Feingolds Getting Divorced
As you've probably already heard, earlier this week Senator Feingold and his wife Mary announced that they are getting divorced. The most in-depth article about this can be found on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's page and I recommend reading it. While the Feingolds have stated that they are splitting amicably and absolutely nothing scandalous has been mentioned in the stories, many pundits and political junkies are saying that this is the end for a possible Feingold for President campaign. Meanwhile, most of my fellow Feingold supporters seem to feel that it doesn't matter, or at least, shouldn't matter.
I agree that, ideally, the Senator's divorce shouldn't affect his presidential chances. Unfortunately, presidential politics is definitely not an ideal world, and honestly I can see why this might make some Democrats less willing to support him in the primary. Skeptics of a Feingold candidacy can now add "recently divorced for the second time" to the list of reasons why Senator Feingold supposedly can't win in red states (along with his being progressive, Jewish and a northerner). In addition, I can understand if people from either party are reluctant to support a divorced candidate after what happened with Jack Ryan in Illinois. The media loves scandals (covering the issues is boring!), divorces are a good place to find scandals, and the media will dig all the way through divorce records trying to find a scandal, and they'll blow everything they find out of proportion. It shouldn't be that way, but it is. So I can understand seeing a candidate with a divorce, especially a recent one, as trouble waiting to happen.
That said, I still support Senator Feingold for President 100%. Why? Well, if you've been following the blog since the beginning, you'll remember that my main reason for supporting him wasn't that he's the most obviously electable candidate: it was that I think he'd be the best President. That hasn't changed. He still has what both America and the Democratic Party needs the most: courage, integrity, and real leadership. He's still capable of putting forward an intelligent, articulate, real alternative to GOP policies. He still has one of the best records in politics in terms of the protecting the environment, standing up for civil liberties, and opposing corporate free trade agreements that are bad for workers here and abroad. He still always puts the public interest ahead of special interests. He'd still be a great candidate and a great president.
I am sad to hear about his divorce, and my thoughts are with the Senator, Mary, and the rest of their family, but it doesn't change my feelings about his ability as a presidential candidate.
Two additional notes:
1. Since this news broke, I've seen a number of people commenting about the number of presidents who never married, or married in the White House, and other historical trivia. Here's one bit I don't think anyone I've seen has mentioned: the Democrats have previously nominated a presidential candidate who got divorced less than four years before the election, Adlai E. Stevenson in 1952.
2. If you are interested in seeing one version of how the modern news media might treat a single US President, you should really see the movie The American President. Great writing (Aaron Sorkin), a great cast, and...the President is from Wisconsin!
Sorry, kind of a silly note, but it's one of my two favorite movies. If you are interested in seeing a movie about a teenager who travels back in time to 1955 and runs into his parents, you should see my other favorite movie, Back to the Future.