Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
The Democrats and Republicans might be settled on their nominees now, but that doesn't mean Barack Obama and John McCain are the only ones in the spotlight.
Maureen Dowd writes in her New York Times column called "Mincing up Michelle" that now that HIllary Clinton is out of the race, the Republican machine can turn its full attention to demonizing Michelle Obama. "She is the new, unwilling contestant in Round Two of the sulfurous national game of "'Kill the witch.'"
There are web sites dedicated to portraying Michelle as a female version of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, a recent cover of the National Review called her "Mrs. Grievance" and one popular conservative blogger described her as "Obama's bitter half."
Michelle Obama stirred controversy last February when she said, "For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country." The campaign clarified that she meant she was proud of the participation of thousands of Americans, but it still led to accusations that she was unpatriotic.
Cindy McCain has also drawn criticism. When she first refused to release her tax returns, some said that wasn't consistent with her husband's message of openness. Mrs. McCain has also talked about her addiction to painkillers in the early 90s, and how she initially kept it secret from her husband and family.
So what is fair game when it comes to the nominees' spouses? After Tennessee Republicans recently went after Michelle, Barack Obama said they should "lay off" his wife. But it's not the first time critics have picked on potential first ladies: Judy Giuliani was the subject of several nasty profiles showing her as a social climber and husband-stealer. And of course, Hillary Clinton was slammed after her 1992 comment about staying home and baking cookies.
Here’s my question to you: Should Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain be off-limits during the campaign?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
They should be looked at very closely. After all, they will hear sensitive information and their views will be heard around the world. Do you want someone to go to another country on behalf of the U.S. without knowing what type person they are? The country will be judged by their presentation.
I am a Barack supporter, but I think Michelle can handle a little scrutiny. She does tend to be too strong and overly confident, not a good quality for a first lady. A little scrutiny will serve to smooth her rough edges and not hurt her husband's campaign. I think Michelle and Cindy should be under the spotlight a bit more just to refine them.
This is exactly why we have the leaders we have. No one with any brains would want to leave a secure position with a good company to join the gang of lizards we call our leaders. Elect a president by encouraging the best minds to run. They will not with the way their lives are turned upside down today. Therefore, we get what we get: 3rd rate lawyers and other has-beens and do-nothings.
Patrick from Virginia writes:
Frankly, I hope that the American people are seeing that a new breed of politics is emerging in this election cycle – one in which the voting public is
Steve from Idaho writes:
It depends, Jack. If it's something they say regarding the candidate and his policies, then it's fair game. But if it is something about their personal character or something they said or did in their past, it's not relevant because they are not running for president.
The BEST political viewer of television from Texas writes:
Not as long as they get in front of the cameras and reporters.
Tim from Toledo, Ohio writes:
Off limits? Not a chance! There's a good chance they may run for president some day!
Why should they be. We are not electing a Prom King and Queen we are electing the President of the United States of America. His baggage becomes our baggage. If he succeeds we all succeed. If he fails, well then we just blame him..... It is all fair game when you want to rule a nation. The good the bad and the ugly.
Off limits from WHAT !! the natering negatives we often hear from the media? No. If they "step in it" they get to feel the "heat" just like their spouses. Give me a break. Mary from Sarasota, FL
No, but they shouldn't be the main focal point either. We're trying to elect a president here, not a first lady!
If they're out there campaigning for their husbands then they are fair game. Cindy McCain swore up and down that she wasn't going to release her tax records but in the end she didn't have a choice.
Spouses should only be off limits to a certain degree. Michelle Obama is playing an unusually active role in her husband's campaign and what she does and says on behalf of her husband should be allowed to be scrutinized. Free passes are not allowed in politics. Bill Clinton was also very active in his wife's campaing and he was scrutinized for it, shouldn't we have the same standard for the wives?
Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
That depends on the spouses themselves. If they prefer to remain private entities, they should be off limits and all other candidates, their advocates and the media should respect that privacy as sacred. On the other hand, if they choose to place themselves in the spotlight and advocate for their spouses, then they can not claim immunity from criticism.
Absolutely not. A spouse has influence, and voters will benefit from fair reporting about a candidate's spouse if that reporting is relevant and balanced, which is generally the case in the mainstream media.
Why speculate about something that won't happen? There is no way you will be able to keep fringe groups from attacking the spouses. Putting them off limits is a nice thing to say, but it won't happen.
Spouses and children should be off limits. That said, if the Republicans think the left-leaning blogosphere won't respond in kind to attacks against Michelle Obama with more information than they ever wanted out there about Cindy McCain, they're mistaken. Michelle's poorly worded remarks pale in comparison to Mrs. McCain's past mistakes.
Apparently Bill wasn't left alone while Hillary was in the race, because he wasn't behind the scene, but out there speaking his mind and inviting comments on his behavior and speeches.
I guess if Michelle Obama is doing the same, she shouldn't be off-limits either.
If Cindy McCain speaks out, then she is also not off-limits, but if she makes no comment at all, what should be said about her?
If they actively campiagn for their husbands, yes they should be held responsible for what they say, just as any other surrogates are. You certainly had no problem with bashing President Clinton during the primaries, so fair is fair.
You can't make a rule that a candidate's spouse is off limits. How are you going to enforce the rule? The voters will decide whether a candidate's spouse is off limits by either rewarding or punishing this tactic. And you can't even put any credence in the answers you get to this question because people may SAY that a candidate's spouse should be off limits and then vote for the candidate that most successfully discredited his opponent and spouse both.
No, they should not be off limits. We need to know EVERYTHING about their past as well as their husbands' past. They, along with their husbands represent us throughout the world. We have enough problems without our "First Lady" being an embarrassment to the United States. Rochester, New York
Absolutely not!!! If both Clinton's have been fodder for the media and every crackpot organization then why should those two women be immune to the same treatment. I suppose their children should be, but Chelsea has not been.
They are in the spotlight with their spouses so if they say something that is controversial, give it to them just as you have Hillary and Bill.
