Photo of Jenny Sanford by Heidi Heilbrunn of the Greenville News.
I had other obligations on Wednesday night and missed Jenny Sanford's TV-interview with Barbara Walters. But several of the local news outlets covered it, as well as national blogs like The Huffington Post:
CHARLESTON, S.C. — Even if her straying husband had asked her to, South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford says she wouldn't have stood with Gov. Mark Sanford when he faced cameras to tell the world about his affair with an Argentine woman.But the best part? She said she wouldn't stand there like a prop.
Jenny Sanford told ABC's Barbara Walters for a special airing Wednesday her husband's actions have caused consequences but not robbed her of her self esteem. Excerpts of the interview were released Tuesday.
As she has said in earlier interviews, Sanford told Walters she found out about her husband's affair last January and forbid him to see the other woman. She said she told him not to see his four boys or her for a month last summer as well.
"My hope was that he would wake up from whatever he was in the throes of and maybe see what he might lose," she said.
"Certainly his actions hurt me, and they caused consequences for me, but they don't in any way take away my own self-esteem," she said. "They reflect poorly on him."
This quiet dignity is why Jenny is loved by the women of South Carolina and the USA:
But Jenny Sanford was not beside him and she told Walters that the governor never asked her to appear.YES!
"I wouldn't have. If he had asked me, I would have said no," she said.
It is my fervent hope that Jenny's patent refusal to physically stand beside her husband like an obedient little Stepford Wife, will catch on. NO MORE USING POLITICIAN'S WIVES AS PROPS!
I am more than a little thrilled that it is a southern woman who has finally put the kibosh on this terrible tradition. I have always thought it was an added, horrific humiliation to make wives stand there mutely while sleazemeisters like James McGreevey, Larry Craig, Elliot Spitzer, et. al. make their various confessions. Their wives were used as moral set-decoration: Looky here, I have a WIFE, I am not a sex pervert!*
This is an ethical variation of woman-as-ornament, woman-as-arm-candy: Woman as TAMER of men's collectively untamed, wild, crazy libidos. It is offensive as hell and always has been. Bravo to Jenny for NOT PLAYING ALONG!!!!
And today, we get the news that she has filed for divorce. If she has a publicist, I say, give that girl a raise! Great timing, right after a well-received national interview.
The Greenville News reports:
COLUMBIA – Gov. Mark Sanford said this morning that he takes “full responsibility for the moral failure” that led his wife, Jenny, today to file for divorce.And meanwhile, although the SC House censured Sanford, and the impeachment resolution may go to the full house floor--it appears totally stalled for now, and Mark Sanford has no intention of leaving office any earlier than required.
“While it is not the course I would have hoped for, or would choose, I want to take full responsibility for the moral failure that led us to this tragic point,” Sanford said in a brief statement. “While our family structure may change, I know that we will both work earnestly to be the best mom and dad we can be to four of the finest boys on earth.”
The complaint filed this morning by First Lady Jenny Sanford in Charleston County Family Court is brief and accuses the governor of having sex with another woman but provides no other details or discusses divorce issues other than to note agreements are expected to be filed in the matter sometime in the future.
Jenny Sanford announced this morning she was filing for divorce “after many unsuccessful efforts at reconciliation.”
Stay tuned, sports fans!
*Technically, I think the first person to successfully employ this strategy was Richard Nixon during the Checkers speech. Pat Nixon sat there like a mannequin (barely breathing or blinking, it seemed) as Nixon told the country she didn't own a mink, but instead, "a respectable Republican cloth coat" ... using his wife's humble nature as somehow proof of HIS humble nature, which as we all know, was nonexistent.
Thus, the first modern example of wife-as-moral-prop was not a sexual scandal, but it was a scandal. Richard Nixon never referred to "Pat" publicly (in contrast to other presidents who called their wives by their first names in speeches), but always publicly referred to her as "Mrs Nixon"... which I found strange even as a kid. "Mrs Nixon likes... Mrs Nixon says..." as if she really had no other identity besides his misses.