Monday, June 04, 2007

Fred Thompson's trophy wife - asset or liability?

By Libby

I'm working today so I only have time for quick post this morning and I thought I would link to the last one I did at Newshoggers on Fred Thompson's wife. This one generated more interest than I expected, thanks to a great link from Memeorandum.

Gaius and Dr. Steven Taylor linked in to accuse me of dissing Jeri for using the term trophy wife. I don't see it as a necessarily a derisive term, it's commonly used to describe such May-December marriages and I thought I was pretty clear that I had no problem with the marriage anyway. I'm curious about the effect it will have on his campaign. As I explain in the post, it does raise some questions about his character.

Jim Henley, understood where I was going with the post and thinks it will hurt Thompson. I think he's right but not for the same reasons.

Anyway, since I assume not everyone follows my every post all over Blogtopia, I thought I'd also pose the question here. What say you, my cherished Impolitic readers? Is America ready for a trophy wife as First Lady?

Update: Honest to God, I had no idea that "trophy wife" implied a brainless, golddigging bimbo which I certainly do not think describes either Jeri Thompson or the majority of May-December brides. Thanks to Beldar in comments for the timely pointer to the definition. For anyone who cares, I've explained my use of the term at Newshoggers and also my read on the responses. For the record, I think it will hurt him among a significant demographic of potential voters which has never included me for reasons that have nothing at all to do with her. And that's my last word on the subject. I've already spent more time on this than it's worth.

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Blogger Jim Martin said...

Let me be the first of the several hundred comment.
I think it would be great to have a trophy wife as First Lady. A lot of bling, a lot of makeup and a lot of peroxide. What's not to like?
Now, on the other hand, Fred is certainly no trophy. Although I have seen heads like that on a wall, most of them had hooks in their mouths.

8:15:00 AM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

Hooks in their mouths and heads full of "inert ingredients."

I have to suspect you could have called Jackie Kennedy a trophy wife, but once again, better a trophy wife than atrophy of the brain.

10:10:00 AM  
Blogger LeftLeaningLady said...

America may be ready for a trophy wife as First Lady, but PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, let her not be married to Fred Thompson. Because American can not take four more years of this BS.

12:50:00 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...

This will probably anger any male Republicans who read this, but I think Repubs are basically misogynists at heart and feel threatened by strong women. They may be ready for a trophy wife, but I doubt the vast majority of American women voters are - unless Thompson's wife is also smart. Jackie Kennedy could have been called a trophy wife, but she also had the brains.

1:06:00 PM  
Blogger beansox said...

The woman spends more on plastic surgery than most of the women they are trolling for votes from, make in year.

Im sure it leaves a bad taste in the mouths of some, just not Fred's. But what do you expect from a candidate that channels more money to his son using PAC's than he does the GOP, to whom its intended for.

1:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fred Thompson vs Hillary Clinton

When American women take a look at Fred's second wife, I'd bet Hillary's percentage of the Women's vote in '08 goes to 75%.

Women really hate the trophy wife.

2:58:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Only have a second free to answer but I'm finding the reactions fascinating. Men seem to have no problem with it at all and women seem to have no problem with the marriage but some major doubts about Fred.

Leaving aside his politics, which suck, I think wife isn't so much the issue as his leaving his first wife after 30 years so he could go out and get laid by every groupie in town before he finally settled down with a the sweet young thang. Says a lot about his character, or lack thereof.

Kathy - by the way she's super smart but not in a good way. She's neck deep in the neo-con's shit. Check out the comment section at the Newshoggers post and see some of the stuff Cernig dug up about her clients.

I'll be expanding on this later I think. I'm finding it an interesting issue.

2:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live and work in LA and wondered if you knew Jeri's nickname out here? They call her the "Hollywood Whore" for very good reasons. There are photos of her and various men in compromising situations. When he officially runs, I guarantee you they'll be everywhere. Just ask TMZ!!

5:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said... Kucinich's lady a "trophy wife"? Dennis is 30 years older than she is...

6:11:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Anon - I think you're right.

Garth - then they're well suited for each other. I hear from the gossip at the Newshogger post that Fred's exploits in his Senate office are pretty legendary. The LA connection is interesting though. It could explain the timeline I've been puzzling over. Fred stopped getting movie roles in 94. He started dating her in 96. He married her in 2002. In 2004 he started getting some movie roles again. Brings new context to the nickname, which I didn't know. Thanks for the tip.

Joe - I didn't know Kucinich's wife was that much younger and I do recall seeing their photo a while back. He still looks like a kid himself so the image didn't jar me, like this one did and I didn't investigate. But even though, if I recall correctly, Dennis was never married before, I'd say because of the age difference, by definition, yeah, she's a trophy wife. So what? It's not like he has a snowball's chance in hell of getting the nomination.