I think they are fair game to a degree. I know I am influenced by my wife and thus the people have a right to know who they are and what they support. Lets face it first ladys do get much more involved than they used to (we had one running for President). However, personal attacks are not appropriate.
I feel what they say in their speeches is open to comments,
criticisms etc. But their personal lives as wives and mothers
should be allowed to be private. They are not the ones who
will be making the critical decisions for our country.
Although they should be considered as role models, their
actions when out of the limelight, of course I don't mean
criminal, indecent, or derogatory for our country, should be
theirs and their families alone.
NO. If they are going to go out and give speeches on behalf of their spouses then they are legitimate targets for what those speeches contain.
We are electing a commandor in chief not a first lady in chief. Only one person can lead. The Clintons tried the two for one deal and it did not work. The oval office can only hold one President. yes the first lady does represent our country and should be some what scrutinized. The main attention needs to focus on the President and his cabinet. The people that are goning to actually try to run the country. (We all know COngress really runs it).
Jenny ROme GA
Yes. No one is running for the office of first lady, nor should they be susceptible to the same intense media scrutiny of the candidates themselves. Its ironic that the same political party who wants to uphold the sanctity of marriage, and believes in family values, is willing to politically tear a candidates wife to shreds.
Jack, this is a hard one....if the spouse were say Bill Clinton...well he's politically savy and what influence he may carry with Hillary would be of interest and scrutinized .... as far as the others...they're new to this sort of thing so the approach should be a bit different until their role in things becomes more clear...
for the most part though I'd say stick to those who are really running for office and leave the families out of it....
Provided that the candidates' wives do not say anything extremely negative or out-of-bounds against the other candidate we should leave the spouses out of this. This is not E!, or Extra, or Jerry Springer. If the majority of Americans focused on learning and understanding who and what they are voting for in the candidates, I would be truly impressed.
With 24/7 news and air-time to fill, the pundits will never stop talking about everyithing-including the dogs, children, nannies, everybody"s third-grade schoolteacher, and yes, especially the wives.
Just like the celebs, if you can't handle the Razzi, don't cash the checks from Papi!
Wildwood Crest, NJ
Didn't you already ask this question?
I think that, if the spouses help with the campaigning, they should be scrutinized just like the candidates.
This goes for Michelle, Bill, Cindy, and even Chelsea!
Remember Jimmy Carter, when his brother Billy went crazy? Things got so bad that they named a beer after him!
Leave them alone. They are not running for office. Cindy McCain doesn't do or say anything, she just stands there as if she has been embalmed. Michelle Obama is more active but she is not doing anything that needs to be attacked.
That all depends what kind of "off limits" you are talking about. If spouses get into the campaign fray by word or deed; no deal. A well documented example of spousal involvement is how Bill Clinton helped snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. If you are "In for a penny; you are in for a pound".
I think they should be off limits during a campaign. They are not the ones that are running for president, their husbands are. We should be more concerned with the actual candidates character and their views on the important issues than anything their wives may or may not have done. Slinging mud at the wife of a presidential candidate only serves as a distraction from the real problems we are facing, and it's very important that Americans stay focused this time around.
The candidates use their wives during the campaigns – the wives should be open to the same scrutiny. Remember the access and influence they will have should their spouse become president.
I'm not sure they can be left alone entirely, given the media-driven age in which we live and the cyber-fishbowl society it produces.
However, they are not running for office. While they will have certain ceremonial duties if their spouses reach The White House, they have no true power to directly affect government.
That being said, the role of First Spouse is important and handled property can be a real advantage for a sitting president (Laura Bush comes to mind...class act all the way.) Now if they are billed as a "two-fer" as Hillary Clinton was in 1992, better put on the body armor, because the First Spouse has volunteered as an attractive target.
Can't have it both ways.
The kind of people who base their vote on what the spouse of the candidate says would find some other stupid thing to base it on if the spouses were off limits.
They should be off limits, until they inject themselves into the race in anyway then they are fair game...
C.I., New York
Yes, then maybe they will leave Bill Clinton alone
Yes or no. Doesn't matter Jack. As long as they get equal treatment. You can't go after Michelle Obama and ignore Cindy McCain's drug issues. I personally would like to hear how she feels about her husband calling her the C-word. Seems like the entire media is ignoring McSame's infamous temper.
No one should be off limits during the campaign. When you elect a president you get the candidate and his family for four years. The candidates know that they and their families will be scrutinized. The american public is entitled to know the entire history of each candidate and their families. Hopefully this information wiill assist us in evaluating the candidates. You know Jack, the spouses can always refuse to answer questions if they choose to. They can also stay out of the limelight, but once they make the choice to campaign as an agent for their spouses they are fair game.
St. Augustine, Fl
They shouldn't be off-limits, but the attacks should be substantive instead of the misogynistic, demeaning attacks that have become the rule rather than the exception when dealing with women in positions of power.
Jack, I thin both of them ought to be scrutinized. After all both Michelle and Cindy want to be first lady. Fair or not, they will have to deal with the media. What better way to start patriotism. Having said that I think the GOP's attacks on Michelle over patriotism is a bogus one.
Yes, they should leave spouses and children out of it. . Now if spouces own or do somthing that is illegal then maybe not. If they say something that is very derrogatory to the people of America, maybe not.
The way the Conservatives are going after Michelle Obama is totally ridiculous. Especially with some of the baggage Cindy McCain is carrying and the Obama campaign or surrogates have not returned the favor and are trying to be respectful of Mrs. McCain. I certainly hopes it backfires on them big time.
No! Are we going to start getting moral about these these politcal wifes.
Is one of these woman trying to hide something. Especially if one of them is just getting proud of her country. I feel great shame of this current adminastration but I have never questioned my patrioism of this country, or felt the need to burn the flag.
I really wish you guys had spell check:)
Jack, skip the off limits....let's go after everyone remotely associated with the candidates, invistegate their children, their parents, their mailman, their grade school teachers, even the pizza delivery man , everyone should be fair game.
