Leslie Marshall and Janine Turner appear on Fox News with Bill O’Reilly to discuss whether or not political spouses are fair game for criticism during campaign season. I say sometimes they can be, but not the kids. Them you stay away from.
Aside: who knew Janine Turner had a radio show? (For those that don’t remember, she was the object of Rob Morrow’s desire on Northern Exposure.)
Personally, I’m in between the opinions expressed by the two pundits. What Hilary Rosen said about Ann Romney was at best a political miscalculation, although if you think about it Rosen has a point — not because Mrs. Romney is a stay at home mother, because she’s out of touch with Joe and Jane Lunchpail, as is her husband Mitt. As Rosen quickly discovered, it is never a good idea to criticize mothers (or say anything that remotely resembles praise for Adolf Hitler), even if that’s not what you meant.
Candidates’ kids are still fair game, which is wrong. I think it should be an unwritten rule that candidates never, ever go negative when it comes to their opponents’ children.
I don’t mean Meghan McCain, who is over 18 and makes a career out of offering her opinions. Personally, I don’t think a candidate would gain a lot of points by going after Meghan, or even Bristol Palin, who said some really stupid stuff about President Obama’s daughters. But if other pundits want to involve themselves in a cable news flame war with another pundit who happens to be the son or daughter of a candidate, whatever. I’m talking about young children. Kids who are still in school and have a hard enough time living anything resembling a normal life thanks to their parents’ jobs. Leave them alone.
I would like to see my “no kids” rule extended to pundits as well as candidates. Other than traffic baiting — Bristol Palin’s blog post about the Presidential daughters has almost 3,000 comments — there is no reason to talk about anybody’s young children. The counter-argument of “but the President mentioned them first” is asinine. He’s allowed to discuss his own kids, as is Mitt Romney and every other candidate that runs for office, be it President or dog catcher. In America, families play a role in campaigning. It would be nice if that weren’t the case, but it is.
What would be nicer, and is more realistic, is if everyone involved in a political campaign, everyone who discusses politics in a public forum, even if they write for a parenting blog (ahem), would simply not say anything even remotely insulting about the children of candidates. I’d rather spouses were off limits as well, but they are adults. Children should not be subject to political scrutiny simply because their parents decided to run for office.