Carol Platt Liebau

Sunday, October 24, 2004

There are a couple of harsh stories about Teresa Heinz Kerry floating around this morning here and here.

It does seem fair to ask whether the American people really want someone like this representing our country, both at home and abroad, as First Lady.

A lot of people believe that none of us have any business discussing potential First Ladies (including a lot of peole I respect, like Hugh Hewitt, who has said he tries to keep discussion of candidates' wives to a minimum on his radio show). But aside from engaging in petty swipes about the wives' clothes/looks/weight, I think they're a pretty important subject.

Maybe I'm biased because I'm a wife myself, but wives play an important role in men's life. The attributes of a spouse tell you what qualities are important to the person they're married to -- and, perhaps, what qualities are lacking, as many marriages do have a strong aspect of complementarity. And a couple's relationship can have a huge impact on the success of a presidency -- just ask Bill and Hillary Clinton. Their marital drama ended up infecting the whole country, and we're still living with it now, in the shape of her senate seat from New York.

While it's cheap and petty to be snooping around any couple's bedroom door, when there's a clear sense of how a relationship operates -- as there is with President and Mrs. Bush -- it's reassuring. When there's not -- as with the Heinz Kerrys (or one suspects that perhaps neither of them is there for entirely the right reasons) -- it adds to a sense of discomfort about the candidate himself.

It's not that Kerry would necessarily be taking marching orders from his wife as President. After all, if he were elected, he would be the powerful one, and able to draw a healthy income on his own after he left office. No, what seems more likely to happen would be a definite shift in marital roles; he, formerly deferential, would be released from the obligation to keep her happy in order to get the bills paid. She, formerly deferred to, could end up feeling less "attended to" than she prefers. Every marriage works on its own internal dynamics, and when those are upended, trouble can result. The unfortunate thing is that when there's trouble in The White House, pretty soon all of us have to hear about it, live through it, and potentially be impacted by it (in the shape of a distracted President or a troublesome First Lady), too.

All this is highly speculative, of course. Even so, I'm not up for any more East Wing dramas. Eight years of the Clintons were enough, thank you.


Blogger Joe Rose said...

Thoughtful remarks. Teresa's potentail conflicts of business interests alone are disqualifying not to mention her being a NUT!

8:26 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

it's the nut part that keeps me up at night.

8:50 PM  

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