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I'm a Minnesota Girl, living in the south. I tell my friends I try not to talk and think like a Yankee, but sometimes I slip up!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Leave out the wives....


Susan Estrich, political columnist, had the right idea when she posted:

"A majority of Americans are clearly eager to see a new man at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., but I'd be surprised if the numbers were even close in terms of replacing the first lady. George Bush may have worn out his welcome, but Laura Bush continues to show the tact, decency and good judgment that have made her a popular and rarely criticized first lady. Michelle Obama, guest hosting on "The View," said she was "touched" by the first lady's defense of her and was taking some "cues" from the current inhabitant of the White House on how to succeed in the role she hopes to assume. Cindy McCain would do well to follow Laura Bush's lead, as well.

Michelle Obama gave ammunition to her husband's opponents with her comments at that rally in Wisconsin. But they need to think twice before they use it. Turning the wives into the issue in this campaign is a strategy that will leave everyone covered with mud for no good reason.

We have been to this movie before. In 1992, Hillary Clinton, then in headbands, was the object of more criticism than her husband. From her looks to her law practice to her loyalty to her husband, the former first lady had a bull's-eye on her back, made worse, of course, by her version of the patriotism comments: the explanation that she could have stayed home baking chocolate chip cookies all day but chose to practice law instead, which led to questions about possible conflicts of interest, given that her husband was the governor of the state. At the time, Hillary described herself as a "transitional figure," but it is easy to see Michelle Obama as Hillary without the headband, the strong, powerful, well-educated and ambitious wife of the candidate who some people, at least, find more threatening and less likable than they do the candidate himself. At the end of the day, the point is: So what? People don't vote for vice president, and they don't vote for first lady. If they did, Gerald Ford couldn't have lost, and Ronald Reagan couldn't have won. If the '92 election had been a referendum on who should be first lady instead of who should be president, Barbara Bush would have won it for her team in a walk."


Enough about Cindy and Michelle, and I really don't give a damn about the black and white dress. Let's talk issues. (PS, I would've voted for Betty Ford, Barbara Bush, Liddy Dole, Elizabeth Edwards or Laura. Funny, they all seemed worthy of trust. Tipper left me cold. Teresa Heinz? (nee Kerry)... PULEEZE. -- but all that is machts nichts. How good your 1st Spouse is does not carve you a place in history.)

6 comments:

Pam said...

I couldn't agree more! Enough already with the wives!

I have to keep reminding myself that with 24-hour Cable news and endless hours to fill, this fixation on the wives is not surprising.

I'm also tired of the quibbling over what surrogate said what or when. This is nitpicking around the edges or what really matters.

We're not electing the surrogates, either.

Oh, and let's not leave out the obsession about Hillary campaigning with Obama or when or if Bill will.....sheeh! WHO CARES???!!!???

OK, now I'll calm down. :)

Serena Joy said...

I agree 100% with your assessment of the ladies, past and present. The wives aren't running, although Michelle Obama might run a pretty good campaign.:)

Bob said...

Sorry but I believe the wives are part of the package. If I were running for pres, although I would try to protect my wife, I would have to know that she would be the subject of some scrutiny. Likewise, if she were running for POTUS, I would likewise understand I would have to develop a thick hide. This is one of many reasons that neither my lovely wife nor I will be seeking the highest office in the land. We both get our feelings hurt too easily.

Kelly said...

I have to agree with Bob to a certain extent. No, the spouses aren't "on" the ticket, but they are in the spotlight along with them and DO influence them somewhat.

I haven't paid enough attention to know what I really think of either spouse in this campaign yet.

Algernon said...

I don't vote for a royal family. I vote for an executive who, I hope, will assemble a good professional team for his or her cabinet and proceed to make good decisions about policy.

The focus on First Ladies (and the public role they are expected, without question, to play) is for my taste a distraction and a childish spectacle.

That said, I found the 1992 backlash against Hillary Rodham Clinton interesting, as I do the 2008 flap over Michelle Obama, because of the pushback against smart, educated, strongly independent females who aren't afraid to express critical opinions about society, be it the role of a wife or the inspiration for patriotism.

Returning to what is really important, however, in this election - RETURN TO CONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT - I get angry when the press follows these content-free sidebars.

Kelly said...

Ah, but Algernon... the danger lies in how the Constitution is "interpreted"!

Cindy McCain graces the cover of this week's Newsweek (which arrived in my mailbox this afternoon), so I now know a little more about her.