September 1st, 2008

The Two Greatest Romances of Our Times: Bush and Putie-Poot, John and Sarah

by Philip Baruth

It’s worth noting that when the young John McCain decided he wanted to make a serious run for Congress, he left his first wife for a former beauty queen with the financial wherewithall to see him safely into office. Cindy McCain had, to coin a familiar phrase, the change he needed.

And it’s worth asking, we think: what does that former beauty queen think of this former beauty queen, recently dubbed “America’s Hottest Governor,” and whom her husband has now taken to referring to as his “soulmate”?

Is it VDB, or is there something oddly inappropriate about referring to your running mate as your soulmate? Can you see Bob Dole referring to Jack Kemp as his soulmate?

It’s not just that McCain only met Palin once before offering her the job, and that what they know of one another’s souls could fit in an Altoids tin. It’s not just that this smacks of George Bush managing to spy Putin’s soul after an initial 45-minute sit-down.

It’s more that the metaphor has only one real context in American life: your soulmate is your true love, your life partner, your spouse, in this case your wife.

It’s the language of eHarmony, and romantic comedies, and it can’t really be used without at least a faint suggestion of powerful inner ties, and powerful attraction.

Not suggesting that McCain plans to divorce his wife, although history might suggest as much.

No, the point is that McCain is so deep into the spin of this pick, and so unfamiliar with treating women as he would treat men in a professional context, that he’s begun to sell the ticket as a romance of sorts. A reality dating show.

That’s a very long way to go, to secure votes, and no doubt much further than Cindy McCain would prefer. Much further. Much, much further.