Ronald and Nancy ReaganIt has become a sort of unspoken rule that we are not supposed to care about nor question the spouse of a Presidential candidate. While I do believe they shouldn't be demonized nor raked over the coals due to the choices of their husbands, they can't totally be discounted no matter how politically correct it is to pretend to do so. To completely discount them flies in the face of basic human nature.
Acting as if a spouse is completely irrelevant? It's as if everyone forgets how marriage works! Sure, sometimes one may want to forget how marriage works on a Sunday when your husband is passing his fourth hour laying on the couch watching some sporty thingy, but still. Basic human nature as well as the nature of marriage tells us something: We should assume that a candidate's spouse, a potential future First Lady, has her husband's ears more than his political advisers. Because they usually do.
As such, her beliefs and opinions matter as she will be offering said opinions and beliefs to her husband on a regular -- and sometimes nagging, bless our hearts -- basis. Hello, pillow talk! That's a thing for a reason and it's something of which we should be aware. My personal like or dislike of a candidate's spouse isn't a deal breaker by any means, of course, but it isn't out of the realm of reason to make it at least a secondary consideration.
Evidently, however, we are only allowed to question Republican candidate's spouses. The Left, including Amanda Marcotte writing at Slate, is currently trying to demonize Mrs. Santorum by having a fit of the vapors over the fact that in her 20s, she -- gasp -- lived with a man out of wedlock. Wait, what? Someone was different in their 20s than they are today? Inconceivable! Dear Amanda Marcotte: it's a little something called personal growth, which is an attribute to most sane people. I know you know nothing about that, being stuck frozen in time as a 15-year-old, but most people actually change and grow with age and wisdom.
See, I'd rather have someone who has grown as a person and who will offer her husband loving, but not paranoid delusional, support. I prefer someone unlike Michelle Obama, who is only proud of America when they think her husband is super awesome. And who, according even to the very Liberal Maureen Dowd of The New York Times, believes in only one kind of American Exceptionalism: "their own."
Nancy Reagan was incessantly demonized, yet she was exactly what a First Lady should be. She was a wonderfully protective and supportive wife who loved her husband with all her heart, and he her. This partnership and unwavering support helped make President Ronald Reagan the amazing leader, and man, that he was. She loves America, and it showed. She believed her husband was serving his country, and not the other way around.
Callista Gingrich seems to have similar qualities and a similar effect on her husband. Whatever one feels for her personally, by all accounts and by every indication, she strengthens Speaker Gingrich. He has been tempered with age and wisdom, but also by her love and support.
That is the role a candidate's spouse should play. And, if she does, she makes her husband stronger and a better leader. See a great, strong man? There's an even greater and an even stronger woman pillow talking in his ear.
This post is part of a weekly conversation with our 5 Moms Matter 2012 political bloggers. Read the original question and find links to all their responses here: In a Presidential Election, Do Spouses Matter?
Image via Classic Film Scans/Flickr