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The Collective
Monday, June 4, 2007
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Beldar noted my post on Fred Thompson and his wife from last night and dubbed it “mildly gossipy” (which is better than what he called some of the other posts he found in the ‘Sphere).

I suppose that “mildly gossipy” is fair, but I actually had a real point, that perhaps I didn’t make clear: there is a lot of buzz about Thompson and a lot of people tossing their support his way, but really the public (even the engaged public) know very little about Thompson (as George Will said on This Week yesterday morning, Thompson is currently a political Rorschach Test-people see in him what they want to see). For example, I had no idea of his marital status until last night when I saw the post from Newshoggers.

Beyond that, and why I posed the question, in primary races wherein a few percentage points here or there can be a very big deal, the personal lives of candidates, and the way that they are perceived by a specific, often quite small, segment of the selectorate (i.e., those who vote in party primaries) can be very, very important.

As such, it is not unfair to ask if some very conservative primary voters might be taken aback by a potential First Lady 25+ years younger than her husband-especially if some perceive her as a “trophy wife.”

Given the issue of marriage and families in the GOP, this strikes me as a legitimate question when assessing the field.

And, I would note, Thompson isn’t the only GOP candidate with questionable marital circumstances-he is just the one who has the wife who by her very appearance has the chance to automatically raise questions. (One does not, seeing Cindy McCain, for example, automatically think “second wife”). In our very visual world that, too, is a legitimate issue when assessing voter behavior.

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Filed under: US Politics, 2008 Campaign | |

8 Comments

  1. Hi Steven,

    I’ve been updating that post of Libby’s during the day. The most recent points out that, in all fairness, Kuchinich’s beautiful redhead wife is much younger than he is too. However, you’re right - the GOP has in the past made far more political hay out of the issue of marriage and families.

    Regards, Cernig @ Newshoggers

    Comment by Cernig — Monday, June 4, 2007 @ 7:14 pm

  2. Of course, Kucinich isn’t a frontrunner and more on point, I think that this is his first wife.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Monday, June 4, 2007 @ 7:47 pm

  3. Dr. Taylor, thanks for leaving the gracious comment on my blog, and for the link and the trackback from this new post here. Your points are fair ones, and I’d characterize my own post as “mildly gossipy” too. I’m still learning about Sen. Thompson, too, which is why I haven’t endorsed him or any other candidate yet, and why I described myself (in a post over the past weekend about Rudy Giuliani) as “flirting with Fred.” I also agree that it’s a visual world — that’s precisely why I tracked down and posted several photographs of Sen. Thompson and spouse on my blog.

    Comment by Beldar — Monday, June 4, 2007 @ 7:50 pm

  4. Beldar,

    Thanks for the note (and link). You are right-the whole thing is “mildly gossipy” so no offense taken. Indeed, your post prompted me to say a few things that I had already been thinking about,

    Cheers,

    S

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Monday, June 4, 2007 @ 7:56 pm

  5. Not too long ago, I would have agreed that Jeri Thompson would be a potential liability (as unfair as it may be to her) to Fred Thompson. However, if Bill Clinton did anything, he proved that Americans aren’t quite as rigid about a politician’s sex life as they used to be. It could hurt if just because, to repeat a previous comment, some Republicans have made private morality into such a big issue. However, Thompson, while he did investigate several Clinton scandals as chairman of Government Oversight, was never one of the leaders on the whole Lewinsky thing so his private life will probably do less damage to him than it could do to someone like, say, Newt Gingrich.

    Comment by Jeff Ellis — Monday, June 4, 2007 @ 9:39 pm

  6. Fred Thompson knows how to pick ‘em. Lorrie Morgan was quite easy on the eyes, too.

    As for Dennis the Tinfoiled Menace, with Elizabeth he’s actually on wife #3, and what’s more, there’s an even bigger age difference between the two of them — 31 years — than between Fred Thompson and his wife Jeri. But she’ll never be counted as a trophy-wife because (a) she’s not blonde, (b) she’s British, and (c) she doesn’t dress like the wife of an actor.

    Comment by Matthew J. Stinson — Tuesday, June 5, 2007 @ 10:12 am

  7. I stand corrected on Kuchinich. For some reason I thought she was his first wife.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Tuesday, June 5, 2007 @ 10:21 am

  8. […] It is one thing to speculate about whether the age differential between Thompson and his wife might have electoral consequences. […]

    Pingback by PoliBlog ™: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » Scarborough Insults Jeri Kehn Thompson — Tuesday, June 5, 2007 @ 1:16 pm

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