We need more distractions in this election to keep our mind off the real issues that decide our future.
No, I don't think they should be entirely off limits. However, it should be fair and equal coverage for both of them. The problem is the Republicans have their very own Michelle bashing channel in FOX news and therefore cannot possibly be treated equally. FOX will start something outrageous and CNN will be repeating it the next day.
The candidates wives are fair game! They also represent the United States wherever they go and can be as great an influence on world opinion as their husbands. If they have skeletons in the closet, now is the time for these to be exposed–not after she becomes "First Lady."
Once they set foot on a stage or start speaking out in favor of their husband's position - then they, like anyone else is fair game.
Unfortunately No. But I would also like to add the MSM needs to give Michelle some leeway since they are new at this. To have your words dissected over and over and your thoughts misrepresented take some getting used to. Remember Hillary, lord knows how many times she put her foot in her mouth.
In the age of instant news,thanks to cell phone camera and hidden recorders, she needs to be careful. From I could gather she seems to be doing fine.
The spouse matters if she become first lady. No doubt, many of you who are Hillary supporters will continue to badmouth Michelle, but she has what it takes to be a great first lady. (I am white and John McCain's age).
Bloggers: please don't bring up again how she spoke about her pride in America. That was no worse than McCain saying he will veto every beer. Michelle represents America well.
It doesnt matter Jack they will be picked on regardless!
However I see Cindy McCain as a rich high class socialite who has no idea how to relate to the average woman.
Even though I am a person who cheers Obama on, Hillary never came across that way to me and neither does Michelle Obama.
Michelle comes across as a real woman ...one who can relate to the average woman and her concerns for herself and her family!
Jack I think it depends on if they want to be active in the campaign some of the things spouses are called out for are a reach like the statement that Michelle Obama was call out for by says for the first time I am proud of where our country is going.. Jack I am a old white guy and I kind of feel the same way we have broken barriers by having a female candidate and a black nominee for President. I am kind of proud we have come this far and I don't think I am unpatriotic. You can kind of tell when people are getting desprate they start reaching for such crap.
I think it really depends on the candidates' spouce. If you put yourself out there to be analyzed then sure, but if you're just supporting your spouce (morally or financially), then no way. In either arguement it has no bearing on who should win...
Jack, unless Michelle or Cindy have blatently broken or flaunted one or more of the Ten "Thou Shalt Nots" in recent years, they should be allowed to be surportive of their husbands without the media, 527s and opposing camps going on full-field investigations to unearth some antiquity of deed or through that might be attributed to them going back to the time before Caesar's wife ought to have been above reproach. Enough Already!
Jack, the Republican smear machine has already begun spreading nasty rumors about Michele Obama, similar to those made up about Kitty Dukakis, Hillary Clinton, Tipper and Mrs. Kerry. Good taste would put the candidates’ wives off limits, but good taste has never affected national politics.
I don't believe anybody should be off limits if they are out there campaigning. Children should be off limits when they are under age but not if they are old enough to campaign as Chelsea was doing. I do believe, however, that we should have a little more dignity in this Country about reporting and the tactics used on anybody.
Leave the spouses alone!
Spouses have been considered fair game since Eleanor Roosevelt. Why are we suddenly so concerned about this? People seem to forget that even Jackie Kennedy was often critisized for her socialite background and the money she spent revamping the living quarters of the White House. Nancy Reagan certain felt the heat of the media at times, as has Babs and Hillary. In fact, the more active a spouse is, the more heat they get for it. It is like a game the media plays and we all watch enthusiastically.
Des Moines, IA
I understand that there are tapes of Mrs. Obama speaking in church taking the same path as Rev. Wright. Why has the media not picked up on this?
In for a penny, in for a pound. Let no stone go unturned when picking one of the elite for the #1 chair.
All I'm gonna say Jack is that they should be ashame for using our women here in the states the way they are. As far as I'm concerned, we have a rule here......you mess with the wife, better watch out for your life! It is despicable how not only the Reps but also the Dems may portray our women here in the states.........I say to you have some f-- respect!!!
And as a man who has 7 sisters, it makes me sick to see a woman on both sides getting treated for how they live......IT IS DESPICABLE!!!! And I'm not lying...
I don't believe that they should be off limits at all. These women helped their husbands make the initial decision to make the run for the office. They are all, husbands and other adult family members, aware that they are going to be put under the brightest lights possible. If you don't have anything in your closet this wouldn't be an issue. Apparently, both of these ladies did, and possibly still do. The only ones who should be off limits are the children, afterall, they are just going with the flow and should be allowed to have whatever childhood they can in this circus.
Jack I think we shouldnt go there but the GOP has decided thats where they want to go. If I were John McCain I would made sure to stay far far away from the spouse battle because that is one he will surely lose . Obama's wife may have made a few gaffes in the past but she does not have a history of drug abuse, adultery, and business dealings with Sudan as Cindy McCain does. He is lucky the DNC has enough class not to attack his wife and the GOP should really understand its a can of worms they surely dont want to open.
If they make campaign speeches, what they say is fair game, same as anyone else in the campaign.
But their comments should never receive as much attention as the candidate's words.
I think it depends on how involved they are in the process. Michelle is out there every day hammering away at the Republicans but Cindy is not (That I'm aware of) . If she were hammering away at Obama, then she's OPEN for Attack. So if Michelle or Cindy want to dish it out they better be ready to take it.
I think if you say 'If they don't get involved leave them be' it's the wrong attitude. Because then people with huge issues to hide, like some of the ones I've heard about Mrs McCain, would simply stay in the background and pray like hell that none of that stuff ever came out. But I think there are some things that should come out. I don't think there should be targeted 'kill the spouse' campaigns.. but I do think that the more we know about WHO the candidate chose to spend their life with can tell us some things about the candidate. For example.. Obama chose a very strong, very independant, very outspoken woman as his spouse. Which to me says that he isn't intimidated or worried about women of strength, independence, or those who are vocal about their causes and beliefs. That doesn't mean he SHARES all of those beliefs.. My spouse and I differ on many major issues. Politics was always one of those. This year, he's actually voting Democrat for the first time. I've been a Democrat all my life.
