U.S. Sen. John Ensign wants people to learn two things from his regrettable affair: "One is, don’t do it. Second, if it does happen, it doesn’t have to ruin your marriage. You can work things out."
It took Ensign months to rebuild his marriage with his wife, Darlene, after the eight-month affair he had with her best friend, Cindy Hampton. The Ensigns went through counseling, and now he says their marriage is stronger than ever.
"I appreciate her a lot more. We’re just learning to give a little more to each other," Ensign told me Wednesday. "We’re trying to make sure we’re meeting each other’s needs."
But his decision to call a halt to his re-election campaign after four months seems to have made his wife happy. Throughout Monday’s news conference, she was all smiles, while he looked pained and distressed.
"If I was single, I’d have gone for it," Ensign said. "I don’t mind the underdog role."
He recalled that when he ran for the House in 1994, in his first poll against Rep. Jim Bilbray, he was almost 40 points down. ”I was naïve enough to think I could win.”
And he did. Four years later, he challenged Sen. Harry Reid and lost by 428 votes.
That time, he went back to being a veterinarian. He doesn’t know if that’s what he’ll do when his term ends in 21 months.
My best guess: He won’t go back to fixing dogs and cats. He’s tasted the power and the glory of the Senate. Cats and dogs won’t cut it anymore. Plus, he has all those really nice suits that won’t appear to advantage covered with cat hair. I know.