Friday, October 12, 2007

Our Republic Is Screwed

Too many of us base our votes on things that have absolutely no bearing on their ability to legislate/run a country, such as the happiness of a candidate's marriage:
Thirty-five percent of the women surveyed said their perceptions of the candidates' marriages would affect their vote in November 2008 either "a great deal" or "somewhat."

35%!?!?!?! Ladies, over a third of you think that a candidate's happiness in his/her marriage has anything to do with their policies and their leadership style? How? What am I missing here? Abe Lincoln had a (reputedly) horrible marriage, and he did okay. Bill Clinton obviously was unhappy enough to screw around with a fugly intern in the Oval Office.

Also, only one couple, the Edwardses, were viewed as happy by the majority of the women surveyed. Conclusion: American women are way too cynical.

10 comments:

Mike said...

See? This is why Ann Coulter says we should take away women's right to vote. Which is amazingly not the dumbest thing she's said in the past month.

Seriously, the Bush marriage seems relatively happy, and look how far that's gotten us. While I can at least somewhat see the point that being on, say, your third marriage may speak volumes about one's character, I just can't see it having that much impact on a vote. But I, as usual when it comes to women, would be wrong.

Pierce said...

I think you're overreacting based on the information we have. There's quite a wide gap between "a great deal" and "somewhat" to lump them together, and for all we know the only remaining option was "not at all." Moreover, maybe the question was preceded by a dozen questions about the Lewinsky scandal. My point is, you can basically get a third of the public to agree on anything if you frame the question correctly.

Furthermore, the anecdotal examples of Clinton and Lincoln don't fully constitute a counterargument. In my opinion, someone's personal behavior is at least "somewhat" relevant to their viability as a presidential candidate, and their love life is a subset of that behavior.

Being president is not just about policy and leadership style, it's also about public presence and communication; if someone's family relationships seem dysfunctional or antagonistic or dictatorial or absentee then they just may carry those characteristics over to their professional practices.

It wouldn't be enough for me to dismiss them outright if they otherwise seem like a great candidate, but it's (again) "somewhat" of a factor in my opinion.

Barzelay said...

>> [O]nly one couple, the Edwardses, were viewed as happy...

It's easier to seem happy and close when one of you is dying.

>> [T]he Bush marriage seems relatively happy...

Really, Mike? I don't think they are even intelligent enough to know whether they like each other. Anyone would seem happy when her face had been surgically fixed into a smile.

Kenny said...

The most cogent way I've heard this put supposedly comes from Truman, who said he would never have a man in his administration who cheated on his wife, because a man who cheats on his wife can't be trusted not to cheat his country. (something like that).

Ben said...

I'd have to agree with Pierce, although I wouldn't put it as strongly as Kenny/Truman put it. I think one can be a good President and an awful spouse. (see: FDR, Clinton)

But nonetheless, I don't think there's really this clean divide between the public person and the private person. It may "spill over" to some extent.

Now I'd probably support a cheating antiwar Democrat over a faithful prowar Republican. But I'd also definitely support a faithful pro-civil liberties Democrat over a cheating pro-civil liberties Democrat. Or insert "pro-life Republican" in there.

Jeff said...

I think we're missing the point of my post here. While I wouldn't consider someone's infidelity when voting, I could understand how someone else could, especially if said candidate is blathering on about the "sanctity of marriage."

But the "happiness" of one's marriage? How does someone's happiness with their spouse affect their ability to do their job? Someone could be of impeccable character and still have a miserable marriage (maybe they don't believe in divorce?). Someone could be a total ass and still have a happy marriage (maybe they married an ass). Furthermore, how can the voter tell if someone's happy in their marriage? We don't watch them interact on a daily basis. I just don't think reasonable people can divine someone's feelings about a part of their private life and use that to determine who will be the best officeholder.

Barzelay said...

I agree, Jeff. There's no way of knowing how happy they are, and it wouldn't matter even if we could tell. But it doesn't matter much less than how likeable the candidate is. Remember all those polls about who you'd rather have a beer with, Dubya or Gore (or later, Kerry)?

Michael said...

You know, someone's marriage can be a train wreck, and he can still be a good administrator. Look at Giuliani while he was mayor.

What the US needs is a Chief Executive/Administrator; not a family man. Those posts require different skills.

Matthew B. Novak said...

It seems like what people are suggesting is that we establish some sort of government in which there is a branch with some sort of head or "prime" administrator or "minister", who leads the executive functions of the government. At the same time another individual - or perhaps a family - is seen as a figurehead who handles the social and stately functions of the country in an almost "regal" fashion.

But how to come up with such a system? I know! I propose we embed a sword into a rock, and the first person to pull it out of the stone...

Mike said...

If that person subsequently lifts the sword to the sky and cries, "I HAVE THE POWER!" that would be awesome.

(I actually posted a substantive comment yesterday, but for some reason, it didn't appear. Instead, you get out-of-left-field references to bad 80s movies. Ha!)