Another holier-than-thou “family values” politician has made a tearful public confession of infidelity. And as usual, his wife says she will forgive him if he properly repents. This familiar scenario has been played out so many times that we could all direct it. Cue the husband’s tears and apologies to his family, his state, his staff. Cue the somber wife by his side. No tears for her. Cue a long shot of the family in former times, all the children cute and smiling at their dad. Then the interviews with old friends and political allies, all of them male, who say they were shocked — shocked! — to learn their good moral friend has strayed from his high moral values. They hope his wife and his constituents can all put it behind them and move forward.
Just once, I’d like to see the stoic wife suddenly turn into a wolverine on camera. I’d like to see her sucker-punch the philandering husband. I’d like to hear her tell him what a dirt-bag he is for exposing their children to the humiliation of making their family fodder for talk shows and jokes for comedians. Elizabeth Edwards has been criticized for writing about how hurtful her husband’s affair was, as if she broke some rule about how wives are supposed to behave. The fact that she’s chosen to stay with him must mean there’s more to the relationship than the public has any right to know. The fact that she hasn’t played long-suffering victim means she’s not a long-suffering victim. Good for her.