BY Samuel Goldsmith
DAILY NEWS WRITER
Nice try, Mark.
Gov. Mark Sanford's op-ed apology that ran in South Carolina newspapers Sunday fell flat as critics continued to blast the southern Luv Guv as a hypocrite.
The essay from the embattled Palmetto State governor said God would change him so he emerges a more humble and effective leader.
"It is true that I did wrong and failed at the largest of levels, but equally true is the fact that God can make good of our respective wrongs in life," Sanford wrote in the piece published in several South Carolina newspapers.
The Republican who was once talked about as a presidential contender returned from a mysterious, week-long disappearance last month to reveal a steamy romance with a longtime friend in Argentina. There has since been an overwhelming outcry for his resignation, but the governor says he's staying put.
"He gets caught living in what his religion considers sin and immediately say he's only responsible to God," said Doug Muzzio, a professor of public affairs at Baruch College.
"It's bad enough being a hypocrite, but being a loud hypocrite is even worse."
As a congressman, Sanford was an outspoken critic of then President Clinton's affair with intern Monica Lewinsky, and called on the president to resign.
"The issue of lying is probably the biggest harm, if you will, to the system of Democratic government . . . because it undermines trust," he told CNN at the time.
He voted to impeach Clinton, saying, "I think what he did in this matter was reprehensible."
Sanford's foes in South Carolina panned the apology.
"He's a helluva writer and a promise maker," said GOP state Sen. Jake Knotts, a frequent adversary who publicized Sanford's disappearance last month. "But he doesn't keep promises to the state of South Carolina like he doesn't keep promises to his wife."