Today, the Washington Post joins the New York Times in its passion to write exposés about Jeri Thompson, the wife of presidential candidate Fred Thompson. With two glaring exceptions, the piece actually appears rather balanced and fair, although it appears that Republican wives get a lot more critical attention than Democratic wives in this cycle:
In the nascent Thompson campaign -- anticipated with high hopes by many conservatives unsatisfied with the current crop of GOP candidates -- Jeri Thompson plays a role arguably as influential as those of two better-known spouses of Democratic candidates, Bill Clinton and Elizabeth Edwards. She helps shape her husband's conservative message and image, has been a strong voice urging him to run and recently helped instigate a shake-up that pushed aside Thompson's first campaign manager and his research director. ...
The current GOP presidential field provides two examples of the political perils of a controversial spouse. In 1999, in the midst of Sen. John McCain's first presidential campaign, his wife, Cindy, addressed her previous addiction to painkillers, which eventually led her to steal drugs from her nonprofit medical group. Rudolph W. Giuliani's third wife, Judith, has endured stories about her previous marriages and her penchant for expensive shopping.
Even before her husband's campaign is official, Jeri Thompson has had her share of publicity. She has had to fend off insinuations about her age and good looks -- including a New York Times reference to her as a "trophy wife." And some advisers inside the Thompson campaign have anonymously criticized the strong hand she has taken in running it.
So what are the two glaring exceptions? John Solomon and Alec MacGillis decided to focus on Jeri's credit history and previous boyfriend for most of the middle part of this article. The judgments and wage garnishments on petty debts are part of the public record, but I don't recall hearing much about Michelle Obama's credit history, nor did the mainstream media talk much about Elizabeth Edwards' debts before her marriage. They do, however, manage to work in gossip about Judith Giuliani and rehash Cindy McCain's battle with painkillers.
As far as the ex-boyfriend is concerned, it's difficult to tell why he matters at all. Again, Jeri isn't running for president, and whether she had a live-in boyfriend in her 20s hardly seems relevant or anyone else's business. Bernard Alvey gets to have his financial woes splashed across the Washington Post for no other reason that his ex-girlfriend married someone famous. Exactly when will the Post start recounting the sexual history of Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Edwards, and Tipper Gore?
Apart from this, the article isn't half-bad -- because half of it is all we have left after this irrelevance. It's an interesting look into Jeri Thompson's political experience and her growth into a focused person capable of strong support for her husband. It's too bad that Solomon and MacGillis couldn't have resisted the temptation to troll for mud.