There is a growing controversy about a politician smack in the center of the presidential nomination process. Its revelation has sent shock waves through his party. Terrifying the party's very base. The problem is ghastly. Ghastly!:
His wife is blond, beautiful and younger than him.
Okay, without even being aware of the details, you just know the party in question is the GOP. Yes, Republicans are up in arms upon discovering that Fred Thompson has an attractive wife. Even Joe Scarborough was wondering on MSNBC if she worked a stripper pole for exercise.
This is insane just on oh-so many levels.
It also demonstrates how ridiculous Republicans have been making Thompson a leading choices in polls without knowing almost anything about him - like, say, his political beliefs, plans and who he's married to. They do, however, enjoy the crusty character he plays on TV with lines written for him by others. ("Others" here are defined as "Hollywood types," also known as "the Hollywood Media Elite.")
And stupid as that is, it's nothing to compared to the lunacy of the "scandal" itself.
The concern, of course, is that if one is to be the Great White Hope of the conservative base of the Republican Party, having a hot, young babe for a wife is repugnant to the sensibilities.This could only happen in the Republican Party.
Never mind that the young Mrs. Thompson is 40 years old.
By the way, if she was an actress, as many Republicans probably assume, you know what they'd call her in Hollywood? Retired. (If she was really lucky, though, she might be able to get grandmother roles.) But no, to the horrified base, Jeri Kehn Thompson is a young bimbo.
Never mind that she is an attorney, used to be a Senate aide and was a spokesperson for the Republican National Committee. Apparently she's good enough to speak for the party, just not be its nominee's wife. Okay, in fairness, most Republicans don't know her credentials, but why should facts get in the way of their angst. It rarely has in the past.
Facts simply don't matter. To the Republican base, this is just a deplorable example to set for America. Fred Thompson, the beloved D.A. on "Law & Order," with wisdom-cracking lines written for him by liberals, tossing aside his wife for this Jezebel. Never mind that Thompson had been divorced for 17 years. Never mind that Fred and Jeri Thompson have two children of their own.
Hey, if the facts about John Kerry and Swiftboats don't matter, why should this? If President George Bush can promise harsh action against whoever outed a covert CIA agent, and then commute the sentence of the very man convicted of obstructing justice in that case, why should this matter? No, reality died a blustery death in the Republican Party years ago.
The Republican base is most-especially mortified because of a photograph. A photograph in which Mrs. Thompson dares to look very attractive in a flattering dress.
Most normal human mortals would look at that photo and say, "Gee, she looks awfully good. Way to go, Fred. Way to go, Mrs. T."
Only in the Republican Party would people be outraged.
Hey, if the G.O.P. really wants to get horrified over a photo of a dress, there's a picture of their leading candidate, Rudy Giuliani, in one. That upset people, but not nearly as much as this.
We have a war going on that has cost 3,600 American lives, 25,000 wounded and $441 billion. A $260 billion federal budget deficit. An $8.8 trillion national debt. The White House about to be subpoenaed. Scandals in the Justice Department. A president with a 26% approval. A vice-president with an 18% approval.
And the Republican Party is concerned that a man not-yet running for its leadership has a wife who is 40-years old, beautiful and accomplished.
This could only happen in the Republican Party.
This could only happen when a party has lost its soul by catering solely to its base. It's why the G.O.P. is floundering, and struggling to find a leader. This is why people identify themselves as Democrats by 15 more points than Republicans, when only two years ago it was even. The Republican Party built its house on that base, entrusted its future to that base, and this is what you get. With firestorms sucking you down, this is the kind of issue that concerns your party. This is the bed you made. These are the people you must sleep with.
There are many excellent reasons why Fred Thompson should not be President of the United States. Having an attractive wife is not one of them.
Unless, of course, you're part of the Republican base.
Updated with Internet links.
Follow Robert J. Elisberg on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RobertElisberg