Friday, March 14, 2008

Eugene Robinson Says It For Me

From the Washington Post:

...But what was she thinking?

Why did Silda Wall Spitzer literally stand by her man, not once but twice? What compelled or inspired her to accompany Spitzer on Monday as he responded to the breaking story with a terse apology, and then again on Wednesday, when he announced his resignation?

CNN's resident curmudgeon, Jack Cafferty, put the question best: "The other thing I don't understand about this story is how these guys always get their wives to go stand on the podium with them when they cop to this stuff. I remember during the Monica Lewinsky thing, some member of Congress -- I don't remember who it was -- said, you know, if that was my wife, she'd be standing over my bleeding body in the kitchen saying, 'How do you reload this thing?'"


Exactly. I have spoken in the comments at various blogs about the wives who literally stand up in the spotlight at the podium with their wayward husbands, apparently giving their full support to their waywardness just so the men express proper remorse. Whatever comes afterwards in the marriages is a whole different question to be worked out by the couple in private, but I can tell you that I would not be in the lights beside my man sharing the public shame with him. You did it; you go face them. I'm shamed enough by your actions, but I will not share that public moment of shame with you.

Robinson lists the names of other wives who have shared the shameful moment with their husbands:

Wendy Vitter, wife of Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana
Carlita Kilpatrick, wife of Kwame Kilpatrick, mayor of Detroit
Suzanne Craig, wife of Sen. Larry Craig of Ohio
Dina McGreevy, wife of Gov. James McGreevy of New Jersey

Robinson ends his column with these words:

No one deserves the kind of public humiliation that Silda Wall Spitzer had to endure. The governor says he wants to regain his family's trust and respect. He should have begun that process by facing the cameras alone.

My emphasis.

25 comments:

Lapinbizarre said...

Spitzer & McGreevey both went quickly; long after the event, Craig & Viter are still with us. Is it only governors who are expected to resign when caught with their pants down, or only Democrats?

David said...

Agree. My wife commented that if she were Mrs. Spitzer, she'd be too busy talking to high-priced divorce attorneys to attend his public humiliation party.

Kinda makes you wonder what sort of self-respect these women have...

Grandmère Mimi said...

Is it only governors who are expected to resign when caught with their pants down, or only Democrats?

More like only Democrats, I believe. The Republicans don't seem to be quite as insistent in their demands that their fellows resign when they fall from grace.

But then, William Jefferson is still serving in the House - you know, the guy with $90,000 in the freezer. Innocent until proven guilty? And, for him, it wasn't about sex. As for me, I want him gone along with Vitter as representing my state.

Perhaps it is the Congress who tolerates the miscreants more.

And let's not forget Bill Clinton. Perhaps my statement above is not quite right. I wanted him gone, too, but when the House started the impeachment hearings, I found myself in sympathy with Clinton. I wanted him to go on his own, not to be impeached. The impeachment hearings turned out to be exactly about what Rep. Barney Frank said they would be about, "Who touched what, when?"

Grandmère Mimi said...

David, the expression on Silda Spitzer's face was nearly unbearable to see. No way, no way, no way I would do that.

BooCat said...

I do believe that my mother loved my father so much that she would have walked into the very jaws of hell for him and with him, and that is what these women, in fact, have done.
On the other hand, my father so worshiped her that he would never have been capable of straying over the line as these men have done. One of the greatest motivating factors of his life seemed to be to live up to her image of him. That continued throughout his life, for thirty-six years after her death. It reminded me of the Song of Solomon quote: "for love is strong as death."

Grandmère Mimi said...

Boocat, that is a lovely story about your parents. Mutual love and respect is indeed a beautiful thing. What's missing in these situations is the mutuality.

I believe that if Grandpère strayed, he would not ask me to do such a thing. He'd know better. But then, I don't believe he'd stray - at least not at this late date. ;o) OCICBW.

susankay said...

Well, my mother would have stuck by my father if he had strayed but not if he'd become a politician.

