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Jenny Sanford: champion of marriage or yet another wife-victim?

June 25, 2009 |  7:18 am

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She is the granddaughter of Bolton Sullivan, founder of the Skil Corp. of Chicago, which makes electric power tools.

She has a degree in finance from Georgetown University.

She worked on Wall Street for the investment banking firm Lazard Freres & Co.

And she managed her husband's campaigns for Congress and the governor's mansion. She even spoke for him in the last days of the 2006 gubernatorial race when South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford was sidelined after burning his eyes under the bright stage lights at a groundbreaking ceremony.

But now 46-year-old Jenny Sullivan Sanford -- an outspoken woman who once lashed out at the Legislature for lavish spending while she cut costs at the governor's mansion -- will be remembered for her public response to her husband's private indiscretions.

One day after the governor confessed to having an affair with a woman in Argentina, pundits are having a field day.

Reading the statement she hand-delivered to reporters Wednesday, the one that quotes from Psalms and proclaims "the sanctity, dignity and importance of the institution of marriage," some praised her stalwart convictions and willingness to forgive.

"Unlike other self-esteem-lacking wives of cheaters, Jenny Sanford shows real courage, class, and dignity in her statement to the press — and in her decision NOT to stand by her adulterous husband at his public confession," wrote conservative columnist Michelle Malkin.

But the Daily Beast's Tina Brown saw it differently. Disappointed that Jenny Sanford did not "set the table for a big-ticket matrimonial lawyer to have a payday on behalf of all the humiliated political wives — ashen Mrs. Eliot Spitzer; pulverized Dina Matos McGreevey; quietly imploding Mrs. Larry Craig; fuming deity Elizabeth Edwards," Brown said the first lady let the governor off the hook.

Belittling Jenny Sanford's offer to forgive her husband if he's willing to work on their relationship -- shades of Hillary Rodham Clinton -- Brown added, "God is great. Roll on the book deal about Resilience, and the date with Oprah."

What do you think?

-- Johanna Neuman

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Photo Credit: Reuters photo of the couple arriving at the Obama White House on Feb. 22, 2009, before South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's wife Jenny wife learned that he was having an affair with a woman in Argentina.

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