Ronda Kaysen: This is how Silda Wall Spitzer sees the whole my-governor-husband-slept-with-prostitutes incident: "The wife is supposed to take care of the sex. This is my failing; I wasn't adequate."
Yep, you read that right: Eliot Spitzer strayed because Silda wasn't up to her womanly duties, according to Peter Elkind's new biography about her husband's stunning fall from grace, "Rough Justice: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer."
Silda's totally disturbing comment speaks volumes. It says so much about why she stood stoically beside Eliot as he imploded before a national audience. This woman appears to be as sexually confused as her husband. What century is she living in? And what lesson does she hope to teach her teenage daughters, who had to live through this mortifying incident? That if they don't "take care of the sex" to their dear husband's liking, then he will not only stray, but also bring down the entire family?
After Eliot's fall, Silda spent weeks being skewered in the media, lampooned on late-night television and scrutinized by every wronged (or not wronged) critic with a blog. In stark contrast, when Jenny Sanford publicly broke from her philandering husband, she was cheered as the anti-Silda, the woman who did the right thing by kicking her governor hubby to the curb.
But until now, Silda's silence gave her a measure of grace. One could give her the benefit of the doubt and believe that she had stood on that podium with Eliot for some mysterious good reason unbeknownst to the rest of us. But her reason appears to be taken straight from a 1950s handbook on how to be good wife.
There's something deeply sad in Silda's comment. An accomplished woman in her own right, she put her successful law career aside to raise their kids and help her husband pursue his extraordinary ambitions. From the outside, it appears that she was plenty "adequate." Yet her comment shows a person consumed with self-blame and wracked with guilt for someone else's wrongdoings.
If you contrast her statement with her husband's recent behavior, the picture is even darker. Eliot has been busy making the cable-news rounds, trying to revive his shattered image without ever bothering to offer a reasonable explanation as to why he decided to ruin his name in the first place. Even Elkind's biography never gets Eliot to explain his motives. Silda, meanwhile, seems more than happy to flagellate herself to justify her husband's senseless and reckless behavior.