Stand By Your Man

Melissa Stagnaro

Tammy Wynette may have written those words, but political wives have been living them for as long as I can remember.

In the real world, if a husband got too friendly with an intern, frequented high price call girls or flaunted their infidelity, we’d advise their wives to kick that lying, cheating spouse to the curb. (And vice versa, of course.)

But on the political stage, wives are more inclined to take Tammy’s advice. They put a brave face on for the camera, stand next to the worthless piece of political scum and express their support for their philandering partner as they “work through this difficult time.”

Frankly, it’s always made me a bit sick. That’s why Jenny Sanford is my new personal hero.

Bucking the grin-and-bear-it trend (adhered to be the likes of Hillary Clinton, Silda Spitzer and Elizabeth Edwards), Jenny isn’t standing by her man. In fact, she’s kicked his sorry derriere out. She doesn’t care about his career, she said, just her children and their character. She’s not just going to survive without him, she told the press. She’s going to “thrive.”

Witnessing Hillary, Silda and Elizabeth weather the media storm at their husband’s side, I felt sympathy and a little pity. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for any of them to endure the public scrutiny and humiliation associated with their husband’s actions. But at the end of the day, I always worried about what kind of example it sets when they basically publicly condoned their husband’s behavior. To me, their support sent a message that politics was more important than morals, ethics or their family.

My heart goes out to Jenny Sanford. I can’t imagine how mortifying it must have been for her and her family to not just learn of her husband’s infidelity, but to have his dirty laundry aired before the world. And those emails!

By drawing the line, Jenny earned my respect, not my pity. I admire her spirit, the strength of her convictions and her priorities.

In fact, the only thing I can fault about the hopefully soon-to-be former Mrs. Sanford at the moment, is her taste in men.