That's No Way to Treat a (First) Lady

Maggie Gallagher
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Posted: Aug 08, 2007 10:29 AM
That's No Way to Treat a (First) Lady

"That's no first lady, that's my wife!" -- Badabump. -- It's open season apparently on the wives and children of GOP presidential candidates.

In a display of judgment worthy of People magazine, Washington Post editors decided the fact that Mrs. Fred Thompson once had a boyfriend when she was single is big news. (Gee, did Michelle Obama? Would Elizabeth Edwards kiss on a first date?) Meanwhile, The New York Times ran a story on the Giulianis' response to Vanity Fair's nasty little gossipy profile of Judith Giuliani, Giuliani's Princess Bride."

OK, so the tiara was a bit much. And true, if, say, Rudy Giuliani is elected president of the United States, it would be a whole lot of cultural firsts: the first Italian, the first openly pro-abortion Republican, the first president of the United States to win the support of the American people without first winning the support of his own children. (Rudy Giuliani's 17-year-old daughter, Caroline, announced this week through her mother's spokesperson that her name on Barack Obama's Facebook page was not an endorsement, and that she would have no comment on the elections of 2008.)

Conventional punditry portrays Rudy's family woes as a potential problem for "conservative family values voters," i.e., the Republican base. But has his campaign yet contemplated the effects on that potent group of general-election swing voters: the so-called "soccer moms"?

Rudy needs the soccer moms to be security moms this election cycle. But these swing voters are less issue-driven than either side's base and more apt to make last-minute judgments based on intangible impressions, such as: Would you trust your children's safety to a man whose children don't trust him?

The Giulianis have apparently decided the best defense is a good romance.

For months, they refused to discuss how they first met (Rudy was still married and living with his wife and kids), calling it a "romantic little secret." But faced with negative press on Judith, they've decided to share all their intimate secrets with us. They met at a cigar bar on East 63rd Street in Manhattan. After chatting for an hour about her work in the pharmaceutical industry, Rudy asked for her phone number.

"One of our other romantic little secrets is: I've kept it all these years in my wallet," Rudy told The New York Times. Things heated up so quickly that when Judy won a trip to Hawaii for being a top sales manager, Rudy begged her not to go. 'You've already become too important to me,' Judith says he told her.

At this point The New York Times interrupts the romance to note, Mrs. Giuliani declined to comment when asked how she felt about dating a married man, or the complications involved in seeing him secretly.

I guess some things are just too intimate to share.

Rudy quickly gushed in: "I don't discuss that in detail except to say that, you know, we love each other very much, and we have both found the person that we adore and can live with the rest of our lives."

Bad move. Not just as a matter of morals, but of taste. Listening to a presidential candidate gush is a little like overhearing your parents engage in baby talk. Myself, I'm old enough to know that, as Billy Joel once sang (before Christie Brinkley divorced him): "happiness goes on." Even old bald guys can get all mushy in love, and more power to them. But, as Jane Austen once pointed out: "Fair or not fair, there are unbecoming conjunctions, which reason will patronize in vain -- which taste cannot tolerate -- which ridicule will seize."

Rudy, one word: TMI. Very glad to know you'll always have Paris. Can we get back to the part about blowing up the bad guys?