The spouse should only be targets if they are helping make policy, doing the majority of funding the campaign or clearly attack the other candidate without clear information to back it up. I would hope that the spouse would be able to stump for the candidate; able to say things like, "I love my husband and make sure you vote for him." Other items might be like, "My husband is worked hard on his policy more than he has on picking up his socks."
Of course they are not off limits – they are given thousands of dollars of tax payers money for a staff and office space in the White House to run around and get behind any cause they choose – so I want to know what the believe in and what they would do when they get in the White House.
These two women are actively campaigning for their husbands and one of them will be our First Lady, representing us to the rest of the world. If they can't take the scrutiny now and learn to clean up their acts, then how the heck are they going to handle the international scrutiny and diplomaticaprotocols when their husband takes office?
If you are stumping, you are the candidate's surrogate, and are therefore not off limits. The First Lady represents the US at many functions, and her character and beliefs are therefore important. Nice try, though, Jack!!
ALL's fair in love AND war!
Nice try, Jack!!!!!!
I think it greatly depends on how active they are in the campaign. If they are extremely active, as Clinton was, and have a tendency to make offensive remarks, then by all mean scrutinize. However, Cindy McCain has said very little on the campaign trail, so to criticize her is just picking. They should not, however, be scrutinized more than their husbands and wives that are actually running. Hold them accountable, but remember we are electing a president here, not their spouse.
Hey Jack it's called playing the dozen, and family members should be off limits.
Inquiry I can agree with. Degradation is something all together different. Being in the public eye shouldn't mean being subjected to the scrutiny and criticism readily administered by us, the public. It is unfair and unfortunate. It's even more unfortunate when one wife dumps on the other (meaning Mrs. McCain).
K from Jacksonville
The candidates wives may be campaigning for their husbands but as others have mentioned on this blog, they are not running for office. This is media sensationalism, printing every word someone remotely associated with the candidates says, often having nothing to do with the candidates stance on issues.
Candidate spouses are fair game, if they are said to be an advisor to the candidate, and if they are actively campaigning for their spouse.
Bottom line if a candidate's spouse open's her/his mouth their comments are not above scrutiny. On that note Michelle Obama should be a huge concern for the Obama camp. Cheers.
Question is, Would it be acceptable to you if CNN adopted a policy to conduct background checks on current and future employees and their spouses to determine eligibility for employment? Of course not.
I fail to see the difference in selecting a Commander in Chief.
yes ,They should be off limits.They are not going to be the president period stick to what affects the american people and stop the tabloidish stuff.This is not the jerry springer show it is serious buisiness.The president we have no is a joke we need to work on fixing our situation.
Yes, but had Hillary been the nominee, no. If your spouse is or has been president, the door is wide open.
I think both of the candidates and the candidates wives should be off limits for being called names in the press. We should treat all participants in the election process with respect, and we should expect them to treat us and each other with respect as well. I really hate all of the mud slinging by both sides. All I want to hear about is the issues.
Depends on how much of a role they play! If they basically provide everything from packet money to airplane for the husband, then their in the middle of the field. If they're speak but just the blunders are heard, then... em... they are still in the field.
No, you 24 hour news guys should go after everybody and everything you can find! After all, this wouldn't really be a divisive enough political campaign if the news media didn't continually work to distract the American people from the REAL issues that affect our everyday lives! When will you guys get a grip on your responsibility to report objectively on the ISSUES affecting our country – without your constant need to inject your own opionions regarding the "so called facts" that really matter to NO ONE but you?
You can ask this questions about candidates' wives being out of bounds after a year when one former (successful) candidate's wife actually ran for the job? Kinda obvious, isn't it, what the answer is.
The Media should leave them alone, are they not suffering enought just being married to the canidate?
No, they should not be off limits. The spouse, who is running for POTUS, married them for a reason. The spouse of the candidate could be loud mouthed, they could be racist, they could have a run the roost type personality (will they run the POTUS?), they could have a negative influence in the White House.
Yes, it is fair to criticize things that anyone, including candidates' spouses, say while on the stump for the candidates.
However, the demonization of Michelle Obama has been sickening. Her remark that "for the first time in my adult life I'm really proud of my country" has been distorted beyond all recognition (even altered to edit out the word "really"!) in an effort to smear her as an America-hater. Where's the respect for this woman who grew up with little means on the South Side of Chicago, got herself admitted to Princeton University and Harvard Law School, and - with her husband - has built a wonderful life for herself and her daughters. Her life story is what America is supposed to be all about.
The fact that people who have never met or spoken with Michelle Obama and know her only through a few distorted soundbites could decide so conclusively that she is "angry", "bitter", "anti-American", etc., smacks of, at best, the worst kind of partisanship, and at worst, blatant racism.
as i exercise in my treadmill Jack, i gossiped with my friend Jenna about these two ladies, she is a McCain supporter, and i am an Obama supporter, she claims Michelle is a Jackie Kennedy wanna be who wears the same haircut and dress, and i claim that Cindy McCain is an old barbie WANNA BE. these women just took center stage. and the world is the audience.
Don't worry Jack, it doesn't matter what the public thinks the Swift Boaters will be out in force making up crap and adding their sweet touches where there isn't any story! It's pathetic, and even more pathetic that a good many people believe them.
From what I have heard, neither Michelle nor Cindy wants to be First Lady, because neither wanted her husband to reun for the presidency.These women should be OFF LIMITS for scrutiny, praise or criticism unless something truly substantive occurs. Now, of course, the question becomes: who decides what is substantive??
I think that we should be able to look at the marriage and family life of the candidate and judge for ourselves if that falls in line with our beliefs. I believe in a nuclear marriage and lean towards what I see in the family life of Obama. He also has a strong outspoken woman. Something that people like about Hillary Clinton.
