Sunday, March 11, 2007

How Our Governors Treat Their First Ladies

Fascinating juxtaposition of two stories in the Boston Globe today. How our Governors use their wives politically, how the wives let themselves be used, and what happens when the wife is in distress as a result:

Newly elected Governor Deval Patrick's wife Diane, a high-powered attorney used to pressure (and apparently otherwise healthy), is reported to be suffering from depression. Depression is often triggered by extreme stress, the story says. So the Governor announces he needs to step back from his job to spend more time with her. While we may not offer Patrick much praise on policy issues, we think this is the way to go here. (He'll just need to prioritize better in the corner office -- we suggest not meddling so much in the lives of the citizens!)

Meanwhile, former Governor Mitt Romney's wife Ann, who suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS), is being pushed onto a pedestal at every campaign appearance she can manage. "My sweetheart," Romney repeats over and over. The photo ops are great: Lovey-dovey couple, five handsome sons and daughters-in-law, picture-perfect grandchildren. But poor Ann. The course of MS is unpredictable, though there seems to be a link between extreme stress and worsening symptoms.

We noted this a few weeks back in our posting "Ambition vs. Family." From the Globe article we quoted there:

... this week, Ann Romney delved into some of the most private and charged issues facing her husband's campaign. In an extensive and surprisingly frank interview with ABC News, she described her battle with multiple sclerosis, saying her husband will forge ahead with his pursuit of the presidency, even if her health declines. ...

Discussing multiple sclerosis, which she was diagnosed with in 1998, Ann Romney said she was weak for several years and felt "completely crushed." "I was not an example of strength and courage when I was going through it," she said. "I was pretty frightened."These says, she said, "I'm feeling well. . . . My health is good." She credited yoga, Pilates, reflexology, and acupuncture, as well as a diet low in sugar and white flour. She also loves horses and tries to ride every day, she said.

She said the family has decided that even if her health worsens, her husband will not stop campaigning for the White House.... "We decided that once we crossed that threshold, that he was going forward, that he was making a commitment," she said. She added, "That was a commitment that I made him promise to make."

Bottom line: We wish politicians and candidates would leave their spouses out of it. Keep your private life and family relations separate, please. That goes for you too, Hillary!