Ironically, it was Hillary's husband who helped make all this possible. "Bill Clinton really altered the landscape for politicians and their marriages, starting with the Gennifer Flowers affair," she says. "There was no reason for Giuliani to keep up the fašade." If anything, Giuliani may get a boost from standing up and calling a sham a sham. "It's sad, especially for their kids," says Rivera. "But it's been obvious that this was a deeply strained relationship."
Perhaps it was the prospect of a battle with prostate cancer that inspired Rudy Giuliani to clear the decks about his personal affairs. Perhaps it was a certain "good friend" whose picture made it into the gossip pages. More likely it was the polls with a big assist from Bill Clinton. Having refused for years to discuss his seemingly distant marriage to actress and newswoman Donna Hanover, the New York mayor and not-quite U.S. Senate candidate surprised reporters Wednesday with the news that he is seeking a separation agreement from his wife. Though the announcement came just days after the New York tabloids revealed that Hizzoner was squiring around town a "gal pal" who was not his wife, it was also a matter of getting the whole matter behind him as he contemplates his likely race with declared candidate Hillary Clinton, says TIME New York correspondent Elaine Rivera. "Those photos of Giuliani with 'very good friend' Judith Nathan forced his hand," she says, "and when polls showed it didn't make a difference to New York voters, why not do it? The marriage has been in trouble for a long time."