I see Cindy McCain taking an un-interested back seat to what is going on in our country. She also got involved with McCain while he was still married to his first wife. I don't look to highly at the heiress.
No I don`t believe they should be off limits. If someone is as outspoken as Michelle Obama is going to be representing my country,I want to know what her veiws are also. It does make a huge difference if someone who has never been proud of her country before and who attended such a racist church for as long as they did is going to be out speaking for our country I want to know all I can about that person.
Jack – They needed to be off limits when the wives of Presidents did not work, and when they were only asked about the garden and the decorations in their houses. We are far removed from those days with Nancy Reagan, who became the first of her kind – the activist First Lady. So with that, we need to vet not only the Presidential Hopefuls, but also their spouses who give us a window into their relationships, their jobs, and their past.
Just wait Jack, soon the Futures market will be betting on First Spouses, just like they do the oil market.
No surrogate of any of the candidates are off limit if they are campaigning for a condidate and say things that are controversial. However, I must point out that I have not seen the negative attacks on Cindy McCain as I have seen against Michelle Obama...but then, Michelle is black so the rules don't apply! Thank GOD both she and Sen. Obama have gotten lots of practice during the primaries on what not to say!
Of course they should be off limits....Why wouldn't they be off limits? We aren't voting for them to do anything..They just happen to be married to a potential President..
Candidate's spouses should be off-limits until they step foot in the political ring. As soon as they add themselves into politics they are basically giving the "fair game" sign to anyone and everyone out there. Same thing goes with children of candidates. As soon as you start stumping for your mom, dad, husband or wife, that person should no longer be off limits.
I think that if the wives are involved and in the public eye, then they are fair game, to a point. I don't think their pasts or personal lives should be fodder for the media. If they say something objectionable while speaking on behalf of their husbands, then yes, that should be scrutinized because we operate under the assumption they are speaking for their husbands and what they believe.
Why are we even wasting our time on this question. War in Iraq, people losing thier house's, people can't find jobs Serious question about those things would better serve our country. Maybe the Corporate Media can remember that when they dumb down the news for us.
Not so much that they are off limits, however, when the media twists and turns on a statement made, and take things out of context, then go on and on , and on about it-Like we are stupid.
Nice try, Jack!!!!
No, they shouldn't but, shouldn't be forgotten completely either, because there is a lot you can tell about a person by his spouse, so I think that they will have an important role during the campaign.
They chose the man and his life so they are fair game.
They definetly should not be off limits. It goes to their moral judgement. They can say that their spiritual advisors have no influence over the candidate. They can say their radical friends have no influence over the candidate. They can even say their criminal neighbors have no influence over them. But, too say that their wives have no influence over them is ridiculous! We deserve the right to know what their spouse stands for as just as much as the candidate. Besides you had no problem laying out all of Bill's flaws.
When the wife of a candidate has openly participated in
the campaign debate, when the wife of a candidate has
published political opinions, when the wife of a candidate
has advertised herself as the mentor of the candidate,
when the wife of a candidate has made herself an
activist candidate for First Lady, she has inserted herself
into the campaign and is rightfully subject to a fair
analysis and examination.
Jack, I could care less about politicians attacking wives, but what eats away at me is clueless Americans who will be swayed by what a candidate's wife (or any of his surrogates for that matter) say. The only thing voters should be swayed about is the ideas, ideals, and issues that these candidates believe in.
I think you should let John McCain decide. After all, Cindy is far more vulnerable in terms of character than Michelle. Although if McCain treats a "spouse cease-fire" like he has treated his pledge to "run a clean campaign" I think it will go about as far as his pledge to oust lobbyists - except of course those who are running his entire campaign. :)
Absolutely NOT! If Michelle or Cindy is on the campaign trail, they are entitled to be scrutinized.
Michelle's anti-american comments along with those comments that she would have to think about supporting Hillary if she were nominee need to be carefully looked at.
Last year in Iowa, Obama was at the East Villiage in Des Moines. There is a gay bar close to where he was campaigning. It was warm and they often leave the door open. Several people from that bar were watching the campaign from the side lines. Michelle directed the Secret Service to have the observes move. She also had them go into the bar to order them to turn down the music and close the door. She was quoted as saying she didn't want the campaign to appear to cater to 'those' people.
She's a hater and Obama's wife. He has to agree with her at some level.
Jack, I don't think that people are that nieve these days, to think that these women are not also in their current position because of personal ambition.
All is fair...
If they want to represent the US as first lady, then they should be vetted too. If they don't want that then they shouldn't put themselves in that position.
They should be off limits, but we all know they won't be.
They shouldn't be off limits if they put themselves into the campaign.
Michele Obama has thrown a bunch of anti-American and anti-White slurs out during this campaign so she deserves to be called on it.
Cindy McCain has been staying out of things for the most part because she is a classy professional.
I think it's classless and unfair, however politics are unfair and the Republican would do and say anything to win. Just look at how Bush stole the election in 2000.
Also, I have to agree with Michelle Obama to some degree. I am proud of how fare America has come in electing an African American as the democratic nominee. That speaks volumes on how fare this country has come when dealing with racism. We are actually living out the dream Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had 40 years ago; judge people by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin. We still have some ways to go, but this should make us all proud to be Americans
C'mon, Jack! When did political partisan's ever hold back on something that might win them the election?
Jack it's okay to "vet" the candidates spouses, what is not fair is to twist their words, like the TN republicans did when they muted the word "really" out of Michelle's statements. One can only assume they muted it because they know the word "really" changes the entire meaning.
It's also fair to discuss Cindy McCains addiction to pain killers. If she kept it from her family then, and McCain didn't recognize his wife's own addiction, who's to say she's not on the sauce now?
It's also fair to discuss Cindy McCain's investments in the Sudan. It's important for her to explain to Americans why she and McCain want to benefit financially from genocide.
It's also important for Cindy McCain to explain why she would fool around with a married man.
So yes, candidate's wives are "fair" game.
