Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How the Wronged Political Spouse Should Think, Speak, and Act

Being the gossip-loving primates we are, we have to expect news stories like this and the speculations they present:

When Silda Wall Spitzer stood beside her husband in ashen-faced misery the other day as the governor made his brief apology in the prostitution scandal, she uttered not a word. Yet she launched a thousand conversations.

"Why is she standing there?" many women wondered. "Should she be? Would I be?"

And for many, who've seen a long line of wronged political spouses do the same, from Hillary Rodham Clinton to Dina Matos McGreevey to Suzanne Craig, the immediate answer was a resounding, "Hell, no."
"Hell, no?" It's probably just another instance of my reluctance to state an opinion on controversial subjects, but I cannot relate to this level of confident bluster.

I honestly have no idea how the wife of former governor Eliot Spitzer should respond. And even with the benefit of time and experience, I remain unsure in my assessments of the responses of Mrs. Clinton, Mrs. Vitter, Mrs. Craig, Mrs. McGreevey, and the rest. I have often wondered how Mrs. Bush truly feels about having a retarded husband, but I can only guess in the end.

I gather "Wronged Political Spouse" is an archetype against which we are encouraged to note alignment or divergence in particular cases, but I question the existence of a stable archetype.

It seems to me political wives will respond to their political husbands in varying ways, and that the ways will flow from the actual state of the underlying relationship in all its dimensions. Do we know, for example, that Mrs. Craig wasn't issuing foot-tap signals in the women's restrooms at airports? Do we know that Mrs. Spitzer wasn't frequenting the top-shelf male prostitutes of New York? I don't think we know that.

I am not saying I want to know that.


Domestically Challenged said...

"I have often wondered how Mrs. Bush truly feels about having a retarded husband, but I can only guess in the end."

Oh I needed that laugh! Thanks, Dale! I love that line!

I have no idea how they should act or think. But, I do like the propaganda behind staying by their side in good times and bad. Personally, I would like to see them give a speech cutting their husbands down for the stupidity of their acts but ending it with "I'll stand by his side despite this because I believe in our marriage... or at least the VOWS, and hopefully in the future I will again believe in the marriage."

But that's just me.

Dale said...

It would be interesting -- and delicious in a way -- to see a formerly vaguely-known or not-well-known political wife make herself famous by very publicly savaging her disgraced, cheating husband. It would be understandable, that's certain.

mikesdak said...

I agree that how the wife should react is purely personal and depends on a lot factors we can't and probably wouldn't want to know.

I've never heard Mrs.Bush say anything about her husband, but I recall his father making his feelings fairly clear....remember the crying incident a while back?