By D. Donovan, Midwest Book Review, March 19, 2017
It's about time that a book such as Why They Stay should appear to comment on the wives of politicians and why they remain in place despite reports of infidelity and bad behaviors. Not only does this apply to the highest political offices past and present, but its message and analysis will reach many a marriage where friends may wonder about the reasons why a wife stays in the home after misconduct is uncovered.
This is not to say that the two environments (political and personal) are identical and hold the same commitments and conundrums - far from it. As Why They Stay points out, political pressures and purposes are similar to traditional marriages in some aspects and far different in others. It's a gamble to stay in a situation where one's partner may or may not be exonerated from political charges, for example; and public perception and fallout that falls on a spouse from these actions differs between political figures and personal lives.
The nine political women chosen for close examination in this book range from Eleanor and FDR and Jackie and JFK to Southern belle/Harvard educated Silda Wall's relationship with Eliot Spitzer.
In each case there is a 'White Queen Quotient' assigned, rating each incident and following the scripted behaviors similar to all the political individuals in this book.
Social observation and political and psychological insights blend as the author reconciles her perception of 'why they stayed' ("Perhaps this sort of marriage, at the top echelons of Washington and international society, was made from different rules than I had agreed to when I married. Fidelity, honesty--perhaps these were quaint ideas better suited to less ambitious people. When one had the heights of the free world practically in one's grasp, maybe the bargain at the altar became more pragmatic.") with deeper thoughts about the consequences of behaviors and the political, legal, social and family ramifications of allegations and actions.
It's more than a recap of events, but follows the aftermath of these behaviors on family and associates as well, making Why They Stay a powerful survey of lessons learned, gathered by a columnist who covered politicians for decades and so holds the ideal combination of professional political journalist and inquirer into the kinds of arrangements these women had to grapple with and make in order to survive.