CURRENT MOON

Saturday, November 10, 2007

OPM (Other People's Marriages)


One of the enduring stories about the marriage of Bill and Hillary Clinton is that it's a "political" marriage -- whatever that means. I've often tried to puzzle it out and, near as I can tell, it means that they don't "really" love each other, instead, they stay together in order to promote each other's political aspirations. One thing I do know: it's never said as a compliment. It's always meant to denigrate both of them, to imply that she's a cold shrew, that he's a slimy cad, and that they're, as a result, somehow "anti-family" (in spite of having stayed together through thick and thin and having raised a, by all accounts, amazingly well-adjusted and accomplished daughter.

My own notions are that (1) other people's marriages are none of my business, my own were so complicated that I'm still trying to puzzle them out and I was actually involved in them, instead of standing on the outside looking in; (2) most people that I know stay together for a variety of reasons and for different reasons at different times in the marriage; and (3) staying together "for the kids" or because you have a comfortable life together with mutual friends and a bank account that is greater than the sum of its post-divorce parts or because your religion frowns on divorce, or "for politcal reasons" is nobody's business but your own.

That said, I was fascinated to read an account today in the WaPo of the marriage between two local politicians: Virginia's Republican Congressman Tom Davis, of Fairfax and his (second) wife, recently-defeated Virginia State Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis. (She kept her own maiden name and only hyphenated his! She must not "really" love him!) The entire tone of the article is so different from the tone of articles on the Clinton marriage that I believe that it's worth quoting at some length:

Theirs is a partnership of politics and ambition that formed a decade ago and grew into something more.

He was a powerful congressman. She was a fledgling state candidate with promise. A master politician with a national profile, he took her under his wing and found his life's love.

They both craved the game, and they both sought power. When he moved on to the Senate, she could run for his seat, or perhaps a statewide office in Virginia. Together, they made a life centered around these ambitions.

. . .

The story of how the Davises' success became interdependent is not hard to trace through those who have watched the political romance blossom over the years.

. . .

Most friends and associates of the Davises won't talk openly about when the romance began. Tom and his first wife, Peggy Davis, a Fairfax County gynecologist who, by most accounts, despised politics, were divorced in the fall of 2003, just a few months before the new couple declared their plans to wed.

"Jeannemarie is Tom's perfect soul mate," said Baise. "Peggy was not. I think everybody sort of sees that. They live, breathe and love the action."

John and Jeannemarie Devolites filed for divorce in 2000 but remained united as parents. They appeared together in court in 2002, when their daughter, Ashley, then 20, was sentenced to a nine-year prison term for her role in a series of armed robberies in Fairfax City.

After their wedding, the new Davises moved quickly to forge a marriage that seemed inseparable from their public life. They did joint speaking engagements and campaign events. They scheduled a vacation once with a return date timed so both could attend the Vienna Day Fourth of July Parade -- and later bragged about it to friends. During Virginia's winter legislative sessions, the Davises started a tradition of reserving Mondays for "date night." He would meet her at the Capitol in Richmond, say hello to their Republican colleagues, and have dinner alone with her before heading north for the busy week on Capitol Hill.

"They seem infatuated with each other," said Del. Thomas Davis Rust (R-Fairfax), also a Davis recruit to state politics. "He is the congressman, he is the more influential, powerful person. But" -- and Rust chuckled here -- "she treats him as her husband, if you know what I mean. It's an equal partnership."

Davis often seemed to defer to his wife in public. He hovered near her at the state Capitol. He even agreed to a joint photo session wearing matching light blue shirts and white slacks, his fair hair nearly as coiffed as hers, and their two white Maltese dogs on their laps.

After walking away from his own ambition, Davis used every page in his playbook to save his wife and, at the same time, the Republican majority in the state Senate. He brought in his own seasoned staff and arranged for New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to join Devolites Davis at a campaign event and praise her votes for gun control. As she flashed her white smile and flipped her always-perfect dark hair, her husband watched from the back of the room, his dual roles of doting husband and tactical genius in full effect.

It was a pure Davis move, helping his wife court Democrats in an increasingly left-leaning district and offering Bloomberg the prize of heavy media coverage.

But it wasn't enough.

Davis's investment in his wife's career clearly has come to be about more than politics.

. . .

Thompson believes that Davis chose to throw himself into his wife's reelection campaign not to salvage his own political career but out of love. Others believe it was a little bit of both.


How fascinating that it's apparently completely ok for these twice-married Republicans with problem children to base a marriage upon a love of politics, but it's somehow wrong for the Clintons to have done the same.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

good lord.

I've always said the only people who understand a marriage are the two people involved. And as you point out, maybe they don't quite grasp it either.

ql-vaginal american

Shaw Kenawe said...

I've pointed out a gazillion times on Gooper blogs that Bill and Hillary have stayed together "for better or for worse" as the marriage vows demand.

It doesn't matter.

Goopers hate the Clintons.
Even if they were Mary and Joseph, they'd criticize them for staying together just for the glory of having a famous son.

spinoza said...

Too bad the Clinton daughter is not a thief. That would give Broder a woody.

Anonymous said...

Tom and his first wife, Peggy Davis, a Fairfax County gynecologist who, by most accounts, despised politics, were divorced in the fall of 2003, just a few months before the new couple declared their plans to wed.

IMO, any woman who marries, or announces her engagement, immediately on the heels of her intended's divorce may as well have had the words "I think screwing married men is an acceptable form of husband-hunting" tattooed on her forehead.

Anonymous said...

Goopers hate the Clintons.
Even if they were Mary and Joseph, they'd criticize them for staying together just for the glory of having a famous son.
Shaw Kenawe

Plus, the Goopers woud be sliming Hillary as a slut who got pregnant out of wedlock.

Fer sure.
jawbone

Great catch, Hecate. And this is sooooo IOKIYAR!