ESSAY- Choices, choices: Who'd you rather peer at over the pillow?

"Well, you overlook a lot of things." 

That's the wisdom my mother once shared with me when asked to define the key to a happy marriage. Of course, what I would overlook might not be what you would overlook. I suppose it all depends on what your definition of "things" is.

Ever since Hillary threw her hat into the presidential ring, the fact that she stood by her man and didn't haul his heinie into divorce court has resurfaced as a popular topic for discussion, both in the media and in the grocery store line.

"None of my business," is what I say when someone brings up the subject. What I'm thinking is: Why do you care? Then again, when you're married to the President and are known as "The First Lady," I suppose the fantasy that goes along with that is having a marriage and personal ethics that are, somehow, exemplary. 

I'm baffled by conservatives who sneer at Hillary Clinton for having kept her marriage intact. After all, overcoming obstacles, working it out, taking seriously the business about "till death do us part"– correct me if I'm wrong– but are those not the bedrock family values people on the right have been braying about for decades now?

But what I find completely incomprehensible is that Laura Bush has not yet run, screaming, from the White House. Holding these two marriages up for scrutiny, one has to wonder which is worse: knowing that your husband broke his vow of fidelity, or waking up every morning next to the man who hijacked the patriotism of his countrymen and did everything in his power to make them think Iraq and Saddam were responsible for the attacks of 9/11, when he knew this was totally false?

I imagine myself in Laura's place, looking across the sheets at that remorseless, slumbering man and knowing that, in thousands of homes here and abroad, people ache for their lost loved ones, cry themselves to sleep– because of him. Because of the lies he told.

Whenever the pundits turn their attention to whether First Lady Hillary should have broken up housekeeping with President Bill, I wait in vain for the segue into how Mrs. Dubya can continue to share her life with George Bush, can look into the eyes of the man with whom she's borne children, and contemplate the needless heartache and grief he has caused.

What would you do? Maybe you'd compartmentalize, rationalize, tell yourself that he hasn't betrayed you in any way– hasn't cheated on you. Okay, maybe he's cheated on the entire country, demonstrated an allegiance to war-profiteering corporate interests at the expense of our troops, of our treasury, of our world reputation. But, hey, that's just his job, right?

Which is the character flaw you'd have the least patience with: screwing around or causing the pointless maiming and death of thousands of human beings?

This is not something I'd have to mull over– but maybe that's just me.