Friday, February 5, 2010

Staying True by Jenny Sanford

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.

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.
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.

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.

"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.
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.


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...


Joan said...

I am not sure I would call her "nice". I was invited to the Governor's Mansion a few years ago for a recognition/celebration event and was stunned at how rude she was to the Governor in public.

She kept snapping at him and correcting him. At that time I decided their marriage was a purely business relationship and only saw a terribly lonely man when I looked at his pictures from then on. I wish they could have felt free to divorce years ago.

Blue Heron said...

A wonderful synopsis on your part, as usual. You really are a talented writer, you know? Sounds like Miss Jenny is wearing her victimhood as some sort of badge of honor"

...He was a total shit from the get go, but us southern ma'ams have a long suffering tradition of hopeless lost causes and going down with the ship..."

I had an alcoholic friend, long since sober, who was married to such a woman. She derived power from his incompetence. When he got clean she left him - had no role left to play.

Back with my wife in Tennessee when one day she called to me
Virgil, quick come see, there goes Robert E Lee
Now I don't mind choppin' wood
And I don't care if the money's no good
You take what you need and you keep the rest
But they should never have taken the very best.

The night they drove old Dixie down
And the bells were ringing
The night they drove old Dixie down
And the people were singing, they went
La la la la la la, la la la la la la la la, la

Mary said...

'Half a bicycle?' Pardon me, but isn't that a unicycle?
Sorry, it had to be said.

D. said...

This sort of thing always makes me very happy that politicians have never been attracted to me (nor I to them, of course; but it's easier when they are not trying to spray snake oil on you).

I've linked to this.

passinthru said...

I don't know why anyone would believe a word of Gamechange. If there's truth in it, it's probably accidental.

white rabbit said...

Oh dear...

What a sorry state of affairs. A lot of 'couples' plainly stay together for commercial/presentational reasons when one or both behaves in a way that would destroy a real relationship in a spectacular way. I suspect Jenny Sandforth doth protest too much - and a no doubt lucrative book contract to do the protesting in is a big tick. It's almost certainly a cynical form of a form of co-dependency.

Having said this, I'd never heard of these people before. I have heard of Hillary, though - and her eagerbess to nail down the 'whitey' thing plus Bill's (okay he's not her but they are another of these double acts of convenmience) comments to Ted Kenn3edy about Obama (B) bringing them coffee not so long ago paints an unattractive picture. Sarah Palin may have the IQ of a flea with beliefs to match but I sort of take your poiunt.

Oh and 'hiking on the Appalachian Trail' - you have a new euphemism for doing it! ;) Over here we have 'discussing Uganda' as a euphemism for sexual activity. Don't ask why.

wv: noxis

Dave Dubya said...

Politicians, millionaires, and the rest of the "elites" seem to always be more the problem than the solution. As long as they have the ignorant masses voting for them and idolizing them, we will continue to have a dysfunctional society.

JoJo said...

Eegads. I feel dirty having read all that. Man that is just TMI. lol I need to take a shower. ;) Humans love a good scandal.

Meowser said...

Any more, I'm amazed when an alpha male actually CAN keep it zipped, rather than being stunned when he doesn't. They are, almost to a person, incredibly shitty bets for long-term monogamy.

What interests me is the people who cover for them, as Andrew Young did. I mean, he had some explaining to do to his wife, didn't he, about the affair he didn't really have and the kid who wasn't really his? And stealing a diaper? Seriously? Was Hunter that resistant to having a DNA test? Or is it just that if Hunter agreed to a DNA test, she (and the rest of the world) would know the results?

Ann O'Dyne said...

I have often said 'whitey' in reference to unkind people of my own skintone, where they have been unjust with regard to the lifestyle of our indigenous race (here in Australia).
I am guilty also, of using the n-word back in the early 1960's when I discovered Blues music.
I have to say
'context is everything'.