James Clapper, please don’t blame your wife for making you resign as US director of national intelligence

‘I have 64 days left and I would have a hard time with my wife for anything past that’ he said. That ole’ ball and chain, eh? I feel you brother

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The Independent Online

Before he left the hearing, the little tyke made a joke in front of the house intelligence committee about his long career.

"I have 64 days left and I would have a hard time with my wife for anything past that,” he said.

That ole’ ball and chain, eh? I feel you, brother. Your wife has been that pesky, nagging woman who has begged you to stop serving your country for decades and just wants you around the house a bit more. She knows the interiors of her kitchen cupboards as well as you know the sub-factions of terrorist networks, so hell, why not make a joke at her expense. It made your government colleagues, chuckle, no doubt. You forgot to say she worked for the NSA.

The wife joke - or the wife plea, if you want to blame someone else for your retirement - is a long, sad story, and it didn’t start with Clapper.

When Donald Trump stood up at the iconic Al Smith dinner - a chance for presidential candidates to make funny, gentle jibes at each other - his biggest laugh was about Melania Trump and the fact she plagiarised Michelle Obama during her first keynote speech. A woman staffer took the blame for that one. Just FYI.

When New Hampshire governor John Sununu giggled at a Trump rally the other week about Monica Lewinsky, asking whether Bill Clinton was referring to his wife when he said “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” there was a nervous titter around the room. An arguably mild reaction from a group that normally calls for Hillary's death or imprisonment, but whatever. Sununu, the moral of the story here is to never speak your demeaning little thoughts out loud.

My comfort is that these - mostly - men are on the wrong side of history and like the dinosaurs, they will shuffle off this mortal coil. Other days, when I’m in a worse mood, I remember that by the time they are gone, I will be halfway there too.

The jokes and pointed barbs don’t seem to happen the other way round. Can you imagine Angela Merkel or Christine Lagarde leaving office with desperate pleas that their inconsolable husbands were fed up with cooking for one? When Hillary Clinton conceded the presidency, did she talk about women’s need to crack the glass ceiling, or did she focus on Bill's rambling club?

If anything, I’d imagine Clapper’s wife would find him really annoying around the house. He has spent 50 years protecting the country, and now he expects a foot rub. I don’t think so. 

What I really want to say is, thank you sir for your dedicated service. But next time you, as the director of national intelligence, want to make a joke, maybe you can repeat your own recent admission that the US is facing its highest terror threat since 9/11 - just as you’re about to leave your job - instead of blaming your wife for wanting to take a break.