Edwards “Hiding Behind His Wife”

Writing about Elizabeth Edwards‘ appearance at the BlogHer conference, Addie Stan confesses that although she was turned off during the YouTube/CNN debate when John Edwards opposed gay marriage but said his wife supported it, she became an Elizabeth acolyte (and there are many) when she saw the prospective first lady in person.

I’ve also written about Elizabeth’s inspired public appearances. Most people who meet Elizabeth feel overwhelming respect for such an intelligent, witty, well-spoken woman who refuses to let cancer take over her life. But let’s be honest. Elizabeth isn’t running for president, John is. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama made it to the Planned Parenthood conference. John didn’t — he sent Elizabeth.

Is this a successful campaign strategy for John? Yes, because his wife is likable and eloquent. She helps the Edwards campaign neutralize the threat of another, equally compelling candidate spouse. But I can’t help thinking that there’s something a bit disingenuous about the idea that we elect a couple to the White House instead of an individual. First, it shows how invested our political system is in heterosexual marriage as the ultimate qualifier. We’re all a little bit skeptical of unmarried politicians, aren’t we? And furthermore, while spouses certainly can have enormous influence over one another, as voters, we ultimately have to be comfortable with the views of the candidate him or herself, the person who will be representing America as president. That’s why Elizabeth’s support for marriage equality doesn’t undo John’s quibbling.

cross-posted at TAPPED

2 thoughts on “Edwards “Hiding Behind His Wife”

  1. Rich Yeselson

    I think–and this is just conjecture–that they are consciously evoking FDR and Eleanor, and making the implicit promise to leftist constituency groups that Elizabeth, like Eleanor, will be to the left of her husband, and use her considerable influence upon him, to pull him closer to her own world view.

    If you know the history, you also know that Eleanor was not always successful in that effort–but sometimes she was. So John is saying: Elizabeth won’t be president. But my closest advisor will be to the left of me on a number of domestic issues. And…regarding some of them, I just might take her advice.

    But, yes, the normative nature of the whole heterosexual marriage thing is baked in the (wedding) cake.

    Reply
  2. naomi dagen bloom

    what a refreshing blog! trying to see what had gone on at blogHer conference that would interest me, i’m pleased to read more meaningful content that what i’d found so far.

    intrigued with your word-invention (with history) of flananeuse. reminded me of elizabeth wilson’s book, “the sphinx in the city.”

    Reply

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