I received this email from Slate this morning:
I'm writing to let you know Slate has unveiled a new series on the 2008 candidates' marriages this week. Melinda Henneberger, author of If They Only Listened to Us: What Women Voters Want Politicians to Hear, is exploring the dynamics of the candidates and their spouses, and what their marriages might tell us about the kind of president they would be.
Well, since I don't think Melinda Henneberger can possibly know anything about the inner workings of the candidates' marriages and I don't think their most intimate relationship would tell me anything particularly relevant about what kind of president they would be anyway, this doesn't interest me. Pretending to know what goes on in other people's marriages is far more likely to be a projection of your own beliefs not theirs and I don't care about Melinda Henneberger's inner life.
Furthermore, I don't believe it's any of the public's business beyond what the candidates themselves choose to share, because they already put everything relevant on the table, including their finances and their religious beliefs, and submit themselves to endless questions for months. It's not as if we don't have years long campaigns in which to pose every possible question to the candidates and get an idea of where they stand and how they might govern. Doing voyeuristic "investigative work" on their marriages is unnecessary.
People should be able to maintain one small piece of privacy for themselves and be allowed to simply say what they choose without being subjected to cheap Dr Phil psychobabble based on nothing but leering speculation and half-baked supposition. This is gossip, not campaign coverage.
It's also very depressing that the woman who wrote a book called "If They Only Listened to Us: What Women Voters Want Politicians to Hear" is doing this series, apparently also aimed at women. I truly doubt that most women want politicians to "listen" to them chattering irrelevantly about their marriages, something which we can't possibly have enough information about to make any kind of judgment at all, much less a political judgment. Women really do have issues and concerns that are relevant to government and civic life and would be far better served with campaign coverage that addresses those things instead of reading Melinda Henneberger's thoughts on marriage.
If reporters spent less time in general pretending to analyze the candidates' personalities and their private lives and more time analyzing the policies and political landscape we might not end up with people like George W. Bush for president. By all accounts his marriage is extremely stable and highly successful. Go figure.
Update: Krugman says we're doomed.