Thursday, October 25, 2007

Marriages Of Political (In)Convenience?

Hey, Roger Abramson: sometimes women care about celebrity news because of the larger issues in question.

Case in point: Last night WSMV reported that Lorrie Morgan and Sammy Kershaw are getting divorced. The news comes just three business days after Kershaw lost his bid to become Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana. Coincidence? Er, maybe.

So far WSMV is the only news outlet to report on the split, and they don’t even have a link posted, so keep the salt shaker handy. But if it’s true, count me as not surprised: I seem to recall the couple headed to splitsville earlier this year, then miraculously reunited right before Kershaw announced his political aspirations this summer.

Meanwhile, across the pond French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Cecilia announced they are divorcing. The Sarkozys waited six months after the French election to end their marriage, though the union was in trouble pre-election:
The couple’s marital difficulties first became public knowledge in 2005 when Mrs Sarkozy had a relationship with Richard Attias, a public relations consultant, with whom she was photographed in New York.

Mr Sarkozy responded by having an affair with a political journalist, and they bought household goods with the apparent intention of setting up home together. However, Mr Sarkozy was soon back with his wife.

The reconcoliation barely lasted until May 2007, when Mrs.Sarkozy didn’t even bother to vote--for her husband or anyone else.

And then let’s not forget Bill-and-Hill, and all of the gossip about the state of that union.

I grant that it’s speculation to assume these were (are) marriages of political convenience, but it does have me wondering about divorce in political campaigns. I’m sensing there’s a feeling among strategists that voters think it’s okay if a candidate is divorced, as long as they are married to someone at the time of the election. Even if it means dragging out a marriage long past its expiration date, the general wisdom among the political establishment seems to be that a candidate should be married, if at all possible.

But I wonder how much any of that really matters to voters. Divorce is so common these days, and we’re already familiar with divorced politicians -- Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani and John Kerry, to name just a few.

Do voters really care about that wedding band? Are voters suspicious of an unmarried candidate? I wonder if being a bachelor really hurt Harold Ford Jr.? He certainly wouldn’t have been vulnerable to the now-famous "Call Me” ad, but then Fred Thompson was single when he was elected to the U.S. Senate.

So far, Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, is the only bachelor to be elected to the White House, (though he married while in office). I honestly wonder if strategists worry that being unmarried sends a subliminal message of some kind?

Family life is changing in modern society; people put off getting married until later in life, and those who are marreid get divorced. Is that really an issue in choosing a political candidate? Does this really matter?