Friday, February 29, 2008

Enough from Campaign Spouses!

I suspect I'm in the company of a huge segment of the voters who have had it up to here with the spouses and other kinfolks of the candidates for office constantly appearing in the media – print and electronic – for whatever reasons the candidates have in mind. These people are not running for office, mouth the expected accolades and platitudes, and generally mess up the whole process. The ladies who are good-looking may add some charm in the minds of some, but they appear more to this corner as window-dressing and being manipulated.

To his credit, Huckabee hasn't paraded his wife before the media as did John Edwards and Giuliani. Clinton, Obama, and McCain have exploited their spouses to a degree that's disgusting. The spouses have nothing to say that sheds much light on the temperament or the philosophies of the candidates for the simple reason that they're as scripted as the candidates are. I'm not interested in what Bill Clinton thinks or in what Michelle Obama has to offer, often with a stridence that makes one wonder who calls the campaign shots in that family…either family. Ms. McCain keeps a much lower profile, thankfully, but she doesn't need to be a stand-in or standout for her husband.

Indeed, these proxy-campaign kin can be detriments to campaigns. Bill Clinton was no help in South Carolina or anywhere else when he called Obama's self-stated Iraq-war stance(s) a "fairytale," even if it has been. That stirred African Americans for Obama into dealing the race-card, the last thing any campaign needs. Hillary Clinton had already stirred that crowd by stating quite accurately that President Lyndon Johnson had worked in tandem with Martin Luther King, Jr in bringing off the civil rights legislation of the 60s.

Nor is hubby Bill any help when he simply just appears anywhere, since his presence reminds everyone of Hillary Clinton's cuckolding-in-reverse, not to mention the telephone sex, blue dress and all the rest – things occasioning most women to "throw the bum out." This goes to the heart of her philosophy vis-à-vis power-at-any-price, even suffering for it through thorough and disgusting humiliation.

Michelle Obama did her husband no favors when she claimed that only now as she approaches middle-age can she take pride in this country…about as unpatriotic a statement as can be imagined, especially when made in such a self-serving way by one who has been as privileged and wealth-gathering as both of the Obamas have been. Nor has her stridence on the stump been helpful, though not much more intense than that of Hillary Clinton in her stump appearances. The two of them cause men to shudder and be turned-off when they act as proverbial fishwives.

Much has been made lately by parts of a thesis Michelle Obama wrote when she was a student at Princeton. Here is the setup, according to Jeffrey Ressner of the Web-site POLITICO (Feb.22): "Just under 90 alums responded to the questionnaires (for a response rate of approximately 22 percent) and the conclusions were not what she expected." Here is Ms. Obama's statement/conclusion: "I hoped that these findings would help me conclude that despite the high degree of identification with whites as a result of the educational and occupational path that black Princeton alumni follow, the alumni would still maintain a certain level of identification with the black community. However, these findings do not support this possibility."

Ms. Obama had sent out questionnaires to some 400 black alums "requesting the respondents define the amount of time and 'comfort' level spent interacting with blacks and whites before they attended the school, as well as during and after their University years," according to Ressner. Apparently she was disappointed that the respondents had moved away from provincialism and opted to enter the mainstream of American life and be a part of the wider community, not just return to their ethnic group, or, perhaps more fairly, at least "still maintain a certain level of identification with the black community."

Okay…an adult shouldn't be held accountable for something done or said as a college student, but when what she said then is coupled with what she said just the other day, one has to conclude that she sees two Americas race-wise and that her husband is proof of which one is superior since his entry into presidential politics has constituted the first time she can be proud of the nation that virtually guarantees the safety in this world of whole countries, not to mention her own, and all of that without the benefit of Barack Obama.

This campaign would be better off if the spouses were asked to go home and do what they normally would be doing instead of gallivanting around the nation and making campaign speeches. Indeed, both Obama and Clinton, at least, might prefer their departures at this point, when their spouses have done enough to hurt their images. Ms. McCain has been smart enough to do no damage and, indeed, seems to prefer being somewhere else.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

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