Yes, they should be totally off limits, because we are voting for their husbands and certainly not the mfor the office of president.
When have they ever been "On Limits"???
I don't recall ever witnessing any candidate's wife being reviewed during an election, and seldom have after it. Only Roselyn Carter and Hillary Clinton held the after election honor: Roselyn for her husband's decision to send her overseas as a representative, and Hillary for her Whitewater decisions.
Apparently, an exception is being made for Michelle Obama. I wonder why.
Suppose the next time we all interview for jobs, they should start scrutinizing the spouse, grandparents, kids, dogs, priests and pastors. This way we will be under the same level of scrutiny and give the employers something to do with their spare time.
Give it up, leave those ladies alone.
If they campaign
They're fair game
If they stay home
Leave them alone
I don't think they should be completely off-limits, as they will essentially be a "top advisor" to the upcoming President. However, using them is a cheap shot, and I would rather see the candidates discuss the actual issues facing the country, instead of insignificant drivel like that.
Should Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain be off-limits during the campaign? Only if they keep their mouths shut! If they campaign for their husbands, make speeches, and urge the electorate to put their husbands in the White House, they should also be willing to take whatever comments made about them. After all, they're not just ordinary wives, so they can't "have their cake and eat it, too."
No way! Either of these women could be running for president within the next eight years!
I would have to hold my nose if any campaign resorts to such stinky behavior. I could care less about a comment or how much a candidate's wife grossed last year. Hopefully, a valuable lesson has been learned during the primary season concerning the great cost of becoming negative when the country clearly wants change. Since the world is watching this peculiar election season, I hope they aren't exposed to how petty American politics can be. I hope they see what's best about America or are my expectations a bit too lofty? Candidates tend to go petty when they're up against the ropes or swimming against a current. If anyone starts slinging mud on someone's wife, it magnifies a pitiful campaign strategy and gross lack of integrity.
Yes, they should be totally off limits, because we are voting for their husbands and certainly not them for the office of president.
yes, they should be off limits. talking about either of them just distracts from the real important issues facing the country. besides, we hear enough crap just from the two candidates, who wants to hear from their wives?
They should not be off limits in the capaign. For sure each one has an asset to offer. We also want to know more about them, and gives them the chance to show what they can do to be of help as a potential first lady.
I think that honest facts should be allowed to be known, but attacks by slander and insinuation should be off limits for the wives. Cindy and Michelle are both loving mothers and supportive wives. Their reputations should not be dragged through the mud just to get their husbands dirty!
Mary Lee in Tennessee
The moment they appear in any political rally or fundraiser with their spouse, or are showcased to portray the candidate as a family man, then they're fair game. Hillary and Bill paraded their daughter before all but told the press she was off limits. That alone sentds a message as to how off-base those two are.
You can't showcase the spouse when you want to and then claim family privilege when you want them "protected".
I think it is in poor taste to attack either spouses. What ever happen to judging the candidates on their policies. I am tried of politics being a personality or a beauty contest. This country is in serious trouble and we really need someone who can help put this country back on track.
redwood falls MN
Politics certainly is different in the United States. Here in Canada, I don't even think most of us even know the name of many of the spouses of the various political parties. Perhaps if Americans would concentrate more on the issues of the day affecting the country, than whom a candidate is married to, or what their minister said in church, the U.S. might be in a more positive position than they are today.
This is the "ugly side" of partisan politics which, as we have seen in the past, does not stop after the election is over. But, we voters can not simply blame "those nasty politicians" for negative campaigning. They resort to what works. If we voters do not like it, then we should ignore it and show politicians that we prefer positive campaigning that focuses on issues of public importance with their proposed policies and solutions. Can we do that?
With all the important issues of the day-the economy, the war, the energy crisis, etc., the spouses of the candidates should not be an important issue. Of course, the Ameican electorate gets easily distracted and would prefer to be sidetracked on either this or some other trivial matter.
Spouses should not be discussed unless there is corruption involved. I have been married to a brilliant woman for 4 years and she is her own woman. that I occasionally disagree with.
If the wives participate in the campaign by making speeches on their own then they should be fair game, but only for the comments or statements that they make in their speeches, not for the statements that their husbands make.
In the days of Jackie Kennedy we treated a would be firstlady like ladies,but we also had more respect for the office that their spouses were seeking. However since it was the political fatcats that dragged the positiion through the mug we should not drag their spouses into with them. Let someone in Washington walk with the dignity and grace that Mrs Kennedy held, no matter what we knew her husband ws doing we always allowed her to walk with her head up,although Womens Liberation hadnt gotten in the way and said we want the right to even be ridicule equally. Not all rights are worth having.
The last time I checked, the ballots had only the names "Barack Obama" and "John McCain" not "Mr and Mrs Obama" nor "Mr and Mrs McCain"..... the wifes should be off-limits. Attacking the wifes, to me seems like a weak/cheap hit below the belt.
I agree, lay off the wifes.
North Bay, ON Canada
Whatever happened to our mothers' advise that if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all. Not hearing about the candidates wives would be better than blasting them.
No, they are not off-limits. They will also represent our country and the people of this great nation if their husband is elected. However, it should be limited to their speeches/remarks, not the lipstick or clothing they wear. Mrs. Obama's statement “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country”, and Mrs. McCains failure to release her tax returns were justified for critique.
Unfair as it may seem, these candidates wives put themselves into the political limelight. So they can't be off limits. I think the rule should be if you insert yourself into your spouse or your parent's political campaign then you are fair game.
Add to previous comment...
It is like the old Charlie Rich song that "no one knows what goes on behind closed doors."
If a candidate's spouse is going to campaign in any way or speak in public then that spouse should definitely be open for criticism.
Timothy in Boston
With all that's at stake this election, there should be a ban on silly season in general.
