South Carolina's First Lady's book is out today! If the weather was better, we'd probably have LINES snaking around the bookstores.
Everyone agrees that it promises to be loads of fun!
Excerpt from one early review from the Los Angeles Times:
"Staying True," [is] Jenny Sanford's memoir of a marriage that only can be described as the Contract With America meets Southern gothic.This is the Southern Lady personified; continuously behaving herself, greeting guests and praying to Jesus, all while the husband is carousing. And yeah, the acute martyrdom brought on by Advanced Southern Lady syndrome can be stultifyingly horrible... and smothering. For a man like Sanford, there is no escape, except to really escape, like to Argentina.
Sanford's husband, Mark -- the governor of South Carolina -- was once a rising star in the national Republican firmament. Then, last June, he disappeared from office for nearly a week, ostensibly to go "hiking on the Appalachian Trail." As it turned out, he was in South America for a tryst with his Argentine mistress.
After that, things went from bad to worse, personally and politically. Gov. Sanford's long, incoherently confessional television interviews didn't do much to help matters, and this book, for all its more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger tone, clearly seems intended as the last nail in the coffin.
The former first lady, a one-time investment banker with Lazard Frères, is smart, focused and very angry. For all the pious references to forgiveness stitched throughout the narrative, revenge is a barely concealed subtext.
And revenge she gets, but there's a good bit of collateral damage in what's just as obviously unintended self-revelation. In fact, by the time we get to the affair late in the book, it's a bit of a relief, since this is about the first normative impulse either of the Sanfords seems to have had during their marriage.
Take, for example, the future governor's haggling over their wedding vows, because he was reluctant to promise to be faithful. Now, why do we think somebody might have that sort of reservation?
Sanford spends a great deal of time describing her heroic efforts to accommodate what she repeatedly calls her husband's "frugality." Frugality! If this guy is frugal, the unreformed Ebenezer Scrooge was thrifty.
Consider this anecdote: Never good about presents -- early in their marriage he gave her "half" a used bicycle -- and momentarily remorseful for all the time he was spending away from his family while serving in Washington as a congressman, he had an aide buy a diamond necklace and hide it in the family home.
On the morning of his wife's birthday, he faxed clues so she could have "a treasure hunt." She was overjoyed when she found the necklace and wore it to dinner when he returned home. "That is what I spent all that money on?" he said. "I hope you kept the box."
According to Sanford's account, "He returned the necklace the next day, thinking it was not worth the money he had spent. He could see I was disappointed. . . . In truth, once I knew he thought he had overspent, I also knew it would pain him to see me wear the necklace had I insisted on keeping it. I wouldn't have felt comfortable wearing it in his presence, so what was the point?"
The unintentional point, of course, has to do with the power of martyrdom. As Sanford informs us elsewhere in the book, "Women were made for sacrifice."
And boy does she sacrifice . . . over and over and over. What's never clear from her extended exercise in score-settling is why? The man she describes is driven, self-absorbed, pathologically cheap and 360-degrees weird. She runs his political campaigns, puts up with his habitual absences and bears him four sons.
She even believes him, she tells us here, when late in their marriage he explains an unexpected trip alone to New York by saying he needs respite from the extra stress he is feeling because the hair on the top of his head is thinning.
Gimme a break.
If you believe that, you'll also believe Sanford really was looking for family property records when she ransacked her husband's desk while he was away on one of many hunting trips and found the file with his love letters.
On the other hand, this guy's self-absorption appears so complete that he demanded his wife's permission to continue seeing his mistress because it was the first thing he'd ever done for himself. (This is the same man who voted for Bill Clinton's impeachment and called the former president "reprehensible.") It was then that Sanford realized "reconciliation" was impossible.
But this is the logical end-result of the Republican-approved family, in which the wife dutifully takes the husband's lead and obeys his orders. What other power does she have, except simpering and martyrdom and inducing the hubby's guilt to get what she wants? Us loud gals here in the south who dare to ask men questions, are the "bad" girls, against which women like Sanford are judged. WE demand answers of men, so in contrast, they do not. See? They are the nice girls.
And we see what being nice gets you, hm?
Speaking of which, I finally finished the utterly-fascinating book GAME CHANGE and was pretty shocked at the behavior of Senator (and former VP-candidate) John Edwards, whom I had once admired. And now, his campaign aide, Andrew Young, has written HIS tell-all memoir, titled The Politician.
For those unaware, Edwards impregnated world-class flake Rielle Hunter, a maker of mediocre videos who momentarily convinced Edwards he was the Second Coming, while Edwards' wife Elizabeth struggled with incurable cancer. After Hunter's pregnancy was confirmed, Edwards ordered Young to claim HE had fathered the baby. Do you believe?!?
From the LA Times review:
Got a chief aide? Don't abandon him for your mistress. That's the lesson of "The Politician" by Andrew Young. For all its salacious finger-pointing, Young's tell-all is really about a bromance gone bad.Indeed, one unexpected result of GAME CHANGE is how both Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Edwards come out looking as ruthless as any male politicians. Most disturbing finding: Clinton was extremely eager to find the legendary videotape of Michelle Obama saying "whitey"--and exhorted her aides to find it so that she could use it against Barack Obama. (If it exists, no one successfully located it.) Like Elizabeth, Hillary also specializes in dumping all over her underlings. Sarah Palin actually comes off as more likable by contrast, if amazingly stupid and clueless, requiring several crash courses in world history.
"Where he once called several times a day, he now never dialed my number," he writes. "When I got through to him, he kept the calls brief and guarded what he said."
"He," of course, is John Edwards; when his affair with Rielle Hunter -- and Hunter's pregnancy -- hit the press, he persuaded Young to say the child was his. Then Young, his family and Hunter trundled off to a series of houses until the baby was born.
Young was an important player in Edwards' 2004 race for the Democratic presidential nomination, and he was a close friend. The Edwards and Young families were on vacation together at Disney World when Edwards learned that Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry had picked him as his vice presidential running mate.
According to Young, Edwards and Hunter -- who produced webisodes for the campaign -- carried on their affair for months before a story appeared in the National Enquirer.
Young details the affair from behind the scenes: He carried a special phone for Edwards to use when talking to Hunter; he was there during a visit she made to North Carolina when Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, was away on a book tour; and he caroused with Edwards, Hunter and others on the road during a night of rowdy drinking.
In 2008, Edwards had given up his second attempt at the Democratic nomination but was angling again to be the running mate. Elizabeth Edwards' cancer had gotten worse and Hunter had a baby daughter. In one of the more incredible details here, Young claims Edwards asked him to steal a diaper so he could do a DNA test; Young never did.
But as he was packing up a house that Hunter had briefly shared with his family, he found a box of her things, among them "a number of videotapes, including one marked 'special,' which had the tape pulled out and seemed intentionally broken. . . . I couldn't resist. With scissors, a pen, and some scotch tape, I fixed the cassette. . . . As I pressed play, we saw an image of a man -- John Edwards -- and a naked pregnant woman, photographed from the navel down, engaged in a sexual encounter."
Young is critical of everyone around him but never takes responsibility for his decisions. Edwards' women get particularly harsh treatment. Hunter is portrayed as a sex-crazed loose cannon. Elizabeth Edwards fares no better; in Young's telling, she's a controlling, vindictive harpy who leaves cruel phone messages for those who incur her wrath.
One thing I like about the speed of our modern era: we used to have to wait YEARS to get these fabulous scandal-mongering books about presidential campaigns. Now, the campaign workers are racing to their laptops to type them out before the concession speeches have even been given...