Silda is everywhere. In email exchanges between friends, in discussions around office water coolers, on television shows and radio reports, in op-eds and articles. In the midst of a massive scandal concerning sex, money and a self-righteous-turned-self-destructive resigning governor, our country has chosen the wife to focus on. There have been countless political sex scandals in our nation's history and therefore countless wives standing by their men - why have we chosen this scandal to focus on the woman?
Silda Wall Spitzer's story is indeed a compelling one. She graduated from Harvard Law School and was a "rising corporate lawyer" until she chose to put her career aside to help the political ambitions of her husband, New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Now, just two days after the public learned Spitzer was caught on a wiretap arranging a prostitute (see "Kristen's" MySpace page here), hours after Spitzer announced his resignation, Silda must be asking why she sacrificed so much. For what? Public humiliation?
Much of the discourse concerning New York's first lady has focused on why she stood by her man as he made his public apology. Why didn't she just scream and say what every aggrieved spouse wants to say: "Enough! This is your fault - clean up your own damn mess!" We have all wondered: Was she in shock? Did she think she had to do it? Was it for the children? Was she trying to help salvage her husband's political career?
My question is, Why now? We have had the wives of: McGreevey, Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho (think: airport bathroom), Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana (DC Madam), Sen. Gary Hart of Colorado (female house guest), you get the point. Why have we chosen Spitzer's wife to over-analyze?
I think it may be the simple reason that her face shows expression. One look at a photograph or video footage of Silda standing next to Eliot as he apologized or resigned, and you instantly get the entire picture. You see the shock, the shame, the hours of crying, the lack of sleep, the confusion, the disappointment, the disgust and the sadness.
Unlike more common images of first ladies, who look perfectly made up and camera ready, Silda looks real. She looks human. One look at her and you know the pain her husband is putting her through.
These male politicians stand up at podiums all the time by themselves - when it's something they're proud of. They don't invite the wife along when they deliver state of the union addresses or announce exciting prosecutions. Why do they get to bring the wife along to this? They don't bring their children or parents.
Maybe all this coverage of Silda will do some good. Maybe this is a sign of a shift in times, and Silda Wall Spitzer will be the last wife to be invited to this kind of press conference. Maybe the next political wife whose husband is caught screwing around can stay home. After all, Eliot didn't invite Silda to Washington.