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Columns

June 30, 2012

Why do women stand by such awful men?

Most men _ and you know who you are _ are not to be trusted.

This is, of course, a given, an indisputable fact, as any woman would tell you if you bothered to ask.

Give a fellow the least opportunity to do something incredibly stupid, tawdry, dishonest or otherwise inappropriate, and he'll roll up his sleeves, spit on his hands and get right down to it _ all the while deluding himself into thinking he'll get away with it ... somehow.

Being a card-carrying member of the gender, I have no problem relating to the basic premise that men _ particularly prominent ones _ are basically swine.

But women married to those guys remain a mystery, particularly those who adhere to the philosophy of the late Tammy Wynette, who sang and co-wrote the 1968 country hit, "Stand By Your Man."

Despite their husbands doing the most despicable things, you keep seeing these women standing by their men ... sometimes in front of a jury.

I hasten to add that I am not married to one of those women. My wife would leave me if I left the toilet seat up.

The latest example of inexplicable loyalty is 69-year-old Dottie Sandusky, whose husband, Jerry, used his position as a longtime assistant football coach at Penn State University to sexually abuse children. He was convicted June 22 on 45 counts of abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period.

The evidence was so overwhelming that Dottie had to know her husband was guilty of these indefensible and heinous acts on vulnerable boys. The Sanduskys' adopted son, Matt, even came forward and said Jerry Sandusky had abused him, too.

And yet, there she was during the trial, smiling at that evil man, encouraging him and winking at him in the courtroom.

On June 19, former baseball pitcher Roger Clemens was found not guilty on charges of lying to Congress about using performance-enhancing drugs. Even after the verdict, there are few knowledgeable baseball people outside of that jury room who dispute that Clemens did steroids.

Supporting him all the way through the trial was his wife, Debbie, who implausibly testified that it was she, rather than her husband, who was injected with illegal drugs by the pitcher's former strength coach.

There was Mrs. Clemens, the supportive wife despite being thrown under the media bus by her husband and having read all the newspaper accounts of his various extramarital relationships, including one with country music singer Mindy McCready that began when she was 15.

Back in 2007, Larry Craig was a very conservative anti-gay rights Republican senator from Idaho when he was arrested for making a sexual advance to an undercover male cop in a men's room at the Minneapolis airport.

Amid the ensuing political fury, Craig's wife, Suzanne, stood beside him at a news conference as he insisted, "I am not gay. I never have been gay." Craig, long rumored to be homosexual, pleaded to a lesser charge, chose not to run for re-election and remains married.

Wendy Vitter, wife of Louisiana family values conservative Republican Sen. David Vitter, defiantly scolded the media when standing by her husband at his 2007 news conference in the wake of his name appearing on a list of clients of a Washington, D.C. madam.

Her loyalty apparently has paid off. Vitter was re-elected in 2010.

Then there's the unfortunately named Anthony Weiner, who was a Democratic member of Congress last year when he admitted he had "exchanged messages and photos of an explicit nature with about six women over the last three years."

Weiner resigned in disgrace. His wife, Huma Abedin, a longtime personal aide of Hillary Clinton's, didn't appear at Weiner's farewell media conference, but she has stuck with him.

Speaking of Hillary Clinton, while her husband, Bill, was denying various alleged affairs during his presidential campaign in 1992, she famously stated on "60 Minutes" that "I'm not sitting here, some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette."

Hillary made little secret of how furious she was after her man fessed up about Monica Lewinsky, but hey, they're still married.

Surely the booby prize for standing by her man has to go to Silda Wall, wife of disgraced former New York Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer had to resign in 2008 after it was revealed that he was an enthusiastic, regular customer of a high-priced prostitution agency.

In 2010, his wife was quoted in the Peter Elkind book, "Rough Justice: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer."

"The wife is supposed to take care of the sex," she said. "This is my failing; I wasn't adequate."

Good grief. How could she write that? Is that what those other wives thought, too? It wasn't their fault. The failing was not theirs, but their husbands'. Wynette had it absolutely right in that famous song when she sang:

"After all, he's just a man."

Sam Pollak is the editor of The Daily Star. He can be reached at spollak@thedailystar.com or at (607) 432-1000, ext. 208. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/sampollak.

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