I think I've made clear I don't have a problem with the May-Dec thing. My interest and my question is not about her or whether it's appropriate. I'm asking how will it play with the average voter?

Or even the above average voter, whom I consider our readers to be. I genuinely want to know if people think she's a plus or a liability.

It's a sad statement on the adversarial nature of our society, that I can't ask a legitimate question without being accused of attacking the woman.

The irony is, I want Fred to get the slot. I don't know who I want to win the White House, but I'm sure who I don't and I don't want any of the Republicans in the field. I think Fred will be the easiest to beat.

7:03:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Correction: I just saw that Kucinich is on his third wife. Goes to show how little attention I paid to him, even though I actually supported him in 04 for the nomination.

So his wife definitely fits the trophy definition.

8:03:00 AM  
Blogger Beldar said...

Count me among those who disagree with you. In fact, I think your posts say rather more about your politics, and possibly your character, than these pictures, or the circumstances of their ages or past marriages, say about Fred Thompson and Jeri Kehn.

You say you didn't mean "trophy wife" to be disparaging. Yeah, right.

You then jump to the presumption, apparently conclusive and irrebuttable, that any time a mid-aged man divorces his wife (or she him -- do you know which it was in this instance? or are you just presuming, again) -- it's for the sole and overriding purpose of freeing him up to have sex with younger women.

(Republicans, of course, are genetically incapable of things like valuing companionship, or romance, or intellectual and philosophical equals, or expanding a family. It's just about sex. Nasty sex. Really gross nasty sex. Right?)


From what I've read, Thompson's ex-wife is expected to actively campaign for him. What facts you got to back up your ugly speculation about their break-up, or anyone's motives since then?

It's one thing to look at Jeri Kehn's career and list of clients and say, "Wow, I hate this woman and I'm going to oppose her husband even more vigorously because I disagree with her politics." That would be honorable.

But this kind of trash talk is juvenile and smarmy. The fact that you can find examples of it from both left and right never makes is anything less than ugly and bigoted and, here, really pretty sexist too.

8:09:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Beldar, it would be extremely helpful, not to mention polite, if you would have read what I said rather than what you wanted me to mean.

How you can extrapolate from my posts and comments that I automatically assume every middleaged marriage that ends is for the sole purpose of hot sex is beyond me. I didn't say that so I'm not going to defend it.

But thank you for the dictionary lessons. I'm surprised to see that the term trophy wife is so widely considered perjorative. I now understand why people have reacted so strongly to the term so that me clarify that point.

I don't have a mean bone in my body and nothing I say is ever intended to insult or belittle another person. I use the term because it's shorter than saying, his wife who is 25 years younger than him and for the millionth time, I don't have a problem with that. God bless them if it makes them happy.

My question was and remains, how the age difference, because it's so visually apparent, affect his candidacy?

9:06:00 AM  
Blogger Beldar said...

Ms. Spencer, thank you for the polite and prompt reply. In the comments on this post, you wrote:

Leaving aside his politics, which suck, I think wife isn't so much the issue as his leaving his first wife after 30 years so he could go out and get laid by every groupie in town before he finally settled down with a the sweet young thang. Says a lot about his character, or lack thereof.

Now there's no secret that Thompson dated around during his 15 years or so as a bachelor. (John Kerry, of course, did the same thing after his divorce, whose circumstances were generally left alone during the 2004 campaign, as they properly should have been.) But to jump from that, to presuming that he left his first wife so he could go out and get laid by every groupie in town .... That seems to me to be exactly the presumption I described. Age + divorce + dating + marries much younger woman = nothing but hot smarmy sex with groupies in between. That seems to be the sum total of your logic trail, unless I missed a link or a citation. If you want to disavow those words, or provide evidence to back them up, please do.

And please. You could have posted a picture, and said: "How does the age difference, because it's so visually apparent, affect his candidacy?" And stopped. If that were really your only intention.

You and I don't know one another. I'll take on faith that you aren't a mean person. But if you can't see how you appear to be mean, and sexist, in this pair of posts, I respectfully suggest that you're really out of touch. Reconsider the evidence. Take a look at your express accusations (like the one I just quoted), and then take a second look at the reasonable interpretation of your insinuations (e.g., through using the term "trophy wife"). Ask yourself if you haven't pretty much reduced Jeri Kehl to a pair of breasts, a birth certificate, a marriage license, and some really lame clich├ęs. I think you have, and I think that's pretty much the definition of sexism. Elsewhere you admit that, for example, she's apparently very bright. Well, that's useful, but does it dispel the sting from the lash strokes you already landed?

They dated for six years, for pete's sake, before they got married, and they've been married for five. But your posts have all the breathless hoo-hah of Gary Hart getting caught with Donna Rice on the Monkey Business.