And we must remember that Mrs. McGreevey said she had done it for their kids.

Jim said...

I have little respect for anyone who pays for sex, less for married people who do, and absolutely none for someone who will try to use a spouse that way. The initial event was bad enough, but putting that lady onto the stage was inexcusable.

FWIW
jimB

Jane R said...

I couldn't bear to look at her. And I don't think it was good for the children. They just added several years to their therapy with that one. May God have mercy on them, and may Mrs. Spitzer and her family find healing.

Jim said...

If these guys respected their wives, they would not allow them to be exposed to such humiliation, much less encourage it.
Of course, they don't respect women, as evidenced by their behavior.

Kate Morningstar said...

Lady Nancy Astor once said, when her husband was unexpectedly late home, she always imagined he was either having an affaire, or lying dead in a ditch somewhere. And for his sake, she hoped he was dead in a ditch somewhere.

Mrs. McGreevey is the one of these I find it hardest to understand. She did it FOR THEIR CHILDREN? Wouldn't staying home and explaining to the children that some behaviour is unacceptable, and that when we hurt other people it's our right and responsibility to deal with that ourselves, have been better for the children?

Grandmère Mimi said...

SusanKay, I don't for a minute buy that Mrs. McGreevy's demeaning herself was good for the kids. I think it's precisely the wrong lesson.

Jim, I could not agree more with all you say. It's all sleaze, but dragging the spouse out to face the press is despicable.

Jane, yes. We must pray for all of them. Lord, have mercy.

Kate, what I've already said. Lady Astor had a point.

Grandpère is not one to go for a drink after work. Once, and only once, many years ago, he was at work until 11:00 PM, and his co-worker invited him to have a drink after work. When he was not home at midnight, I pictured him lying murdered on the campus of the university where he worked, and I called the campus police. Yes, I did. They searched around and found no body, and they let me know that and gently asked if perhaps he had gone for a drink after work. I told them that he never did that. Soon after, in walked GP, and he was horrified when I told what I had done.

He paid the price when he went to work the next day, because the news was all over the campus that I had sent the police after him, and he was teased unmercifully.

What did I do wrong? He never went for a drink after work, and I was worried about him, because someone had recently been assaulted at night at the university. He never lived that one down.

susankay said...

Mimi -- I didn't say that I thought it was good for the kids but that Mrs. McGreevey had explained it that way. Both these women were in shock and likely not able to think through very much at all. A plea by the bastard involved to "think of the kids" would probably work in such a situation.

johnieb said...

"How do ya re-load this thing?"

Congress is good for something after all, if only to pass on such stories. Now, if we could just keep 'em out of the public's bidness.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Mimi -- I didn't say that I thought it was good for the kids but that Mrs. McGreevey had explained it that way. Both these women were in shock and likely not able to think through very much at all.

SusanKay, I didn't say you did. I was commenting on the situation. In my shock, I'd say feck off, if I was asked to do that.

keep 'em out of the public's bidness.

That's right, Johnieb.

pj said...

I don't really understand anyone's behavior in these situations. But then, I'll never understand politicians or "politician's wives," either. They seem to be a breed apart.

Kate Morningstar said...

Mimi, it occurred to me this morning ...

If Silda, or another one of the wives, simply told the politician/husband to feck off and face your own music your own self, or was in jail for trying to kill him, or something -- then a good speechwriter would get him to say,

"And my lovely wife, who I've hurt so badly, wanted to be here with me today, to support me while I talked to you. I just wouldn't let her. I've put her through enough embarrassment and hurt; I won't add more."

Then, he'd get to look good. Weasels are weasels, and they'll act like weasels no matter what the situation is or calls for.

Grandmère Mimi said...

They seem to be a breed apart.

PJ, indeed!

Weasels are weasels, and they'll act like weasels no matter what the situation is or calls for.

Kate, good thinking.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Oh, dear, well, I guess you'd have to know the McGreevy story. Dina knew before she married Jim that he was gay. Like lots of women who knowingly marry gay men, she thought she could change him. Right. That says more about her sense of power than anything else.

