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May 13, 2011

Mitch Daniels And the Part of the Sexual Double Standard That Hurts Men

Mitch Daniels is waiting for his wife's okay on a presidential run.

She's long been reluctant to give her blessing, because a presidential bid would publicize already-known but not often talked about facts about their marital history. And, while no one can know the complete facts -- no one knows what the hell goes on inside a marriage, even the husband and wife -- it appears that, for once, the more innocent party is the male politician, and the less innocent party is his wife.

So she'll get an awful lot of bad attention and jokes about her on Leno and Letterman and general sniggers from our awful liberal media.

And Daniels, dutiful husband that he is, is allowing Cheri Daniels to make this decision.

Here's the thing: That's what a husband is supposed to do, right? When women imagine dream husbands, that's the sort of thing they'd claim they really respected, right?

But I don't think people will respect this. Even though this is what he supposedly should do, and we're all supposed to praise him for this, almost no one will actually praise him. They'll go through the motions of saying "It's nice to see someone deferring to his wife" right before writing about how weird and weak it makes Mitch Daniels.

And similarly with the actual marital problems themselves. (New York Times link.)

He has been married twice — to the same wife.

Should he run, that chapter in his life would no doubt be picked over in public and become a part of the personal narrative that springs up around any serious candidate: in this case a three-year gap in their marriage in the 1990s, when she filed for divorce, moved to California with a new husband and left Mr. Daniels to raise their four daughters, then ages 8 to 14. She later returned and remarried him.

He has discussed it only once publicly, telling The Indianapolis Star in 2004: “If you like happy endings, you’ll love our story. Love and the love of children overcame any problems.”

Their story is in some ways an antidote to a string of philandering male politicians. But it is a topic that Mr. Daniels does not relish delving into, several friends said. And it has been one of the factors as he weighs whether to run for president, a rare position where scrutiny begins and privacy ends whether or not one gets the job.

So here's the other part of the double-standard: Supposedly, a man is supposed to put his children above all else, and his wife -- even one who took off to marry another man -- just slightly below that. Till death do us part and all.

But a show of hands of who thinks this actually will be counted in his favor -- or will be used to paint him as a desperate, beta-male weirdo who can't keep his wife in line.

If you have two male politicians -- a Bill Clinton and a Mitch Daniels -- with some colorful marital history, which one gets falsely scolded, but actually gets a pass (and even some "pimp hand" respect) and which one gets falsely praised but actually gets his decision, whether romantic or just plain selfless, held against him as the sign of the weakling?

In this context, honestly, I think it would wind up being good news for Mitch Daniels if it slipped out he was cheating on his wife, thereby driving her away.

Weird, eh?

We have a template for that, at least. People know how to think about it. People know how to forgive it and ignore it, because they're called upon to do so so often.

But the situation here, as it seems based on the facts known -- there's not a template for that. We don't know how to react to that.

Daniels Says He'd Like Condi Rice as a VP: When I wrote this post, I expected commenters to give Daniels a bit of a break. Turns out, not so much. It seems like even people who should be predisposed to giving him some space on this are looking for reasons to mock him.

If the comments are a preview of the liberal media, then forget it.

Then again, I don't know how many of the negative comments are from people supporting other candidates and therefore not at all predisposed to cutting the guy some slack. I do know one of the commenters from Hot Air and here, who supports another candidate, was gleefully spreading this all over the blogs months ago -- that's how I first heard of it. (No, not a Romney supporter; a Palin supporter. That's not Palin's fault, of course.)

Daniels says he'd like Condi Rice as VP. Given his situation, I think he actually needs the opposite. He can't play further into the idea that women boss him.

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posted by Ace at 01:50 PM

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