Only if they stay out of the running and refrain from public expression with regard to their husband's campaign. However, if Mrs. McCain or Mrs. Obama choose to be out spoken and supportive of their respective husband's bid for the presidency, then they and the nominee should be ready to accept and deal with what ever comes their way from the media, the other party, etc., it simply comes with the territory when someone decides to speak up and be counted. After all, each candidate's wife will be a part of the presidency if elected, and America needs to know who they are and what are their views on the issues of the country and the world.
John in Arizona
If a spouse speaks on the campaign trail, then all bets are off.
Why not? But, if the best strategy of either political machine is to attack the spouse of a candidate, instead of addressing any of the critical issues at stake right now, then we're all in trouble. I hope both campaigns realize that we the American people can't afford to waste our time on such garbage.
Let's not kid ourselves. The 1st Lady does and will always have an impact on the decisions of the President. For that reason alone, she is a V.I.P. Important enough for the electorate to factor her into the equation on who we elect as President. YES, who ever she is, she is 'fair game', and in the political spotlight. We have an obligation to know the First Lady as well as we are able to. And if their husbands don't like the rules, then they should take their marbles and go play somewhere else.
Why shoud they. We are electing their husbands not them. And you should think about your mother,sister,aunt etc. Let's keep it real their
are not the issue.
America is different. Most of the rest of the world looks at this and is put in a state of bemusement.
They should not be off limits in terms of their public stances on issues and any public office they may have held and actions they took in them. As far as their private lives....WHO CARES? Why do the American people think they know someone just because they see them on TV? TV is all image and visual, and in no way lets you really know a person. When pollsters ask people if they like someone in the public eye PERSONALLY, I always laugh. They never met the person, how do they know if they like them personally? From TV? Please. What a joke. Unless candidates and their wives are secret serial killers, their private lives are just that...private.
Yes, I do think Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain should be off-limits in this campaign, except when they are participating and being quoted. I personally understood Michelle Obama's remark because I also felt, for the first time, pride in my country for the huge number of voters who saw candidates for themselves and not as a part of a racial category. I'm an 80 year old white Catholic Democrat, a woman who has waited a lifetime for this and I ardently support Barack Obama. I thought Cindy McCain's response to this banal, because it's too easy for a rich white woman who's married to a national hero to feel pride in her country.
Joyce R. Ahern, La Jolla CA.
If they are campaigning for their husbands, they are speaking for their husbands, so they should be liable for what they say, just like their husbands.
NO, they will represent America as the first lady . It is important to understand their thoughts, demeanor, education and religious beliefs. The fact that Mrs. McCain refused to release her tax returns would have been important to some Americans. The article you mentioned by Maureen Dowd in the New York Times has a web link that suggest in part that Michele Obama may have made a speech that maybe racially intolerant. The web site calls it the "whitey" speech. However, the site does not produce a copy of that tape. Jack if it exists don't you think some Ameicans may find that important.
should they be off limits?
and Cindy McCain clearly is, as you won't see Obama or his campaign attacking her.
It's too bad the republicans don't have the manners to extend the same courtesy to Michelle Obama.
But republicans are evil, heartless, and cruel. and they will do anything, anything to win.
If it means attacking somebody's wife, or mother, they'll do it.
Hah sure why not... I've got a hundred on Mrs. Obama twenty seconds into the first round.
No they should not, if they can dish it out they better be able to take it...
No, I do not think they're fair game. Neither of them will be on the ballot. Great photos of them both, by the way.
Hye, hey, hey...I thought we just got over that "ain't no difference between folks no matter what the paint job or the plumbing" . So, what the heck is this, "let's protect the spouses nonsense"!
Spouses of any level of government official are open to scrutiny...especially if he or she is involved in politics, has money or opens his/her mouth in public.
What is good for the gander is good for the goosey!
It is disingenuous to suggest that candidates' spouses be declared off-limits. Fair or not, these spouses are now public figures and subject to intense scrutiny to reveal every unflattering moment of their lives. However, they do not deserve to have these human moments warped, misstated, or taken out of context.
Here's my question for you: As a member of the media, will you promise that your reports of the candidates' spouses are consistently fair, accurate, and honest accounts? That would be the best thing for all of us.
what if a candidate is not married? are we going to start saying that single candidates have a built in advantage? the spouses are not running for anything. in most cases they married their spouses long before anyone ever considered running for president.
cindy mccain or michelle obama's views or personal business is none of my business, nor should it be.
What Josh Said.
I believe spouses are off-limits UNLESS they are involved on the political process. If they are out in public drumming up votes, they can be under the microscope. If they are out of the public eye and are only at events for their spouse in a visible supporting role only we should leave them alone
They shouldn't be off-limits as long as it is done in a respectful manner(I know..a joke). They should not try to make them out to be witches or some type of sub-human. Both Michelle and Cindy understand that this part of the game they will have to play in politics...
The Republicans should thread very lightly though...they don't seem like they would be above going after the kids with their attacks!!!
They are out there with their husbands campaigning and pushing his agenda so they become an extention to the candidates. If they say something like Michelle Obama said when she stated that this was the first time in her adult life that she was proud of her country, she becomes fair game.
Even though, I’m an Obama supporter. The wives should be off-limits. All I want to see is stories about Michelle and Cindy’s outfits, their hair, their pretty smiles, and what they plan to wear to the inaugural balls if their husbands happen to win the White House. If they say anything it should be about helping the public get to know their respective husbands. I am not interested in a TWOFER presidency. And yes, I do want to know their favorite cookie recipe!
It's pretty ridiculous that we even care about what the spouses do/don't do or say/don't say to that degree. Not surprising, however, ridiculous.
A candidate's spouse is a direct reflection of the candidate themselves. While I wholly believe that in a perfect world the parties should not have to result to attacking the prospective First Ladies, there is a lot you can learn about a person by who their friends and family are, and a prime example of both is the politician's spouse.
They should be, but they won't. Hopefully the Democratic side takes the more honorable stance Obama has proven works. The Republicans, I'm afraid, haven't progressed that far as of yet.