Dina has certainly made up for her initial 'shock'. She doesn't miss an opportunity to drag out her hurt and pain and humiliation in front of any news reporter or TV camera that will have her. I understand. She's trying to inflict the same thing on him as she feels was done to her. I fear the only person she's really hurting is herself - and her child. Pity. Really

I am in no way defending Jim McGreevy. He is working out his own atonement with as much dignity as he can muster, given the humiliation which was self-inflicted but also shared. Dina was complicit in helping to keep his 'open secret'

I guess I'm just sensitive to this because I know how I continue to be vilified by my former husband and his family 33 years after 'coming out'.

As for Mrs. Spitzer, well, tell me she didn't know that he had been using the 'services' of a prostitute for 10 years. A woman knows these things about their husbands. So do men about the infidelity of their wives. She stood by her husband because she was complicit in keeping the secret from which she also benefited.

The shock, the humiliation was more about the very, very public nature of his exposure and the loss of status it cost her than "the secret" of her husband's other life. The news reports in NYC were very clear to say that she fought the hardest for him to not resign. Right.

I'm not excusing Eliot. I'm saying that there are no innocent bystanders.

That may be hard for some to hear and I don't mean to hurt anyone who has been in a similar situation. I'm just saying that these stores are far more complicated that what you see in clips and hear in sound bytes on the evening news.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Elizabeth, I don't see what Dina gains for herself and her child by keeping herself in the public eye and repeating the story to the press. That is wrong.

I'm trying to put myself in your place, Elizabeth, and I can't. I'm sorry that the vilification by your ex continues for you. I can't really put myself in the place of any of the women, either, and I know that each case is different.

What I simply cannot understand is going out in front of the lights and cameras with "my man" after he had been unfaithful. I could not and would not do it. Perhaps, I could forgive my husband; perhaps, I could even stay married to him, but if he was a public figure who had cheated on me, he's be out in front of the lights and cameras alone. That much I know.

Robinson and I are addressing only the single issue here, not accusing or excusing, just saying we don't understand the women subjecting themselves to this particular act of public humiliation.

Nina said...

She might not have known.
She might have trusted him.
What makes me angriest is that these men use their wives' loyalty and trust against them: they use what is best in their partners to support their bad behavior.

Know what I'd love to see one of the wives do? Come in with him, wait till he's about two sentences into the canned apology and then shoulder him aside, look at my watch, and say into the mike, "Sorry, got to go get tested for HIV now--you're on your own, buster." Then walk off. They'd never stop playing THAT clip on Youtube.

Nina said...

Sorry, look at her watch. I was doing an "if I were she" thing, and then didn't quite complete the edit.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Nina! HIV and other STDs. That would be playing on YouTube forever.

I try to put myself in place of those women, and I cannot. And I could never have been a political wife, either. I'd misbehave far too much.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

The front page of today's Star Ledger (NJ's Newspaper) ran the story of the McGreevey's driver who said he had had a threesome with the 'happy couple'. Said he was disgusted over her playing 'the victim' (Her book is "Silent Partner" which claims that she never knew about his homosexuality before she married and that she was duped. Oye!

I think your question about why women "stand by their man" is one for which I have no answer. I only have this question: Why aren't more women lesbians?

Okay, that was a joke. Well, maybe not completely. I mean, it does make you wonder why so many women put up with such frat boy behavior.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Why aren't more women lesbians?

Okay, that was a joke. Well, maybe not completely.


Elizabeth, it's a good question. A relative and I were having a discussion about gays and lesbians, and he said he cannot understand the men, but he could the women, because women are far more empathetic, and he could see a woman wanting another woman, but not a man wanting another man.

I took him back to the adolescent stirrings of sexuality and the stirrings being about the same sex rather than the opposite sex. It's not really a very good argument, but it does seem to get folks to think a bit, and it even works to shed light sometimes. I do the best I can.