“… the Clinton marriage, however hollow from the inside, still honors the “till death do us part” formality. Besides, if there is no deceit or abuse inside the marriage, is it so wrong for them to agree to stay married, honoring their partnership as a social institution? Where is it written that a married couple must have romantic affection for each other for their marriage to be worth something — and worth preserving?”
The Clinton marriage has long been something of an obsession of mine. Firstly because Dreher is exactly right: the Clintons demonstrate that marriage is not mere sentiment but an objective fact. It is an alliance of interests, a concrete commitment, a relation sealed with vows and witnesses. Affection, while it ought to emerge naturally from these facts, is a fillip.
Secondly for a precisely opposite reason: I sometimes imagine that they are the secret representatives of genuine romance in our age. It is possible, in the world of idle speculation, that the two are positively frantic for each other and their public distance is a mere sham. The universal surety that Bill and Hillary privately despise one another only heightens the ordinary joy of sharing secrets to an impossible and ecstatic degree. When they were young they loved in the ordinary way, but as their love grew, in degree and in kind, they began to understand, more than other couple in our age, that marriage is like a theater and a play should be playful. It is possible that they regret now and then that one of their most convincing acts—the only one in which they have so far dared to include another actor—did so much lasting damage to the presidency and the country, but in their madness for one another patriotism is a tepid passion, and their regret never lasts long.