FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Desperate House (and Senate) Wives

by DAVID MACARAY

Whether the husband is a Democrat or Republican, it doesn’t really matter. I’ve always felt sympathy for the loyal wife of the politician who disgraces himself by getting caught consorting with prostitutes, or circulating photographs of his private parts, or fornicating with interns. No matter what the sexual mischief, it’s always the wife—the innocent, beleaguered, unindicted party—who’s called upon to clean up the mess.

We all know how it works. As soon as the media gets wind of the scandal, the elected official immediately shifts into damage-control mode. This involves, initially, pleading total ignorance, then denying it outright, then back-pedaling, then admitting to it, then, finally, dragging his wife (dressed conservatively, smiling bravely, shoulders back, chin up) in front of the cameras and microphones, reducing her to a political ornament.

While most of us can appreciate a spontaneous affirmation of connubial allegiance, this spectacle of a wife being opportunistically paraded before the public is degrading. Take Anthony Weiner for example. In a moment of libidinous hilarity, he jeopardizes his political career by taking photographs of his penis and mailing them to various women. But it’s his innocent, self-respecting wife who gets dragged into the fray and is asked to lead the public relations offensive.

In 2001, I saw Congressman Gary Condit’s wife, Carolyn, stand bravely by her husband’s side as he vehemently denied having had an affair or anything to do with the disappearance and subsequent murder of his intern, Chandra Levy. Although Condit was eventually cleared as a murder suspect, the investigation revealed that he had, in fact, been romantically involved with Levy. Condit was in his early fifties, Levy in her early twenties.

It was a shattering blow to Carolyn Condit. It’s one thing to find out your husband is cheating on you; it’s a whole other deal to find out publicly, with the glare of lights and cameras in your face. Despite the infidelity, Carolyn reckoned their marriage was worth saving and chose to stay with him. Needless to say, the scandal ruined Condit’s political career. Last we heard, he was the owner/operator of an Arizona ice cream parlor.

I felt a similar twinge of compassion when I saw Lee Hart, wife of Senator Gary Hart, cringing at her husband’s side at a hastily arranged press conference where Hart feebly attempted to explain his relationship with Donna Rice, an affair that ultimately resulted in his withdrawal from the 1988 presidential primary. Because he couldn’t keep it in his pants, his loyal wife was pressured into publicly humiliating herself. (Fun fact: Hart was a former divinity student).

Which brings us back to Weiner. I’ve heard some of his defenders argue that what he did wasn’t “wrong.” It was tacky, adolescent, dumb and reckless, but not “wrong.” Given the era in which we live, pornography, phone sex, sexting, and sexually explicit flirting are basically harmless pastimes. Accordingly, the suggestion that he drop out of the NYC mayoral race is patently absurd (as of this writing, he’s still a candidate).

But what of Huma, Weiner’s wife? She may agree that the photos, by themselves, aren’t sufficient grounds for dropping out of the race, but it’s a fair bet she thinks what he did was “wrong”….wrong in every sense of the word. And despite Weiner’s libertine defenders, there’s someone else out there who thought it was wrong: Anthony Weiner himself.

If he didn’t think it was wrong, he wouldn’t have gone to such great lengths to conceal it, nor would he have lied repeatedly when first accused. But it isn’t Anthony Weiner’s face I’ll remember as the couple faced the glare of the cameras. It’s Huma’s face. Bravely smiling, chin up, shoulders back, terribly uncomfortable. Reduced to a political ornament.

David Macaray, an LA playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy: Essays on Modern Labor”), was a former union rep.

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is “Nightshift: 270 Factory Stories.” He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 24, 2016
John Pilger
Provoking Nuclear War by Media
Jonathan Cook
The Birth of Agro-Resistance in Palestine
Eric Draitser
Ajamu Baraka, “Uncle Tom,” and the Pathology of White Liberal Racism
Jack Rasmus
Greek Debt and the New Financial Imperialism
Kent Paterson
Saving Southern New Mexico from the Next Big Flood
Robert Fisk
The Sultan’s Hit List Grows, as Turkey Prepares to Enter Syria
Abubakar N. Kasim
What Did the Olympics Really Do for Humanity?
Alycee Lane
The Trump Campaign: a White Revolt Against ‘Neoliberal Multiculturalism’
Edward Hunt
Maintaining U.S. Dominance in the Pacific
Eoin Higgins
Did OJ Simpson Suffer Brain Trauma from Football?
George Wuerthner
The Big Fish Kill on the Yellowstone
Renee Parsons
Obamacare Supporters Oppose ColoradoCare
Jesse Jackson
Democrats Shouldn’t Get a Blank Check From Black Voters
Arnold August
RIP Jean-Guy Allard: A Model for Progressive Journalists Working in the Capitalist System
August 23, 2016
Diana Johnstone
Hillary and the Glass Ceilings Illusion
Bill Quigley
Race and Class Gap Widening: Katrina Pain Index 2016 by the Numbers
Ted Rall
Trump vs. Clinton: It’s All About the Debates
Eoin Higgins
Will Progressive Democrats Ever Support a Third Party Candidate?
Kenneth J. Saltman
Wall Street’s Latest Public Sector Rip-Off: Five Myths About Pay for Success
Binoy Kampmark
Labouring Hours: Sweden’s Six-Hour Working Day
John Feffer
The Globalization of Trump
Gwendolyn Mink – Felicia Kornbluh
Time to End “Welfare as We Know It”
Medea Benjamin
Congress Must Take Action to Block Weapon Sales to Saudi Arabia
Halyna Mokrushyna
Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine
Manuel E. Yepe
Tourism and Religion Go Hand-in-Hand in the Caribbean
ED ADELMAN
Belted by Trump
Thomas Knapp
War: The Islamic State and Western Politicians Against the Rest of Us
Nauman Sadiq
Shifting Alliances: Turkey, Russia and the Kurds
Rivera Sun
Active Peace: Restoring Relationships While Making Change
August 22, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton: The Anti-Woman ‘Feminist’
Robert Hunziker
Arctic Death Rattle
Norman Solomon
Clinton’s Transition Team: a Corporate Presidency Foretold
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Hubris: Only Tell the Rich for $5000 a Minute!
Russell Mokhiber
Save the Patients, Cut Off the Dick!
Steven M. Druker
The Deceptions of the GE Food Venture
Elliot Sperber
Clean, Green, Class War: Bill McKibben’s Shortsighted ‘War on Climate Change’
Binoy Kampmark
Claims of Exoneration: The Case of Slobodan Milošević
Walter Brasch
The Contradictions of Donald Trump
Michael Donnelly
Body Shaming Trump: Statue of Limitations
Weekend Edition
August 19, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Hillary and the War Party
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Prime Time Green
Andrew Levine
Hillary Goes With the Flow
Dave Lindorff
New York Times Shames Itself by Attacking Wikileaks’ Assange
Gary Leupp
Could a Russian-Led Coalition Defeat Hillary’s War Plans?
Conn Hallinan
Dangerous Seas: China and the USA
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail