There's been a fair amount of ink spilled about wives like Silda Spitzer standing up by their husbands at the sort of press conferences that ex-Gov. Spitzer had to hold this week. Many people hate it, thinking that the wives are demeaning themselves. (Certainly that's long been an undercurrent of resentment in some quarters towards Hillary Clinton.) Of course, there are always the outliers like that demented freak "Dr." Laura Schlessinger, who apparently thinks that Elliot would never have developed a taste for the strange if he had gotten a few more spontaneous blow jobs at home, or something. Feh.
Here's the think — the dutiful and forgiving wife standing beside her man at the press conference creeps me out. It creeps me out because it strikes me as subservient and as an unnecessary humiliation for the wife, and because I wonder whether she is getting good advice from someone who is only in her corner. But I don't judge the wife for it. I believe in the power of forgiveness, and have found forgiveness of people who have hurt me to be unexpectedly liberating. And who knows how it feels in that tumultuous situation? It's all fairly well to say that you'd never put up with that shit for a second and would walk out the door after having given the spouse a kick in the ass, but you're not the one who has just gotten a very public ton of bricks dropped on you and your 20-year marriage and three kids.
So I don't judge the wives, even if their standing their creeps me out. However, I sure as Hell judge the husbands for asking them to stand there. Look: these guys could email in their fucking resignations. They could send it by courier. They could send their chief of staff to announce it. Or they could, to use a deliberately sexist phrase, man the fuck up and walk onto the stage without hiding partway behind their wives. Asking your wife to stand up there with you means that you are trying to salvage as much as your dignity, your position, your shriveled political capital, and your place in history as you can — and at the expense of her further humiliation. The intended message is "she stands beside me despite my wrongs — so why can't you?" That's manipulative, and it's whoring her out. Asking her to stand next to you means that you may be sorry for humiliating her — but not sorry enough to stop humiliating her if you can get a little political juice or salve your ego by asking more of her.
Love is grace, and through grace people who love us will sacrifice for us and give us things we do not, by any objective measure, deserve. That doesn't mean that it's decent to ask them to do so.
Last 5 posts by Ken White
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