Friday, March 09, 2007

Focus on the family -- but how much?

As the presidential campaign heats up more than a year and a half away from Election Day, we continue to see extensive media coverage of the tumultuous personal lives of Hillary Clinton, Newt Gingrich, Rudolph Giuliani, John McCain, and a host of other presidential candidates. Idle curiosity partially explains this trend, but at the root of the whole spectacle is the underlying assumption that, at least when viewed in a vacuum devoid of platforms, people with a history of instability at home tend to be less desirable for the job than people with one steady marriage.

Like it or not, politicians must accept that their personal lives will become open books whenever they seek the White House in the era of the 24-hour news cycle. Likewise, what a person has done in the past often is a good indication of the kind of things that person will do in the future. Still, a comment I stumbled across today at Lawyers, Guns, and Money offers some food for thought:

"I think it's safe to say that anyone who puts in the time and effort it takes to be as successful in politics, law, or whatever, to get to the point where you're a serious candidate for president, or you're nominated for a [S]upreme [C]ourt position, isn't a family person. They may love their spouses and children, but they ain't family people. If they were, they'd have focused on their families, and never reached the levels they have in their careers. Which is not to say that they're bad people, of course. Just not family people."

So is the public placing too much stock in candidates' home lives? Too little? Just enough?


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