joint.