Thursday, June 25, 2009

Jenny Sanford the Feminist

When Governor Mark Sanford (R-South Carolina) delivered his mea culpa, his wife Jenny Sanford wasn't paraded out for all to see. She didn't make Sanford's betrayal more forgivable by standing by his side. She didn't want him to let him portray himself as a family man. She left him standing alone with the aides who unwittingly lied to him.

No. She stayed a way from the press conference and shortly after, she issued a press statement, asserting that she threw the governor out of the house. Contrast that with the reaction we typically see when a prominent public official admits to having an affair. We usually see both, the offending public official and the victimized spouse standing next to each other, giving everyone who is watching the false impression that everything will be all right. The offending public official renewed apologized to his or her spouse and the two have renewed their vows to each other.

Dana Matos McGreevey and Suzanne Thompson stodd by their men (former Governor James McGreevey and former Senator Larry Craig) after they were caught cheating on them with another man. Governor James McGreevey was involved in an intimate relationship with an Israeli national whom he subsequently appointed to head Homeland Security. His nomination fell through. Senator Larry Craig plead guilty to lesser charges after an undercover police officer charged him for soliciting sexual favors in a public airport men's bathroom. Wendy Baldwin Vitter and Silda Alice Wall Spitzer stood by their husbands (Senator David Vitter and NY Governor Eliot Spitzer) after they publicly admitted that they paid for sex.

Though she did not stand by her husband's side, Secretary of State (then First Lady) Clinton said she forgave then President Bill Clinton and vociferously defended her husband from the Republicans and Ken Starr. The first Lady who undeservedly was criticized for saying she didn't want to just "bake cookies" could not bring herself to walk away from their relationship.

One would have hoped that a wife would not stand by her cheating husband when his philandering is made public. That such a wife, having been humiliated through now fault of her own, would not participate in this facade that all is well, that the husband has retunred and still believes in family values.

Mrs. Jenny Sanford, however, had none of it. She would not provide her husband with whatever political cover he might have sought. She wouldn't behave like the obedient housewife who submits to her husband. She let those who watched the press conference know that a wife need not stand by the one who breaks his vows, and reminded her husband that he too, had to live up to her responsibilities, and that one who does not forfeits the right to expect such loyalty from the offended party.

one could hope that she is starting a trend.

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