League pal and houseguest, Nicole and I wound up discussing the Elliot Spitzer debacle in the New York governor's offices over the past two nights or so. Like most, neither of us are surprised that a powerful official was spending inordinate amounts of money on hookers (I am trying to imagine a scenario in which someone would pay $4000 for an evening with The League, and, ya'll... I find myself feeling inadequate).
We've also become familiar with the wife of said scandalized officials coming to the pdoium to stand by their man in their hour of shame. To some extent, we're all familiar with the script.
What Nicole pointed out is that these spouses always/ often dress in a sensible Chanel suit. In some cases, virtually identical Chanel suits.
Above: Ex-New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey and wife Dina. Below: Eliot Spitzer and Silda Spitzer
A little weird, no?
Husband looking serious in dark, somber suit? Wife in sensible, cheery looking suit like one might wear to a fund raiser, but not necessarily to work. Plus the pearls, as Nicole mentioned. You must have the pearls. Heck, Hillary Clinton's been wearing them out of habit on and off for years.
How many other grown women do you see wearing pearls? Who aren't visiting church from the old folks' home?
I imagine it's part of the script for the political handlers trying to manage the catastrophe.
Step 1) Must obtain suit. Nothing too flashy, but must exude class and confidence. And money. Money is good. But not too much money.
Step 2) Wife should look reserved, and to remind the press the spouse is a mother, have her add pearls.
Step 3) Get the funeral suit out for the deposed politician. He can look stately and somewhat dignified in deep navy jacket and power tie as he fesses up to a weakness for $4000 hookers, young male interns, what have you...
Honestly, I have no evidence to suggest this, but I kind of suspect most people feel the same about the private lives of elected officials as they do about celebrities. The quarterly outing of some politician for sex/drugs/murder/what-have-you and the circus that follows is usually forgotten in a month or two, and business proceeds as usual. It isn't going to affect your taxes, so... really...
Personally, I sort of assume that powerful people with yes-men surrounding them forget that they're doing something they shouldn't when they take a few liberties with their personal lives.
Far more mysterious to me (and to Nicole, in our discussion) are the wives who stand beside their husbands. I suppose there's political pressure to do so from handlers making suggestions when it seems your world is sort of being sucked into a deep, black well. There can be light at the end of the tunnel. Hillary put up with that business all the time, and, hey, look, that turned out pretty well for her...
After all, at some point, you're hitching yourself to someone else's wagon when you fall in with a politician, etc... You're making that conscious decision to go along for the ride, and enjoy the fruits of what sitting in the Governor's mansion might bring you. So perhaps there's the unenviable task of having to also stand by the guy's side when the moron philanderer gets taken down.
These wives can't be completely oblivious to the stereotypes of the politician running around with other women. I suppose you trust your spouse and all, but...
Sometimes I wonder if the strain is coming from shock or if its coming from the many, many times the wives looked the other way and now its all coming out, and nobody ends up looking great.
At least you'll get a sort of Jackie-O looking dress out of it, perhaps purchased by the party (a small price to pay if things go okay, right?).
Perhaps in coming years as more women enter the political arena there's going to be husbands in pearls and a sensible suit from Chanel standing distraught beside their wives as the wives fess up to their "relationship" with some gigolo. Honestly, I can't wait for that day. On that day I'll know that the sexes have found true, disappointing equality.