Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Jenny Sanford: Setting the Example for Cheating Politicians' Wives

Jenny Sanford (MSNBC)
How many times have you turned on the TV to watch a press conference or seen a clip on the evening news about a cheating politician and see his wife standing by his side as he admits to the entire country his inability to maintain self-control? I always think to myself, "What is she doing with him? He publicly humiliated her and their entire family, and she's still going to stand by him like that?" Not Jenny Sanford. When the revelations of what Mark Sanford meant by "hiking the Appalachian Trail" became public, she started the process of officially leaving the governor (their relationship had been hanging by a thread when he disappeared off to Argentina.) Within a month she had moved out of the governor's mansion and had taken the kids.

Eliot Spitzer and his wife, Silda (
When Mark Sanford held court like a Greek philosopher expounding on the virtues of love at his press conference admitting he was having an affair with an Argentinian mistress, Jenny was not there. She put out her own press release after her husband's embarrassing tell-all, in which she minced no words when it came to her and her husband's relationship: "I therefore asked my husband to leave two weeks ago." She goes on to say that Sanford can earn her trust and respect back, but it won't be anytime soon. Jenny Sanford had the stones to do what Mark Sanford could (and still will) not: stand up and do what's best for herself and her family.

David Vitter and wife Wendy (
Some wives stand by their husbands despite their husband's ultimate sign of disrespect and public humiliation (Silda Spitzer and Wendy Vitter both stood by their hooker-visiting husbands [with Wendy saying she was proud to be the Louisiana sentor's husband]). Other wives may not be at the press conference, but are still with their men (Hilary Clinton stayed with Bill, Darlene Ensign has stayed with her unfaithful husband and previous 2012 Republican hopeful John Ensign.) But Jenny Sanford seems to be a rare breed (the only other wife of a politician caught cheating who I can think of that left him is Mary Pat Fosella who left Staten Island/Brooklyn Rep. Vito Fosella following the revelation that he had not only a mistress, but a kid on the side).

So why do Jenny Sanford's actions stick out so much? Why do other politicians' wives [seemingly] put up with their husbands' immature and unfaithful ways? Is it the allure of being a powerful man's better half? Is it to keep appearances? Are they so blinded by love that they don't see their husbands for who they really are? While we may not know the answer to those questions, Jenny Sanford makes it clear why she left her husband: her kids come first. Even more impressively, she has forgiven Sanford, but she's not running back into his arms. "I have put my heart and soul into being a good mother and wife. Now I think it's up to my husband to do the soul-searching to see if he wants to stay married. The ball is in his court." I think Jenny Sanford's already won the game.

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