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Second Look: Silda Spitzer, The Political Wife

I was among those who were shocked and thoroughly dismayed by the report that Eliot Spitzer had been busted for frequenting a prostitution service. I also should admit that dismay can turn to laughter very quickly when you start following the story in the blogosphere, not least at the Wonkette. If you go there, you can peruse some of the advertisements from the Guv’s high end whore house, otherwise known as The Emperor’s Club. (Did someone forget to tell Eliot that he’s a governor, not an emperor?) Spitzer deserves to be the the butt of every single joke that is made in the next year, but that’s not why I’m writing today.

As usual, some bystanders will have been hurt as well. If Hillary Clinton is one of them, you can understand why she might be really, really tired of this kind of news. Tired of, but not as sad as Silda Spitzer.


Photojournalism provides a record of the art, rituals, and performances of political theater. This photo is one of many that we can classify as portraits of the political wife. I saw the image for the first time yesterday afternoon and it stayed with me through the rest of the day and into the evening. Whenever I thought of some aspect of the scandal, I soon would be back to her standing there, taking the hit. Eyes down, hands behind her back, face and neck exposed to the camera’s glare, she is a picture of vulnerability. The contrast with him is all too telling: his stance remains combative, and although caught in the glare of publicity he’s still maneuvering, still fending off his opponents while protected by a lecturn that bears the great seal like a shield.

Although close beside him, she appears to be a study in isolation. She could be a statue, and one that surely would be able to represent not only loss and grief but also duty and loyalty. That probably should be admired for what it is; I also look forward to the day when the ritual changes and the emperor has to stand there alone. But that is not this day. She has chosen to stand beside him, however far away she may wish to be. Her response is not to fight back but to reflect, perhaps to think about how she got here, or what she still can hold on to, or just to remember better days. Perhaps she might be remembering a day like this:


She’s even wearing the same pearls.

Photographs by Patrick Andrade/New York Times; Jim McKnight/Associated Press.


Second Look: Silda Spitzer, The Political Wife


8 Responses

  1. […] scandal surrounding New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer has an Iwindowintopalestine.blogspot.comSecond Look: Silda Spitzer, The Political Wife I was among those who were shocked and thoroughly dismayed by the report that Eliot Spitzer had […]

  2. […] 11, 2008, 2:42 pmby admin best video: spitzer s wife foruser();    Second Look: Silda Spitzer, The Political Wife I was among those who were shocked and thoroughly dismayed by the report that Eliot Spitzer had […]

  3. Zee says

    I’m fascinated by the way they’re using red and blue, and specifically by the way she’s using light blue. One of those wonkette comments asks if there’s a uniform, but I noticed before that–HE’s dressed the same in both pictures (barring the obvious change from serious to bouncy tie), but in the top one she’s playing up innocent and feminine, and in the bottom one she’s much more aggressive (bright red, and that collar).

  4. Janis Edwards says

    I thought she looked like she wanted to twist his genitals into a knot, but I am re-thinking that interpretation in light of the reports that she wanted him to stand fast and fight.

  5. Erik J says

    Did you guys see that Saturday Night Live picked up on the political wife in their cold open this past week? You can find the video online.

  6. Thomas Carroll says

    Honestly, I think they are a good looking couple. She is a very pretty lady, but the picture her standing firm is one of a strong, obviously smart woman. She looks like I felt when Mr. Spitzer was busted by a phone tap and his actions. I wonder what Republican agency, put that together. Mr. Spitzer was exactly what this country needed, then, and even more so, Now! Obama has failed the most serious test of courage and seems to be sinking fast under the influence of Tim Giethner. I think Mrs. Spitzner realized how unique and important her husbands task was and like me feels very lost. Realizing his mission was and hopefully is more important than our personal ethics, this man was meant to deal with the most important problem this country has faced since the last time these same characters destroyed the entire country through their unrelenting Greed! We have a Republican party that has complete disdain for the average American and a Democratic party half as corrupt as their alter ego. The American people are a very angry public with no place to turn, I fear the worst possible scenario may well be in the cards. Elliot Spitzer could be a leader of a movement of other leaders, to take the forefront. I hope somebody takes the lead and quick.!

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