Friday, 2 December 2011

Blame the wife.

In the wake of the Hermain Cainwreck, Slate has produced a round-up of male politicians who blame the wimminz for their decision to quit - often minutes ahead of the tar-and-feather brigade coming for them.
Today’s political candidate has a new means of saving face should he find himself facing an insurmountable obstacle to victory. If he wants to drop out of a race or back away from considering a run, he needn’t admit weakness, not anymore; all he needs to do is pass the buck and blame his wife. Cain did this on Wednesday, when, in the wake of allegations that he had a lengthy extramarital affair with a woman named Ginger White, he said that he needed to discuss the fate of his presidential campaign with his wife [...]

How awkward for Gloria. But while Cain’s use of the wife-as-escape-hatch strategy may be particularly egregious, he isn’t the first to lay this sort of responsibility at his spouse’s feet. Earlier this year, when Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels announced that his wife and daughters—“the women’s caucus,” he called them—had vetoed a presidential run, the reasoning actually sounded believable, given Cheri Daniels’ well-documented aversion to the spotlight and the growing media attention to the Daniels’ past marital problems. (In the ’90s, she divorced Mitch, married another guy, and then came back.) Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour didn’t directly invoke his wife in deciding not to run earlier this year, but he hardly needed to: Unnamed family friends did that work for him, telling reporters that she was a definite factor in the decision. [...]

But the Reluctant Wife excuse is also a matter of strategy and convenience, a kind of shorthand that stops further questions. In this sense, the strategy recalls the way politicians and CEOs always claim they’re resigning to spend more time with their families. It’s not necessarily that the excuse isn’t true, but it may not be the entire story.

The wife-as-escape-hatch, if artfully done, can work on two levels. It makes a candidate seem attentive to his wife’s concerns, but suggests no diminution of his own testosterone-fueled ambitions. It’s the campaign-trail equivalent of the swaggering guy who threatens to take a swing at another guy in a bar, but manages to avoid the fight by bellowing ”Hold me back!” He gets to be manly and competitive and a good guy, all at the same time.
Pussy-whipped, by implication and/or hiding behind Mommy's skirts. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, the "spend more time with the family" punchline that gets trotted out every time a hypocritical (and really, it most often is the most earnestly family values/anti-slut/homophobic types that seem to suffer from wayward dick syndrome) politician gets caught wide-stancin' in an airport bathroom stall.


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