Even before GQ asked its readers cheekily, “Do You Have an Office Wife?” back in 2006, office wives had a long history in work environments. Think Buddy and Sally, or Mary Richards and Murray Slaughter. In that respect, the business of politics is no different than any other job site.
A presidential campaign runs like a dysfunctional workplace family on rocket fuel but contains just as many awkward relationships and odd pairings as the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin. (In a 2006 career information survey 32 percent of respondents said they had a work husband or work wife.) Many people believe George W. Bush might not have been elected were it not for his indispensable counselor Karen Hughes. Hughes went back to Texas once Bush was in the White House and Condi Rice inherited a quasi-spousal professional role. She allegedly once referred to the president as “my husb-.”
(Not all close working relationships qualify for the nickname. For example, I am having trouble applying the marital metaphor to the relationship of President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.)
But Beth Myers has been a fixture in Romney campaigns. The New York Times reports she first earned his admiration on his 2002 campaign for Massachusetts’s governor against Shannon O’Brien, when she sat in for Romney’s opponent in debate preparation. Myers, who became Romney’s chief of staff when he won, so effectively nailed O’Brien’s policy mannerisms and style that in the subsequent actual debate he smiled when the Democratic nominee gave a nearly verbatim response. Myers’s high-profile role in choosing Romney’s running mate for potential vice president was announced April 16 and displays exactly the level of confidence and faith inherent in a happy professional marriage. “I think Mitt asked me to do it because I have worked with him for 10 years and he trusts me,” Myers told The Post’s Jennifer Rubin.
Office marriages are powerfully platonic (Myers is married and has two children) and supportive. Once a “pernicious stereotype” of the secretarial pool, an office spouse typically makes work a lot more fun. She knows you better than anyone, has your back, listens to your problems, makes you laugh and gets how important you are to the operation. The office spouse often makes the difference in her colleague’s professional success or failure. Best of all, the relationship is also a companionate marriage, so, as Tom Prince wrote in GQ, you can “bring her home to your wife.”
Bonnie Goldstein works out of her house, where her husband calls her his office wife. You call follow her on Twitter @KickedByAnAngel.