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Elin Woods' absence speaks volumes

By Lisa Bloom, CNN Legal Analyst
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tiger Woods' wife Elin did not appear with him at his apology Friday
  • Lisa Bloom commends women who refuse to appear with unfaithful husbands
  • She says Tiger Woods said all the right things and appeared sincere
  • Bloom: He also should have apologized to the other women

Editor's note: Lisa Bloom, a CNN legal analyst, is managing partner, TheBloomFirm.com.

(CNN) -- The best part of Tiger Woods' appearance Friday was not that he showed up and apologized, but that someone else didn't show up -- Tiger's wife, Elin Woods.

Have we finally turned the corner into a new era of dignity for wives of unfaithful public figures? Gone are the days when Silda Spitzer and Dena McGreevey, wives of former New York and New Jersey philandering governors Eliot Spitzer and Jim McGreevey, stood mutely by their men, Stepford-wife gazes fixed on their faces, while their husbands took to the microphones and publicly humiliated them. (To be fair, they may have been more shocked than anything else.)

Elin Woods joins the more recent and growing list -- Elizabeth Edwards, Jenny Sanford -- who stand out for not standing by their husbands' public confessionals. Famous wives are public figures themselves, however reluctantly, and serve as role models for girls and women who watch their moves carefully.

Elin's absence says this: I am not a doormat. Nor should you be. She may forgive, or not; she may stay, or not. That's her private business. But she refused to be part of the public spectacle, and she forced Tiger to stand alone to face the music, with his mother as the only immediate family member in the room. He came and left the press conference a solitary figure. And that is as it should be.

As for what did happen: how'd Tiger do?

Surprise, surprise: To me, the speech was a home run. Or in golf terms: a hole-in-one. I can't think of another time when I've seen a major celebrity truly appear to accept personal responsibility for irresponsible behavior. Over and over again, Tiger emphasized that he was the wrongdoer, that his acts were his responsibility alone, and that only he was to blame. He gets it.

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As a cynic who's seen too many scripted and spun press conferences over the years, I expected to roll my eyes at Tiger's press conference. And yes, Tiger read from prepared pages -- prepared by whom, we must wonder: himself? Elin? lawyers? Skilled publicists? Therapists? Taking no questions, he didn't ad lib even a single word, as far as I could tell. But he's not a trained public speaker, nor an actor. He's a golfer. Sticking to the speech is understandable. Surely a stint on Oprah's couch will come.

I raised my kids not to waste my time with phony apologies. If you're throwing out a fake "sor-ree!" or worse, the hollow "if you think I did something wrong, I'm sorry," save your breath. I'm tough. I have rules about this. An apology must have three parts: (1) honestly cop to what you did; (2) explain why it was wrong; and (3) give me your action plan to show it's not going to happen again.

I give Tiger high marks for hitting all these points. He admitted multiple affairs. His behavior caused great pain to his family, friends, staff, and fans. And he has spent 45 days in inpatient treatment, with more to come, and renewed his Buddhist faith, to strengthen his resolve to live a life of integrity.

Monumentally, Tiger acknowledged that his core problem was an unhealthy sense of entitlement. Thanks to obscene amounts of money and fame, Tiger admitted that he just didn't think the rules applied to him.

As a television commentator, I spend my days interacting with A-, B- and even D-listers who are abusive to their staffers and families, make diva-like demands, and pitch temper tantrums over perceived slights. It's repulsive. Tiger's contrite words should be required reading for this crowd, and the implosion of his life a cautionary tale.

There was just one missing piece. Profuse apologies went to his wife, his family, his foundation, and his fans. Noticeably absent were apologies to the "other women" with whom he'd had affairs -- some for as long as three years, allegedly.

He'd made false promises to some of them, they claim, and one was even allegedly impregnated by him. (Full disclosure: my mother, Gloria Allred, represents two alleged mistresses.) These women may have just been sex objects to him, but they are human beings also hurt by his actions, and also deserving of an apology. Why were they left out? Are they still just playthings in his eyes?

In a drab, tie-less, ill-fitting suit, looking exhausted, Tiger looked like he just got out of jail. He hugged his mother like he never wanted to let her go. He seems to know how much work he still has to do to become a man of integrity and decency, and that only his actions, not his words, will demonstrate whether he will become that man. He's off to a hopeful start.

The opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of Lisa Bloom.