In the News: Divorces of Spies, Presidential Candidates.

Last week the Washington Post published an interesting peek into the uniquely complicated marriages and divorces of CIA agents.  Unsurprisingly, the secrecy required of CIA agents can take a tremendous toll on the civilian spouse, leading to an “astonishingly high” rate of divorce in the agency.

The article highlights to story of one unidentified woman’s divorce from her CIA agent husband, which at times reads a bit like something straight out of a spy thriller:

Her sense of being used grew more acute two years later when her husband asked her to visit a winery with their newborn daughter.

“I said, ‘No, unless you tell me what we’re getting into,’ ” the woman recalled.

He revealed the ulterior motive: A potential informant was meeting that day with a CIA colleague at the winery. But the colleague was not going to show up. The agency wanted to see how the informant would handle a surprising situation, the wife said she was told. The CIA needed her husband to observe the informant’s behavior. And the husband needed his wife, with baby in tow, to help him blend in.

The family of three found seats on a bench at the winery, the wife said. She fed the baby while they kept an eye on their target: The man in the dark suit waited 15 minutes before he made several frantic phone calls, the wife recalled. Eventually, he left.

Meanwhile, over on the Huffington Post’s divorce blog, you can read up on the affairs and divorces of presidential candidates throughout history, starting with a recount of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s two year affair with a younger woman who also happened to be Eleanor Roosevelt’s personal secretary. The article was inspired by the recurring media hubbub over Newt Gringich’s three marriages (and two divorces).

In addition to providing mildly titillating details on the escapades of various presidential candidates, the article highlights how Americans’ views on divorce and adultery have changed over time.  In FDR’s day, a divorce and/or affair could be political suicide (if the media chose to report it, which they often declined to do). Today, Newt’s alleged marital misconduct – including an allegation that he served his ailing wife with divorce papers while she was in the hospital – are of little concern even to most very conservative voters.

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