Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Al Gore’s separation hurts him politically, but only because he is Democratic

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Al Gore and his wife Tipper are getting a separation. Needless to say, in the world of political marriages, this one seemed secure. Then again, what we remember fondly is Al and his passionate kiss of Tipper. But anyone who is married knows that looks can be deceiving.

We tend to be a people that stresses the concept of keeping marriages together, even when they shouldn’t. But we also seem to be contradictory in how we perceive political marriages.

I was amazed in covering the 2008 presidential campaign listening to people slam Hillary Clinton for staying married to Bill. But when other couples stay together (Vitters, Ensigns), that is cool with them.

Marriage is supposed to be upheld whenever possible — these people say — but slam the Clintons for doing just that. Politically, being divorced, especially in the limelight of politics, is a rather rough road to go. Grover Cleveland had a heck of a time and that was before the Religious Right gave us its brand of hypocrisy.

Maybe the true test would be if people might vote for Jenny Sanford, wife of disgraced Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina. Not only did Jenny not stand by her man, she was separated before we knew Mark was cheating on her — and ultimately, the people of South Carolina.

If a long established political marriage ends, there is no chance for that politician to make a comeback. We might have forgiven John Edwards, but if Elizabeth didn’t, John would have no shot. Eliot Spitzer might have a comeback, in part, because he stayed married.

Don’t worry, Republicans. This doesn’t apply to your candidates. A Democratic politician with Newt Gingrich’s marriage track record wouldn’t even be able to file for president. But Newt has every chance in 2012 and beyond. Bob Dole was the party’s nominee in 1996 with a divorce in his background and an alleged affair hidden by the MSM — can’t see a Democratic candidate “get away” with that.

Al Gore may not have a political future anyway purely by choice. But if the separation turns into a divorce, the deal will be sealed. Unless Gore runs as a Republican.

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Written by democracysoup

June 2, 2010 at 8:00 am

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