08/22/07 — Family debate: How much should voters care about a candidate’s family?

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Family debate: How much should voters care about a candidate’s family?

Another day and another slip up on the campaign trail. This time, Barack Obama’s wife, Michelle, is alleged to have made a snide remark about her husband’s opponent’s ability to maintain a family.

Of course, the Obama campaign says her remarks were commentary only on her need to keep her own brood in line — not any reference to Hillary Clinton’s marital issues. A dispassionate observer could say it could swing either way.

But even if the whole thing is a media creation, the latest talk is a stark reminder that when it comes to presidential politics it really isn’t just about the issues.

And that leads to the question: How much should a presidential candidate’s family life play into his or her campaign for the office?

That sort of question has already been an issue in both parties’ races, with questions being raised about everything from Rudy Giuliani’s divorce and his relationship to his children to the Clinton marriage and whether it is real or not. Even the Edwards family has been scrutinized over Elizabeth Edwards and her comments and cancer fight.

And that is just the beginning.

Sometimes presidential politics takes on more of a feel of a primetime soap opera than a reasoned debate about the future of America.

While family stories might be interesting, they should be minor players when determining who would be best to lead the nation. They only tell part of the story about the candidate and are not necessarily a predictor of future behavior.

Issues are — and should be — what matter.

Published in Editorials on August 22, 2007 12:13 PM