Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The First Lady Factor

After reading this piece by Michelle Malkin, I was almost ready to feel sorry for Teresa Heinz-Kerry.

But I got over it.

My first impressions of Teresa Heinz-Kerry were formed when I read this, an account of a Kerry/MoveOn House Party from the official John Kerry blog. (What? An official connection between MoveOn and John Kerry? It can't be.)

When Teresa Heinz-Kerry arrived, she handed me a pin that read in the center: “Asses of Evil” with “Bush”, “Cheney”, “Rumsfeld” and “Ashcroft” surrounding it. She met, greeted and talked to a jam-packed room of Kerry supporters and others who came for the MoveOn documentary. Many were curious, others undecided, or belonging to other candidate camps.

Teresa talked about her life as the daughter of a physician in Africa, about life during a repressive regime, to life inside Washington DC, and a brief intimate glimpse into her courtship with John. She told a rapt crowd about . . .

. . . blah blah blah. The rest isn't important, except for the bit about how they sold “Condoleezza Rice Crispies Bars” and “No Child Left Behind Chocolate Chip Cookies” to raise money. Is it just me or is there something subtlely racist about that?

Since I first read that piece, Teresa Heinz-Kerry has seemingly done everything possible to convince me that she lacks class. Telling a reporter to "Shove it" and saying that Bush supporters want "four more years of hell" only further demonstrated just how different Ms. Heinz-Kerry is from Laura Bush.

Today's USA Today had articles featuring both Teresa Heinz-Kerry and Laura Bush, and the blogosphere is abuzz with Teresa's comment that she didn't know if Laura Bush ever had a "real job." I guess I glossed over that. What really caught my eye was the accompanying poll that showed favorable/unfavorable ratings for the two women.

40% of those polled viewed Teresa favorably, while 34% viewed her unfavorably. But 74% viewed Laura Bush favorably compared to onlly 16% who viewed her unfavorably. USA Today's conclusion is that the public favors a "traditional non-working first lady."

Or maybe it has nothing to do with whether Laura is "traditional." Could it be that Teresa's behavior during this campaign has simply turned people off? And that in comparison with Teresa (and probably the public's memories of Hillary Clinton as first lady) Laura Bush gets very high marks for having class?

Teresa has apologized for her remarks, and Laura Bush, classy as always, says she wasn't offended by the initial remark.

But in a race this close (or so they say) the public's perceptions of the candidates' wives may be a major factor. (Consider also the effect Elizabeth Edwards' remarks about Lynne Cheney's relationship with her daughter may have on the vote.)

When George Bush wins on November 2nd, he should know that his wife contributed greatly to that victory.

In fact, I'm sure he knows.


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