I'm eager to hear Ms. Kehn speak, or to read something she's written. Maybe she's an airhead and a golddigger ... but boy, I sure don't want to leap to that conclusion, and it seems improbable from the little bit that is in the public domain about her. Join me in reserving final judgment, perhaps?

10:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

good point abuot kucinich's wife. but it does seem less sinister for some reason. mostly because it's amazing he got her. also, they look like jessica and roger rabbit together

1:40:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Beldar - I think I've finally figured out the firestorm over the use of the term trophy wife, thanks to your timely pointer to the definition. Being unversed in insults, I honestly had no idea that the term was associated with brainless golddigger, which I don't think Jeri is. I think she's probably a highly intelligent and obviously a beautiful woman and Fred is lucky to have her as a wife.

I've addressed that issue in another post at Newshoggers so I won't repeat my explanation here.

As for judging her, I thought my original post made clear that she wasn't the issue and I don't really see how speculating on Fred's behavior is a slam on her. I remind you, my original post was merely my initial reaction to the photograph which I disclosed was colored by my personal experience.

As for Fred's promiscuity, judging from the various comments I've seen, it's legendary. And I don't think it's so untoward to speculate on what the timeline reveals about his character. I may not know much about insults, but I do know about cheating husbands and other womanizers and he fits the classic pattern.

If and when, his ex-wife comes out publicly to say he's a really swell guy who never cheated on her and starts campaigning for him -- I'm happy to eat my words and apologize for suggesting otherwise.

Besides, the issue isn't sex - it's honesty. I don't care if he fucks around like an alley cat, only if he lied about it. I've got nothing against sex. I rather like it myself and I think in general Americans are much too repressed in their sexuality.

Which brings us back around to my original point. At least the one I intended. The question isn't whether what I think of Fred is appropriate or even correct. I'm not going to vote for him for many other reasons that have nothing to do with his wife or his sexual mores.

The question is will a young sexy wife help or hurt his candidacy? What say you to that?

1:46:00 PM  
Blogger Beldar said...

Having a wife much younger than he is, and as attractive as she is, like the fact that he is divorced to begin with, will hurt him with some people. Mostly they are bigots, which explains why they therefore jump to conclusions, like yours, without and indeed regardless of the evidence. ("I do know about cheating husbands and other womanizers and he fits the classic pattern" -- sheesh.)

It's likewise true, and unfortunate, that some voters will never cast a vote for Hillary Clinton because she lacks a Y-chromosome, or for Barack Obama because he's black (while some will vote against him because he's not "black enough").

I very, very much hope, though, that Sen. Thompson's political opponents will follow precisely the path you've charted, ma'am, for I am confident that there will be a backlash from it. And regardless of Sen. Thompson's fortunes as a candidate, that backlash is, I think, a good thing. Continue, please, to proclaim your open-mindedness and gentle nature as you roll through the gutter; throw in some comments, please, about the Rethuglican slime machine for good measure.

Good luck to you, and thank you again for the dialog, in which I find myself surprised to be ultimately so disappointed.

2:33:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Beldar - We've spent way too much time on this subject. If it makes you feel better to think of me as some kind of hateful bigot, so be it.

Thank you for your comments. We appreciate polite disagreement here and believe or not, I'm always open to being convinced of the error of my thinking. That you didn't sway my opinion, doesn't mean that I don't appreciate yours. Please drop by again sometime.

3:39:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Martin said...

Was there any backlash to the way Hillary Clinton was treated when she was First Lady?
Was there any outcry about the personal and vulgar attacks she suffered?
Are we offended now because Jeri is a good looking woman? If she wasn't quite so attractive but looked a little more like Hillary would we try to protect her from perceived ad hominem attacks?
There seems to be way too many hormones on the loose

4:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was an interesting question. I personally don't have a problem with Fred Thompson's having a much younger wife, just like I didn't think age was the problem with Monica giving Bill a bj.

If Monica giving Bill a bj wasn't "icky" because she was about his daughter's age, I don't see why Fred Thompson's wife being so much younger should be an issue.

If Thompson's ex comes out and campaigns for him, and if his kids (does he have kids?) do, then I'll think he probably is a decent guy, if he can stay on amicable terms with his family after a divorce.

I think we should mostly vote for people because of their policies. Their personal lives are relevent insofar as they show us what kind of people they are, though.

4:55:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Beansox - to be fair to Fred, I believe he shut that PAC because it was giving all its money to his son.

txchick - As I've said probably a million times now, I don't have a problem with the age difference either. My initial interest was in how it would impact the campaign. My problem with Fred from the start has been his politics, not his wife or his personal life. I thought it an interesting aside in what the timeline seems to imply about his character though.

7:14:00 PM  

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