Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

It's Obama and McCain Who Are Running - Not Their Wives

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

It's Obama and McCain Who Are Running - Not Their Wives

Article excerpt

Politicians involve their spouses unnecessarily in campaigns with increasing and disturbing regularity.

At the recent political conventions, both John McCain and Barack Obama had their wives give speeches in very prominent time slots.

That's right, during the valuable air time supposed to be used by the party to present their platform to the American people, spouses vouched for their husbands.

Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain are granting much-sough-after interviews left and right, and at times, the focus on them has eclipsed that of the candidates themselves.

Just this month Cindy McCain granted an interview to CBS' Katie Couric. Among other things, Ms. Couric asked for Mrs. McCain's opinions regarding abortion, Roe v Wade, the suitability of creationism as a topic in schools, and her husband's selection of Sarah Palin as his VP.

Michelle Obama has appeared on The View and also been interviewed by Couric, as well as by Larry King, Robin Roberts, and Ellen Degeneres.

Yes, it's fascinating to get the inside scoop on the possible next first lady, but what do their responses have to do with the campaign?

Our sense of proportion is off. A politician's spouse should be a negligible factor. To be sure, the duties of presidential wives have come a long way from looking pretty at ceremonial dinners.

But by letting ourselves be taken in by the red herring of what Michelle and Cindy think, we are turning elections into popularity contests. We move away from substance and toward showmanship.

The more people are influenced by the spouse of a politician, the less objective their thinking must be. If objectivity regarding politicians is decreasing, then so is our ability to choose leaders whose policies and beliefs are consistent with our best interests.

I assume that politicians, like other professionals, do not take marching orders from their spouses. …

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