Keep your confessional culture to yourself

Eliot Spitzer is a tool and jerk, but if you have any familiarity with his record as DA, it’s apparent that he was a tool and a jerk long before he got within banging distance of Ashley Dupré.

Inevitably when these scandals happen, the righteous and the merely partisan bay for blood.  That’s terrific, I’m all for it.  What is less terrific is the suggestion of one Connie Schultz, of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, who insists that Mr. Spitzer owes a public apology to his wife.

Most women wanted to hear one thing yesterday from Eliot Spitzer.

We didn’t care about his plans to serve “the public good,” his lamenting “what could have been” or how bad he felt about letting down his fellow New Yorkers.

No.

First and foremost, we wanted this philandering hypocrite of a husband to step up to the microphone and turn, not toward the cameras, but toward his devastated wife, Silda Wall Spitzer, and say, “I am so sorry I did this to you.”

To you.

Not to “my family,” as he couched it on Monday.

Not to “my wife,” which is how he framed it on Wednesday, as if his partner of 21 years were not standing next to him.

No.

We wanted him to take a whole five seconds of his 140-second statement to pay tribute to the wife who, at his request, would endure the predictable onslaught of blame, judgment and ridicule to stand by his side and not slug him on national television.

That, however, is not what he did.

— Connie Schultz, “Spitzer has one more apology to make — publicly“. Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 12th, 2008.

Funnily enough, “most women” did not take a vow to love and cherish Mr. Eliot Spitzer, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, ’till death do them part.  As far as I’m aware, only one woman took that vow.  The wants and needs of “most women” are completely irrelevant to the future prospects of the Spitzer-Wall marriage.

The proper thing, which Mr. Spitzer did not do, is keep his suffering wife off the stage.  She is not a political prop, and frankly she shouldn’t be out there.  Let the man try and resurrect his sinking political career on his own; his wife doesn’t deserve to be out there sharing in his shame.  Spitzer has dealt with the public penance—the initial apology, and subsequent resignation—what remains is absolution (if that is even possible) for the violation of vows between a man and his wife.  I for one do not want to see that slapped all over the evening news any more than I’d want to see the details of my neighbour’s divorce on the evening news.

The hoi polloi may feel that he should make public atonement to his wronged wife, but in reality, he has and will doubtless continue to seek absolution from his wife, in private, possibly for many years to come.  What good is a public apology if, by chance, she’s not yet ready to forgive him?  If you have ever witnessed a noisy, messy public spat between a husband and wife, the last thing you want them to do is turn to the host and friends nearby and offer up a patently false apology.  You know that it’s just a temporary ceasefire until they get behind closed doors where the heavy artillery and recriminations can come out.  How can the witnesses begin to address that?  “Gee, sorry your marriage disintegrated before the entrée was served.  Would you like me to package some hors d’œuvres that you and your soon-to-be-ex husband can throw at each other on the car ride home?”  You’ve just tanked somebody else’s rec time with your own damn three-hanky sideshow, and that’s déclassé as hell.

Damn, people, get a grip.  I guarantee you if anybody ever chooses to pull that stunt on my turf, the police will never find the bodies.  You want drama?  Fine, but do it on your own time, not mine.

This is certainly a tragedy for the spouses, but it is best resolved between those parties in private, not on a stage with cheerleading squads rooting for each side.  That way lies madness and Oprahville.  What the world needs is more adults, who can handle their private tragedies in private, and not spill their guts in public as if 300 million strangers gave a rat’s ass.

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