Politics and family...do they mix? Lately there have been a few rumblings in the 2008 Presidential contest and this seems to boil down to that ever present question: Is a candidate's personal life of concern to voters? We saw it a bit in 2000, when George Bush sternly warned reporters to keep their mitts off his daughters, and for the most part they have. So it's no surprise to see similar things with the latest candidates.
First, we have Michelle Obama, who has come out of her shell lately, talking about how much they value traditional family values and how much emphasis she and her husband place on their family. She added: "if you can't run your own house, you can't run the White House." Take that Hillary. Or was she jabbing at Guiliani?
Speaking of Rudy, at the latest GOP debate he got a little miffed when a voter asked how he'd expect the American people to give him loyal fellowship if he was having a hard time getting it from his own family. Guiliani's response sounded like a schoolyard bully who'd just been punched in the stomach: "The best thing I can say is kind of leave my family alone, just like I'll leave your family alone." Wow. I think someone just struck a nerve with Rudy.
So is a candidate's family off-limits? To a certain extent, yes. Sometimes being decent means leaving them alone. Take Al Gore's son, for example. He is struggling with addiction and severe legal problems. Let the family deal with it. No need to smear. No need to ask questions. This kid has problems, what else is there to report?
But, do the voters have a right to know what's going on with Rudy and his kids? And why did Hillary not leave Bill? The latter brings in a question of character. Did she stay with him because she adamantly opposes divorce? Or to spare Chelsea? Or, did she stick with him because it would help her White House chances in the long run? I think these are legitimate questions and perhaps Hillary would be better served to answer them.
As for Rudy, all this secrecy is hurting him. What's going on with his kids? His former wives? I don't think people are out of line asking. And why can't Rudy give at least something resembling an explanation. "My kids and I often don't see eye to eye, and divorces hardly help."
That's it. Would anyone have trouble understanding that? No, of course not. We all have interesting family dynamics we deal with. Rudy's mysterious secrecy is hurting him in the eyes of the conservative base, and don't think for a second the Dems (especially Hillary) aren't itching to exploit that as much as the GOP is chomping at the bit to get at Hillary. It should be an interesting campaign.