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Political Spouses: Is All Fair in Love, War, and…Politics?

April 13, 2012

Hillary Rosen is in hot water, understandable so.  She attacked Ann Romney, whom she likely has never met, for ‘not having worked a day in her life.’  The mother of five responded quickly, via Twitter, as did the First Lady and the President himself.  This is as it should be, since spouses are still private citizens, and ought not to be, unless they inject themselves into partisan politics and policy-making (as Hillary Clinton was wont to do), they should remain off-limits.  It may be acceptable, and ought to be assumed, that a spouse will support the candidate, perhaps even raise money on the rubber-chicken circuit, serve as a good-will ambassador to groups aligned with his/her interests, et cetera.  This ought to be viewed in the light of acceptable, basically non-partisan activity.  Unless a candidate’s spouse chooses, knowingly, to enter the arena, they ought not to be regarded as ‘fair game.’

Our era is marked by a ‘politics of personal destruction’ that takes no prisoners, knows no boundaries, and which regards little, if anything, as being sacred.  Given the ongoing descent into politically-motivated ugliness, charges and counter-charges, and the mounting racial tension surrounding the shooting of Treyvon Martin, it is reassuring to see this incident result in a bipartisan rebuke to the instigator of it.  As was the case after the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords led some commentators to blame talk radio or Sarah Palin for the incident, the President has chosen to use his office to promote civility.  While this has not always been the base, it is welcome, regardless of the reasons that may have motivated it.

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