Obama: Michelle’s Heavy Burden
As far as anybody knows, there haven’t been any affairs in the Obama marriage, but that doesn’t mean the union has been without its friction. Most of it was a result of Obama’s political aspirations conflicting with Michelle’s dedication to family. “Michelle didn’t especially want Barack to run for state Senate, much less U.S. Senate, and certainly not president. At every step, he talked her into it,” writes Michelle Cottle in the New Republic. The time Obama spent campaigning or in session in Springfield or Washington, D.C. often left the burden of caring for their kids solely on Michelle, who had a career of her own. Not surprisingly, she was none too pleased. “You only think about yourself,” she would scold Obama after the birth of their second child, Sasha, he writes in The Audacity of Hope. “I never thought I’d have to raise a family alone.” Obama writes that they used to have this classic marital argument “repeatedly,” and that he only began to really appreciate Michelle’s sacrifices in hindsight. If this all seems like small potatoes compared to McCain and Clinton, that’s because it is. “This is what perfectionists in love look like,” writes Melinda Henneberger in Slate. “A relationship that’s far more egalitarian than most political unions.”
McCain: You Can Never Go Home Again
The return home from Vietnam was especially difficult for McCain. Unknown to him, his wife Carol had been critically injured in a car accident during Christmas of 1969, breaking both legs, her pelvis, and an arm and suffering serious internal injuries. When McCain saw his wife for the first time stateside, in March 1973, she was truly a different person—four inches shorter and on crutches after 23 operations. Stationed in Jacksonville in 1974 to command the Replacement Air Group, McCain began cheating with other women—sometimes his subordinates, it was rumored. When the 43-year-old McCain began a relationship with his current wife, Cindy (25 years old at the time) in 1979, he had recently separated from but not divorced Carol. The marriage was finally dissolved in April 1980. Carol doesn’t blame the failure of her marriage on her accident. “I attribute it more to John turning forty and wanting to be twenty-five again,” she told author Robert Timberg in John McCain: An American Odyssey. McCain, for his part, places the blame on his insufficient determination to rebuild his marriage after so many years apart during the war. “My marriage’s collapse was attributable to my own selfishness and immaturity more than it was to Vietnam,” he writes in Worth the Fighting For. More recently, the New York Times hinted in a now notorious February 2008 article that McCain had engaged in a romantic relationship with a female lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, who in some photos looks eerily similar to Cindy McCain—though “I got confused” probably won’t fly as an excuse. McCain and Iseman have denied any inappropriate relationship.