time for more female politicians

Posted on March 12, 2008

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With New York governor Eliot Spitzer looking like he might soon bite the political dust after the sordid tale of being caught on wiretap as a client of a high-priced prostitution ring, perhaps it would enter voters’ heads that public humiliation tales like these could be history if female politicians and leaders were in charge.

Just think back on all the politicians who had come out recently to offer their mea culpas on national television while their shell-shocked and humiliated wives have been forced to stand by their sides and pretend to present a picture of domestic unity.

It must be so difficult and a demonstration of such restraint and iron will for wives to suppress the urge to hit their philandering husbands in public. Instead, they stand there miserably and offer their support to the unworthy husbands.

What was Mrs Silda Wall Spitzer thinking when she stood on that podium next to her obviously guilty husband? What was going through the mind of this high-powered, Harvard Law-educated woman, who actually gave up her high-flying legal career to support his political career and raise their three daughters? How much anguish must she be suffering to find out in such a public and humiliating way that her husband had betrayed her by using prostitutes and squandering a large amount of money on them?

Why, indeed, do these political wives persist in appearing at their cheating husbands’ sides when the men make their sorry public statements? How did Dina Matos McGreevey, the wife of former New Jersey governor Jame McGreevey who announced to the American public that he was gay, pluck up the courage to be with him when he revealed that shocking fact on television? And Hillary Clinton herself, too, played the role of wronged political spouse to Bill. Why do they continue to back up their unworthy spouses?

Many voters might not care very much about politicians’ private lives, while some would absolutely not vote for people who are gay/ have gone to prostitutes/ have an extramarital affair. Perhaps the best way to prevent that all-too-familiar situation of seeing a grim-faced, contrite politician standing with his wife at his side, expressing regret at their latest shenanigans, would be to vote in more female politicians.

Think about it. How many female politicians have you seen, let alone remember, doing the public mea culpa with their husbands standing by supportively over a sex scandal? Nancy Pelosi? Dianne Feinstein? Governors Jennifer Granholm, Janet Napolitano, Kathleen Sibelius? Try going further afield and consider foreign female leaders — Margaret Thatcher, the late Benazir Bhutto, Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, Michelle Bachelet, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Helen Clark? Any sex scandals forcing them to apologize and resign there?

Perhaps women are not as driven by their gigantic egos or irrationally high sex drive to be involved in such risky and seamy affairs. Or cynics may argue that women are just a lot better at not getting caught. But it seems that male politicians struggle with the wrong kind of sex too often. Psychologists have offered the explanation that some of these men in power suffer from almost god-like complexes, believing they are above the law, that rules did not apply to them as they did to normal people, or they can beat the system and never be caught. Others are just self-destructive and are looking to let off steam from their stressful and uncertain political careers. Whatever the reason, their peccadilloes soon catch up to them.

Given the more extreme make-up of male politicians, it could be a less sensational and shocking experience for everyone if there were just more female politicians who are equally qualified but would think more rationally when it came to sexual matters. And that might spare us all the unnecessary saga.

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