If any of the following
A) Silda Spitzer
B) Wendy Vitter
C) Dana McGreevey
E) Or even Hillary Clinton
. . . had been the one to have an affair (with a male prostitute, another woman, or just an intern), would we have press conference photos of Elliott, Craig, Jim, and Bill standing by their women?
I don't think so, and despite the fact that Laura Schlesinger could give moron lessons to Ann Coulter, I think that most people understand that the person guilty of cheating is--wait for it!--the person who actually cheated!
Yet although the apparently baseless charge that John McCain had an affair with lobbyist Vicki Iseman did little to derail his presidential campaign, imagine how quickly Senator Barack Obama's chances for the White House would evaporate if someone made at least superficially credible charges that Michelle had engaged in an affair?
Think about it. We all knew Bubba was a horn-dog, even at the outset, and those perpetual photo galleries of the Girls of Clinton probably brought him more votes (and cost Hillary a significant percentage of the critical credibility she now so desperately needs against Obama) and enhanced his image.
But it doesn't work that way for women, does it?
I'll give you a prime (if fictional) example. Techno-thriller author James H. Cobb has crafted a series of near-future US Navy novels around a modern (but female) Horatio Hornblower character, Amanda Garrett. Garrett has a steady love interest going with a helicopter pilot, but in Target Lock he's half a world away and she engages in purely recreational sex with the suave villain of the piece. In other words, she does exactly what Hornblower, or Richard Sharpe, or God knows any of WEB Griffin's male protagonists would have done: she gets her jollies with the cutest piece of ass around, regardless of what side it's on.
And the readers hated it:
From Publisher's Weekly (as quoted at Amazon.com):
While in pursuit, however, Garrett allows herself to be not only seduced but also kidnapped by Harconan, who takes her to his secret hideout where, coincidentally, the satellite is also stored. Garrett's poor judgment forces the Sea Fighters to turn a simple seek-and-recovery job into a damsel-in-distress rescue mission.
And Booklist (ditto the source):
He is also a classic exemplar of the charisma of the dark side, and Amanda is not unwilling to be seduced by him. Seduced but not turned, and when Harkonon learns that, he kidnaps her and holds her in a durance that, but for the Sea Fighter force, augmented by a moonlight-requisitioned Indonesian warship, might become exceedingly vile.
From one whining reader review (which is representational rather than exceptional):
Now Ms. Garret is reduced to a simpering puppy-love struck school girl who just can't help but fall into bed with her adversary.
Again, I have to note that the novel, as Cobb wrote it and not as these readers apparently experienced it merely turns around the standard romantic thriller gender roles to make Amanda the hero who wants to get laid, even if it's by the villain.
Not only did the readers reject the point, they refused even to see it in print.
Which is precisely why I think we're more ready, as a country, for an African-American male President than we are for a female leader. And ironically, the only public gender role that allows Hillary to appear strong enough to be the Leader of the Free World is to appear as such a bitch-bull-dyke-in-a-yellow-jumpsuit that makes a mockery of a woman running as a woman.