My wife once told me that if I ever ran for public office to leave her out of it. Spouses are not running for office and should not have their good names run through the mud. If we are ever going to have good,honest candidates,we had better clean up the system.
Off limits?? To whom, or what? Will they be benefitting from the tax dollars of millions of Americans through luxurious travel, dining and extravagant other amenities? Oh yeah, they are fair game.
Is it too much to ask from the self declared "greatest democracy on earth" to keep some respect when it comes to elect it's president? If the spouse jumps in the political discussions, his or her ideas can be discussed. All the rest bad politics. Bad behaviors will be observed and the rest of the world will draw it's conclusions.
Personal attacks and smear-campaigns should be off limits for the candidate and the candidate's family. No more sleezy politics, please. Thankyou.
If they stayed home, never did an event on their own, never made a call to ask for money, or campaigned in any way, then sure, they should be "hands off." But once you take one step over than imaginary line, well, you are in the arena. You can't have it both ways.
Spouse are important because they are often the true "chief" advisor to the President. However, the rumors and innuendo and non-stop irrelevant blather is what we don't need–no matter where it comes from.
Definitely not off limits. The president's spouse will be his closest advisor and we need to assess the influence they will provide.
If you look at Mrs McCain, I wish she was a nominee. She is a very successful business woman. She certainly has a good sense of business and can advise on spending cuts and balancing a budget.
Mrs Obama? Well, it seems she got a great promotion right after her employer recieved a huge earmark requested by Barak Obama. So I guess she can advise well on how to channel taxpayer money to herself and other special interests.
Fair game as they will provide tremendous influence on the next president.
A spouse can be a good indication of a canidate's true feelings and views. I don't think they should be attacked for their opinions but they should scrutinized like there husbands everytime they voice that opinion.
So Hillary is out and NOW we're debating whether spouses are fair game?
Both Michelle and Cindy come across as the stronger half of their marraiges, so they should get vetted.
When the spouse is active, he/she should be fair game. Bill was, Michelle andCindy are, and should take the hits.
They will represent our country if their husband is elected. No they should not be off limits.
No. I think it's the candidates job to protect his wife. Everything is fair game. If it's all they can find even better for Obama, because it will add more potency to Obama's fire when he goes after McCain. The saga continues...
Both should be left alone, but it is not going to happen this way, Otherwise it is going to be a too clean polotics. Is it possible?
For heaven's sake, can't we stick to the issues?
They do not need to be off limit.
Anyone dumb enough to attack a candidates spouce is going to lose.
Mom Bama is fully campaining for hubby – so of course shes game
Hey, people were all for attacking Hillary's HUSBAND, so Obama's & McCain's WIVES shouldn't get any different or special treatment.
Obama's wife kind of scares me... and worries me. She doesn't appear to be the most polished or brightest bulb in the box. Sometimes I think Michelle Obama needs an emergency course from Emily Post or Miss Manners.
At least McCain's wife appears to know how to conduct herself in public.
And this is from a Democrat.
Obama is running a different kind of campaign than McCain and his Republican Party. Obama will refrain from demonizing both John and Cindy and will instead focus on the issues and how wrong Senator McCain is regarding the economy, increased tax cuts for the rich, prolonging the war in Iraq, education and the like. The Republicans are certain to distort the truth and make up outright lies and anything else they can think of to destroy the character, integrity and qualifications of the Obamas. If voters are tired of these vicious tactics and can see beyond the distractions and lies that McCain and his Republicans will use to try to fool and frighten Americans with, we will see Obama elected President and a new dawn for us all.
Let's see... when Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of Hillary was stumping for her mother (and not actually mentioning Obama at all) Obama supporters called her "fair game." On the other hand when Michelle Obama speech after speech attacked all of her husband's opponents and then her rhetoric was called all these supporters were outraged. And apparently they didn't see the hypocrisy in that...
If they stay out of it and don't start doing public appearances in which they speak and make statements that are purported to be essentially true then leave them alone. If they actively campaign they should be actively challenged.
If the media doesn't play the "spouse" game, no one will know if the Republicans do. The media though seems to have different rules regarding the spouses and family members of candidates and Presidents according to which political party the person belongs to. Compare the coverage of Carter's Family to Reagan's, compare the coverage of either Bush to that of Clinton's, and look at the absence of coverage of Dick Cheney's wife and how the media cowered in a corner when he complained. Mudslinging wouldn't work if it wasn't for the media hyping it. The News Media should get back to reporting the News instead of trying to be entertainers.
No they should not be off limits but people have to leave bias out of it. Mrs. Obama is attractive, intelligent, healthy, outspoken and has as much going for her as any potential first lady. Not being white is a weird issue to bring up. If Sen Obama had married someone who is not black then they would be under as much if not more scrutiny. Yes the wives and children of politicians and public personalities are fair game but be objective.
I hope the Republicans are not planning on attacking Mrs. Obama Democratic 527s will rip Cindy McCain open in a broad day's light. We all know from the McCain's past that he isn’t the Holy Father and she isn’t Mother Theresa either.
"Judgement" and "Insight" have been tossed around by presidential candidates a lot lately. They'll be appointing a lot of people to a lot of important positions. We should be able to determine how good their judgement and insight was when they picked the most important person in their lives, and we have a right to publicly learn about someone who chose a public life.
If they actively campaign they are not off limits. Sorry Barack, Sorry John! Sorry Ladies!
Absolutely not, especially if she is out on the campaign trail giving speeches, etc. The First Lady plays an important role in her husband's presidency these days. After all, she will travel the World meeting with VIPs. We need to know who she is, what she believes in and if she has any skeletons in her closet BEFORE she becomes the First Lady.
If Michelle or Cindy campaign they open themselves for criticism. It all comes down to the source of the message- should we just accept them at their word? Question everything- including why this question keeps popping up.
In the "fraternity" of presidential politics, everybody gets hazed.
Jack Cafferty sounds off hourly on the Situation Room on the stories crossing his radar. Now, you can check in with Jack online to see what he's thinking and weigh in with your own comments online and on TV.
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