Debra J. Saunders

The whole thing was so choreographed that the campaign staff made it be known that Sen. Tom Harkin's wife, Ruth, had started the push to put Judy Dean on the hustings.

"I wanted to come here today and say thank you to the people of Iowa for being so kind and gracious to my husband, Howard Dean," Judy Dean announced.

But the look in her eyes said: "Please don't eat me."

Before Sunday, the Dean campaign was unpredictable: Husband campaigns solo; wife takes care of business at home; kids avoid the slimelight.

But if the distaff doctor stays on the campaign trail, it seems highly predictable, if unfair, that her next stop will be for a makeover.

Dowd, after all, took shots at Steinberg for looking "like a crunchy Vermont hippie, blithely uncoiffed, unadorned, unstyled." After the Iowa "surprise," a Democratic strategist quipped that Steinberg looks like Marilyn Quayle. Everyone will have an opinion as to how J.S.D. -- a k a Judith Steinberg, a k a Judy Dean -- should look.

By the time the campaign machinery is through with the Little Woman, it will have cranked out a regular Democratic Stepford wife -- face-peeled, pearl-accessoried, blow-dried and career-suited. Deaniacs, who volunteered because Dean is "the only real person out there," as one young woman told CNN, will be scratching their heads and wondering where the real people went.

Instead, the Dean Team should use Judith Steinberg's reticence as a selling point. An apolitical wife, after all, means no repeats of some of the Dems' most painful campaign moments. Steinberg -- the Dean Team could promise -- won't go on "60 Minutes" to present a feminist's glossing over of her husband's philandering, a la Hillary Clinton. There will be no staged makeout at a Democratic National Committee convention, a la Al and Tipper Gore. The Dean Team instead can offer a Howard Dean who loves his wife too much to sacrifice her on the altar of the campaign gods.

That would be different.

Debra J. Saunders

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