Cheating: Is The Cover Up Worse Than The Crime?

Along with the rest of America, I’m rubbernecking at South Carolinian Gov. Mark Sanford’s affair with an Argentinian lass, Maria Belen Chapur (and I’m quietly cheering for Sanford’s wife, Jenny, for leaving him).

Cheating doesn’t speak well for a conservative Republican politician who preached “family values.” Sanford’s hypocrisy alone is gross. But married politicians dropping their drawers for women who aren’t their wives isn’t as interesting to me as the fact that Gov. Sanford told everyone he would be hiking on the Appalachian Trail when he was actually south of the border with his mistress.

The New York Times spoke with local press in South Carolina, who said they thought little of his absence because Sanford “has a pattern of quirky behavior” and is “kind of odd.” But when a local paper received a tip from an airline passenger that Sanford had been sighted on an airplane back from Argentina—not the Appalachian Trail—one thing became clear:

Sneaking around behind someone’s back is bad, but lying about it is infinitely worse.

In the Sanfords’ case, they separated two weeks prior and Jenny Sanford insists that she had no idea that Mark was in with Argentina with his mistress while everyone fretted he was missing. But Sanford most definitely lied to his staff, who in turn inadvertently lied to the media and South Carolinian citizens, about his whereabouts.

It would be funny…if it weren’t so sad.

The Washington Post watched Sanford’s teary press conference admitting to his affair and bungled cover up and offered this analysis:

The cover up is ALWAYS worse than the crime. It’s a cliche for a reason; note to future politicians: if you make a mistake, you need to own up to it immediately and totally. Do not obfuscate, do not try misdirection. In the modern media environment where private is public, the truth will come out.

But why stop at politicians, WaPo? Mere mortals try to obfuscate and misdirect when they’re cheating, too, ya know. A few months ago I was embroiled in a sex scandale of my own and witnessed this dynamic firsthand.

No marriage vows were harmed in the making of my mess, but I got in the middle of another couple’s four-year-long relationship: Girl meets boy, boy turns out to have girlfriend, boy says he wants to break up with girlfriend for girl, boy lies and said he broke up with girlfriend for girl, girl finds out boy lied, drama ensues. And when it all went down the tubes, my #1 concern (after getting my head out of my own ass) was making sure this cheating bastard did NOT get a chance to cover up his crime.

I’m not especially proud of what I did—I emailed the girlfriend and told her, in detail, how her guy had been cheating on her with me—but insofar as it did make me feel good was the sense that “justice had been served.” The jerk had been lying to her for months, and he’d just lied to me, so why wouldn’t he downplay just how long and just how much he had been cheating? It would be all too easy for him to just say I was a flirty girl with a crush on him. But I was angry and there was no way in hell that I was going to let him get away with it.

What do you think is worse—the cheating or the cover up? Or are they both equally as bad?