So, seeing as I have The New York Times as my homepage just so I can feel like I’m up on what the liberal elite qualify as newsworthy, I had occasion to see that New York’s governor has apparently gotten himself into a bit of a situation regarding himself and a network of women who are given money in exchange for carnal satisfaction. As is customary with my homepage perusal, I looked at the headline, the picture and the first few sentences which the Times hope will entice me into clicking the link and reading further into a story that doesn’t put any money in my pocket whatsoever.
Now, I wish I could tell you that I read further and was dazzled by this yarn of deceits and betrayal, power and sex. But I didn’t click the link because, as I said, I have the page up mainly so I can stay somewhat informedish and have some semblance of an idea of what’s going on when one of the wonks, literati or talented tenthers in my life engage me in some discussion or another. Most of the time I’m still not nearly as informed as they–mainly because I care much less than they do–but I digress. I didn’t read the story and as of right now have no opinion on the facts other than the one I quickly formed–namely, “You dummy”–upon seeing the headline and picture splashed in the middle of the page (Sidebar 1: That’s partially why I like having an informative homepage. You just click on your browse and it can tell you almost anything. Sometimes you get Randy Moss to the Patriots; other times you get the Bhutto assassination. It’s a crapshoot, but what can I say, I shoot crap. Or something.)
Nope. I won’t be writing about Spitzer’s situation because I’d be someone not knowing what the hell I was talking about. The reason I’m tickling the keys right now is the picture the Times used. It’s the standard politician “I fucked up” press conference photo–Navy blue background, the American and state flag on poles off to the left, the mahogany podium and a man who is at the very least–or possibly most–really upset that he got caught with his pants down. But there’s one more piece to this press conference puzzle. The wife; the woman standing by as her husband humiliates himself and dishonors her.
Though what I’m about to say is not terribly earth-shattering, it still struck me in a particular way today for some reason. There he is explaining his indiscretions and there she was, by his side, with that pained and shamed look on her face and the only thing I could think was: Why does she need to be there for this?
Let’s for a second take an extremely reductionist approach to marriage, particularly the vows. Each is supposed to honor and obey, love and protect. I think we can say that that is basically out in the Spitzer house. Now the other side essentially says stand by your spouse no matter what. Obviously this isn’t at issue since she was standing there. My issue is this: Why does she have to be there for him in public during a moment that directly affects her relationship with this person? Since he only kind of honored his vows, wouldn’t it stand to reason that she should only kind of have to honor hers with regard to the through thick and thin statute?
This isn’t just a real estate scandal that makes the public question the ethics of her husband; this is a situation which flies in the face of everything that their relationship is based on. Now, I don’t believe for a second that the wives of politicians have any illusions about who their husbands are. It’s reasonable enough to believe that she knew about this situation well in advance of the public. Whatever your opinion, people make compromises and trades for whatever reason and it would be smug to stand in judgment, especially since your judgment is essentially immaterial. The Spitzers are a married couple and they came to whatever understanding or agreement that they felt necessary. Still, no matter the circumstance, no one likes to be embarrassed in this fashion, publicly or privately.
My question isn’t why these women stay with these men–every situation is complicated and particular in its own way–my question is why they need to be at these press conferences. Is it to reinforce the importance of standing by your spouse, even in the face of situations that are not a ringing endorsement for marriage in the first place? If you are willing to work through your struggles as a team–and in my humble opinion the most important component to marriage is thinking of yourselves as a team–why do I need to see the work? I mean, why are we keeping up appearances at the point when the husband is ADMITTING that he fucked up and stepped out on his wife? Sure, as a politician, you and and yours are public figures, but do we need to do the woman a further indignity–no matter her degree of complicity– by parading her out there while dude basically says, “Honey, the world. The world, this is my honey. Now where were we? Oh, right. I was telling the whole world I put my dick in other people and you were busy standing and being humiliated.”
I just don’t get why she needs to be there for that. After doing her so dirt, why not just say, “I’m doing this press conference by myself?” The press conference does only one thing for certain and that’s embarrass everyone that knows you and hurts the people you care about most. Is it uncouth to take this kind of lump by yourself? Who’s to say she isn’t sincerely supporting him from the privacy of their home. What does her standing there NOT getting to say how she feels or what she thinks prove? The injury has been done, I see no need for the insult.
Times are different for the wives of politicians and public figures. It used to be that certain indignities were suffered in relative privacy. Yes, people knew about the indiscretions of these men but knew well enough to let that be a matter between the spouses because at day’s end, it was a spousal matter that didn’t affect the populous one iota. Until the iota began to multiply inexplicably because we as a culture don’t have anything better to do than be obsessed with the lives of people who actually do shit. Don’t believe me? I like to think I’m a fairly intelligent person who is in touch with the world around him and I could probably finish the crossword puzzle in the back of more than a few gossip magazines before I could tell you the name of th guy who replaced Kofi Annan (though I do listen to NPR in an attempt to balance this out).
In a picture already full of shame, I guess I just feel like that puzzle could stand to lose a piece. Peace to Coretta and Jackie.
Penultimate Thought: Jill Scott has a filthy mouth.
Final Thought: Baby wipes: Mouth wash for your butt.