Burt Prelutsky

I must confess I got a chuckle out of Barack Obama’s warning us all to lay off his wife. Sorry, pal, but it’s too late in the game for that. If you didn’t want her to be a legitimate target, you should have told her to stay home with the kids and to keep her yap shut.

The days when the little women remained at home while the menfolk went off to run for president ended a long time ago, back in the days of Bess Truman and Mamie Eisenhower. Ever since, we voters have been encouraged to take an interest in the wives, trying to determine whether we wanted them to represent America as the First Lady. Frankly, I’ve always suspected that Teresa Heinz-Kerry had more to do with costing her hubby the election than the good folks of Ohio, for which, I, for one, will be forever grateful.

Many years ago, another prominent Democrat came to the defense of a family member. Some Republicans had accused FDR of wasting millions of tax dollars by sending a U.S. destroyer to the Aleutian Islands to retrieve his little Scotch terrier, Fala. But at least Roosevelt had the good grace to say that he, his wife and his children, all expected to come under attack from his political opponents, but that his dog, being a thrifty Scot, would have been the first to object if the accusation had been true.

I agree that there are times when the honorable thing is to keep women out of harm’s way. That’s the way the Mafia conducts its business. You don’t go after the other guy’s wife, mother and children, because you don’t want his goombahs coming after yours. But the difference is that the dons don’t arm their women with Uzis and tell them to go out and earn their keep. Of course nobody in his right mind ever suggested that politicians were as honor-bound as Mafiosos.

Politicians tend to turn campaigns into family endeavors. Hillary sends Chelsea out on the hustings, but being the candidate’s daughter, she’s supposed to be spared not only critical comment, but even hard questions.

Barack sends Michelle out to make speeches and give interviews, but when her words suggest a certain note of bitterness, racism and disaffection for America, Mr. Obama tells us we’re not supposed to take her to task.