THE BLOG

Mixed Marriages In Politics

02/07/2008 12:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Recently, "mixed marriages" and "blended political families" have been in the news. I'm talking about Democrats and Republicans being married to each other. For example, Governor Schwarzenegger supports McCain, and his wife, Maria Shriver, is for Obama. We've also seen some famous uncles and cousins supporting opposing candidates. We're all familiar with the saying, "Politics makes strange bedfellows." I also think "bedfellows make strange politics."

Whenever I see the odd couple of political pundits -- Mary Matalin and James Carville -- on TV, I can't help thinking, "What's going on with the two of them?" I realize it's not that uncommon for spouses to disagree about politics. I'm sure there are Republicans married to Democrats. There are bound to be families in which one spouse is for Clinton and the other for McCain or, maybe, one is for Huckabee and the other is for Obama. I might have gone too far with that last example. In fact, if there are any couples reading this who are Huckabee/Obama supporters, I'd love to hear from them.

My point is that when Mr. and Mrs. Citizen disagree politically, it's just a healthy aspect of our democracy. But Matalin and Carville are professional politicians. They don't just disagree. When each of them describes the other's party, they describe evil. They attack each other's basic values. How can they be married? How does it work? "I hate everything you stand for. Could you pass the salt please, honey?"

And how did Arnold handle Maria coming out for Barack Obama just days after the governor endorsed John McCain? Again, it's not the same as the husband and wife down the street who support different candidates. To those who are (incredibly) claiming that McCain is "too liberal," how does it look for the wife of his muscle-bound endorser to be campaigning for Obama? I'm sure Governor Schwarzenegger took it in stride. He probably said something like, "This is America, and this is California. So, in this greatest land in the world, you can support whoever you want, Maria. I'm not angry. Now I'm just going to go work out and bench press our Hummer."

We've also witnessed the race for Kennedy endorsements. Caroline and Ted endorsed Obama, and then quickly Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Kerry Kennedy endorsed Hillary Clinton. Then, Ted's son Patrick and RFK's widow, Ethel Kennedy endorsed Obama. I worry about how they're all going to get along at their next Thanksgiving dinner or touch football game.

This whole idea of political endorsements has gotten out of hand. On the Democratic side, both candidates will now try to get anybody with any connection to the Kennedys. Look for an announcement like: "Man Who Once Sold JFK Pack Of Gum Backs Hillary."

Any of the Republicans would be happy to have the headline, "Ronald Reagan's Brother Makes Endorsement." Then if we bothered to read the rest of the article, it would be something like: "Fred Reagan, the brother of master plumber, Ronald Reagan, of Omaha, Nebraska, has endorsed..."

Recently, John McCain was so anxious to get rid of the non-endorsement of Rush Limbaugh, that Bob Dole sent Limbaugh a letter praising McCain. How unseemly was that? The former Senate Majority leader courting a radio host? What's next? Is a presidential candidate going to celebrate the endorsement of TV's Oprah Winfrey? Oh, yeah, I forgot.

Endorsements are vastly over-rated. The concept presumes that we can't and don't think for ourselves. Is the union member really going to vote for somebody the union officially supports if he or she doesn't like that candidate? How many people are going to change their minds because a karate guy/actor endorses someone?

If Matalin and Carville are so smart, if Arnold and Maria have so much influence, how come they can't even convince their own spouses?

Lloyd Garver has written for many television shows, ranging from "Sesame Street" to "Family Ties" to "Home Improvement" to "Frasier." He has also read many books, some of them in hardcover. He can be reached at lloydgarver@gmail.com