The EFM Feature

Good grief, Charles! I cannot believe you’re driving me to defend the NYT. While I love your chivalry, candidates must consider how the public perceives their spouses. When Elizabeth Edwards had a recurrence of cancer, everyone wondered how it would effect John’s campaign. After the third Mrs. Giuiliani caressed the cheek of Rudy during Barbara Walter’s special, his handlers rushed out the next day to assure voters she wouldn’t have undue influence. Will Bill Clinton overshadow his wife, or will he be an asset?
Spouses matter–it’s just the way it is in politics. (And in life for that matter.) Voters rightly take into account a myriad of clues that point to a candidate’s character–whom a person chooses to marry is One Big Clue.
For the record, I’m not saying Mrs. Thompson is guilty of trying to get media attention or that she somehow “brought this upon herself.” She may be a lovely person, and probably is. However, the fact that the grandfatherly Fred married her says something about him.
And since Fred refuses to let the clarifying light of a campaign shine on him, the public is taking every clue it can get.

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