What Kind Of Political Wife Are You?

Big news in New York these days: disgraced politicians Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner are both running for political office again.  Spitzer, who was New York’s attorney general and governor, is pursuing city comptroller. Weiner, a former New York Congressman, is making a play for mayor.


As you may recall, both earned their shame honestly. As governor, Spitzer patronized high priced prostitutes and resigned in 2008.  In 2011, Weiner Tweeted pictures of his bare chest and favorite organ, lied vociferously about doing so, and then resigned his office as representative. The wives of both men stood by faithfully in the immediate aftermath, posing for publicity with pained, twisted expressions on their faces.


Both Spitzer and Weiner are doing well in their respective races.  Spitzer is the frontrunner in the Democratic primary race for New York City comptroller.Voters seem inclined to forgive their peccadillos, and the media loves a salacious story where sex can peek out under the mantle of serious politics.


Bigger news, to me, are the roles being played, or not played, by the wives here.  Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, is a former top aide for Hillary Clinton.  She was pregnant with her first child when the Weiner scandal broke.  Having been through a nasty divorce myself, I mentally advised her to cut and run at that point, before the marital mud got even muddier.  However, Abedin stood by her man, seems to be a happy wife and mother, and is pursuing the political spouse role with gusto.  She has made numerous campaign appearances, with and without Weiner, and is proving to be a formidable fundraiser on her husband’s behalf.


Silda Wall Spitzer, alternatively, is staying out of sight.  She and Eliot Spitzer are living 18 blocks apart in Manhattan, she in the family apartment on Fifth Avenue, he nearby with his ailing parents.  Silda Spitzer, a former corporate lawyer, has returned to fulltime work as a private equity advisor with NewWorld Capital Group. On weekends she slips out of town to the couple’s 160 acre Hudson River Valley retreat.


A friend explained Silda Spitzer’s “support” of her husband’s campaign decision to the New York Times:


“To be honest, she’d probably rather he didn’t do it,” said Karen Finerman, a longtime friend of the couple whose new book was feted by Ms. Wall Spitzer at a party last month. “It opens up a whole chapter that was a difficult chapter,” Ms. Finerman added. “But it is not in her nature to say to him, ‘No, you can’t.’ ”