by John Hawkins | August 24, 2007 6:58 am
The 2008 election season has been a bit short on dramatics so far. We’ve had lots of mostly dull debates, not a single candidate has been caught making out on a yacht with his mistress, and hordes of third rate candidates with no chance to ever get elected, are refusing to get off the stage — until they’ve checked every couch in their campaign headquarters for enough change to keep them going for another week or two.
However, there has been one new weapon-of-choice and/or moving target (depending on the party) added to the overly long battle royale that is the 2008 campaign: the wives.
It’s not that the better halves of the presidential candidates haven’t played a significant role in campaigns before. For example, who could forget Hillary Clinton helping to save her husband’s campaign by saying, “I’m not sitting here, some little woman standing by her man,” as she was confronted about the latest in a string of humiliating affairs that Bill had engaged in back in 1992?
However, this time around, the mainstream media has unleashed pre-emptive strikes at the two Republican front-runners’ wives even though neither of those two women has played a significant public role in her husband’s campaign.
Judith Giuliani, who, to be fair, isn’t the most sympathetic character, has been publicly cut to ribbons, most notably in Vanity Fair, with the sort of hatchet job that would lead to scathing editorials in newspapers across the country if it was aimed at Elizabeth Edwards or Michelle Obama.
Then there’s Jeri Thompson, an accomplished professional woman, who has been portrayed in the press as an empty-headed trophy wife that Fred Thompson married because she’s stacked and younger than he is. Would you ever see these sort of crude insinuations about the wife of any of the top tier Democratic candidates in the mainstream media?
Of course not and the Democratic candidates are exploiting the protected status of their wives to the max this time around. You see, as political campaigns have become more and more competitive, the candidates have become accustomed to using any and every tactic that may give them an edge. That’s where the wives come in. It’s generally considered to be bad manners to attack the family of a candidate. So, if you send your wife out to savage your opponents, you can then turn right around and complain that they’re “attacking my family,” if they try to respond. What better spokesman could any candidate have than one that it’s considered bad manners to fire back at?
Nobody has taken advantage of this more than John Edwards, whose unpleasant, querulous wife Elizabeth has attacked everyone from Hillary Clinton to Ann Coulter on his behalf when she’s not insulting her less wealthy neighbors.
Moreover, in what may be the most cynical and grotesque maneuver of the campaign up to this point, John Edwards invited people on his website to send sympathy emails to his family because of Elizabeth’s cancer. Nothing “cynical and grotesque” so far, right? I mean, how could anyone not feel sympathy for the poor woman after finding out that she has incurable cancer? However, what the well wishers to the Edwards family didn’t know was that everyone who sent a sympathy email was getting his name added to the campaign’s online e-mail database so that he could be solicited for campaign contributions. Class, thy name is not John Edwards.
Along those same lines, if the mainstream press can write articles that cast aspersions on Judith Giuliani’s shopping habits and Jeri Thompson’s credit record, when can we get a few more articles on the bizarre sham that is the Clintons’ marriage? Here we have two people who got married and yet, one of them never stopped dating. What does that say about Hillary Clinton and her worthiness of being elected President? Wasn’t Michelle Obama right when she said, perhaps about Hillary, perhaps not, “(I)f you can’t run your own house, you certainly can’t run the White House.”
Oh, but people aren’t supposed to bring that up because Hillary is some sort of groundbreaking example for women to emulate? Please. An example of what? A woman who rode her philandering husband’s coattails to success in politics and then stood by helplessly and watched as he cheated on her again and again and again while she did nothing about it because it might hurt her political career? What message does that send to young women? Hillary deserves her success at politics about as much as Anna Nicole Smith deserved the money that was willed to her when her 90 year-old husband died — but at least Anna Nicole Smith slept with her old man, which is more than can probably be said of Hillary in the last few years.
Is it unfair to bring Hillary’s bizarre marriage into the equation or to nail the Silky Pony for letting his wife wear the pants in the family? It’s at least as fair as it is for the media to batter Jeri Thompson and Judith Giuliani and besides, if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the political kitchen. If Elizabeth Edwards and Bill Clinton are going to be used as attack donkeys for their spouses while their media allies publicly nose around in the intimate details of the Republican candidates’ marriages, then the “shrew,” the “glacier,” and their marriages should be considered fair game in the political arena as well.
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