There she is again.
That woman of a certain style, graceful hair sweeping around her face with the downcast eyes.
That woman standing in sorrow and pain next to the powerful man who juts out his jaw and spits out an apology and then strides away in angry remorse.
The woman he spurned for the pleasure of someone else, something else, something illicit, illegal, ill.
The powerful man who has just lost everything because he cannot control himself.
The sorrowful woman who stands by her man.
With the news that “Mr. Clean,” New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, apparently hired a prostitute, his wife Silda Spitzer now sits atop that lonely pyramid as the latest political wife fallen victim to a husband’s intoxication with power, perquisites, pleasure.
What are these men thinking?
The women listed above are, respectively, the wives of the New York Governor, a United States Senator, the former Governor of New Jersey, the former Speaker of the House, the former Mayor of New York City, the former President of the United States. Each man engaged in some form of conduct involving sex, or solicitation, with individuals not their wives. Each woman had to endure that same awful moment when she stood by her man in the public eye, television cameras and microphones stuck into the face of one of the most private, humiliating moments any woman must face.
What is wrong with these men?
Some people dislike Hillary Clinton because she didn’t leave her husband after his stunningly selfish, immoral conduct in the White House. Some people are angrier with Hillary for staying with Bill than they were with Bill for playing around. The worst thing that women spurned still face in our society is the manifestly sexist implication that, somehow, it’s their fault — or, somehow, whether they stay or go, they will be making the wrong decision.
What is wrong with men who do this to the women who have loved them?
Far from me to know the answer to that question. But, clearly, given the roster of public leaders who have fallen so far, power can inflict stunning blindness onmen who seem incapable of seeing, let alone understanding, the catastrophe of unrestrained desires.
(Image at the top of this article is “Grief” by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, sculpture that may be viewed in the Rock Creek Cemetary.)