An Evil Ritual
I am normally a fan of meaningless ritual and tradition. I like the way that it creates continuity within a community, serves to set off certain times and spaces as special, and if done correctly provides the pleasures of a spectacle. Spitzer’s implosion, however, makes even my inner-Burke recoil at the wanton cruelty of the wronged-wife-at-the-press-conference ceremony. Conventional wisdom among the spin-oriate insists that when a politician is caught with his pants down or otherwise stepping out on his wife, it is all important that he hold the press conference at which he expresses regret for the pain he has caused his family, talks about his regret for his private failings, and makes similarly contrite noises. It is absolutely vital, say the PR flaks, that the wronged wife stand dutifully behind her man for the cameras.
Why in the name of all that is holy do we have this horrific spectacle? When Sptizer required his wife to go through this exquisitely humiliating ritual, he was already a political dead man walking. Was her obligatory stand-by-her-man appearance supposed to revive his political fortunes? Were his political fortunes worth inflicting such an experience on his wife? I realize that for most chivalry is passe at best and misogynist at worse, but is it too much to hope that a man might at least have some decency toward his wife. Talking about this with the Obamican to whom I am wedded over breakfast, she pointed out that Michelle Obama does not stand by her man. She introduces him and then leaves the stage. I pray that she sticks to her guns, and that if Obama is caught with an intern, Congressional page, airport-haunting under-cover cop, or high-priced hooker, she responds to his request for The Press Conference, with, “You selfish bastard, go have your own damn press conference.”
Call it the audacity of hope.
[Photo credit: NJ.com/AP]