Can we please retire the "spend more time with the family" explanation for political resignations? This is just stupid. The phrase is clearly just used as a shorthand for "scandal we'd rather not mention." So what's the point? The phrase is a joke, nobody believes it, and it only makes the rumor mongering more intense.
Hell, it's one thing when they use this excuse when they've got young children. But seeing as how it looks like both of Lott's kids have children of their own, I'm guessing they're not so young. This was also the same excuse given by Karl Rove, even though his only son was in college at the time. Interestingly, Slate's John Dickerson, who wrote a piece in September telling Hillary to change her laugh for political reasons, informed us in April 2002 that Karen Hughes' exile to Texas really was for family reasons because it "rang true for reporters." I guess her family became less important in 2004, when she went back to work for Bush's re-election campaign.
Do I have some better substitute for what they should say? I don't know. On the one hand, if you're resigning for a specific scandal and people are just about to find out what the scandal is, it seems you might as well just go with the scandal. It's not as if a resigner's supporters ever use the "No, it really is for family reasons" as a defense. But unfortunately in life, it often is better to not admit to wrongdoing, even if you have nothing better to say. I actually think the truth is often a much better option than people realize, as they reflexively go with denials. But I guess it's easier for these people to always deny everything than to try to figure out when the truth is better.
But whatever the case, the Family excuse needs to go. It makes the person look silly and insults our intelligence. Karen Hughes apparently made it work, but I think that was just part of the post-9/11 fantasyworld that has now worn off. I think a "I'm just sick of Washington" excuse would work better, and a "reporters are too relentless in their personal attacks" might really work well. Even a plea of too much stress wouldn't be bad. But the family dodge has got to go.