I have long thought it rather incongruous that the party of the “values voter” (the GOP) was offering all the candidates with horrendous personal histories related to family values while the party favored by those who seem intent on eliminating any traditional definition of family offered candidates with relatively clean personal lives in the family values department. I decided to do some research to see if this was a matter of gut-reaction, media coverage, or just plain reality.
Among the Republicans it has been fairly well covered that Giuliani was on his third marriage after a variety of extra-marital affairs, that Thompson was quite publicly a philanderer between his two marriages, and that Gingrich (who narrowly decided not to run) was having an affair that would end the second of his three marriages while he was prosecuting Bill Clinton for an affair that failed to end his marriage. Virtually nothing has been said about the extra-marital activities of McCain that ended his first marriage.
Among the Democrats I vaguely recalled that Biden was on his second marriage after his first wife died in a car crash. So a second marriage with a sterling personal history. I also remembered that Kucinich was married to a wife half his age – turns out this is his third marriage. to be fair to all the candidates I looked at those who I had no indication of having any reputation for familial instability and discovered that Dodd is in his second marriage. While Clinton seems to have a sound record personally on marriage there is always the specter of her husband to scare away any expectation of a scandal free term in the white house on those grounds.
This is not intended to malign any of the candidates – it was really a fact check against the gut reaction. Like most other people I believe each person has the ability to change their habits and lives but it was disturbing that so many of the Republican candidates had rocky marital histories while so few of the democrats did. It was also disturbing to see how much more was made of the personal failings of those Republican candidates when nothing was said of similar situations for democratic candidates (Dodd and Thompson have eerily similar marital histories but only Thompson’s history was ever mentioned that I can recall.)
If GOP voters really believe in family values it would be hard to tell based on many of the leaders that are coming forward for the party.