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Posted by on Mar 30, 2018 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 0 comments

Are the Family Members of Politicians Fair Game for Criticism?

 

 

Yesterday, the husband of Trump Administration spokesperson Kellanne Conway was caught deleting a series of personal tweets that were highly critical of the president.

My question is — why?

Why did Mr. Conway feel any need to delete something he believes?  Furthermore, why was this newsworthy?  Mr. Conway isn’t running for anything.  He holds no position inside the Trump Administration.  He’s a private citizen.

Doesn’t every individual have the right to an opinion and the freedom to express it?  If Kellyanne Conway’s husband tweeted out that President Trump acts like a chimpanzee, why does it matter?  His personal comments are no reflection on her.  It’s only a reflection on him and an honest expression of opinion.

I’m baffled as to why family members of politicians should be required to fall in iron lockstep with orthodoxy.  Does anyone really expect each family member of every elected official to agree 100 percent of the time on all the issues?  If that’s the case, then that’s not a marriage.  It’s blind servitude.

Politicians will say what they say and do what they do.  But the many wives, husbands, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, mothers, and fathers of those who run for high office should never be expected to subjugate themselves nor hide their views.

My opinion on this is non-partisan.  It doesn’t matter which family member of what politician belonging to whichever party is expressing an opinion.  Everyone should be entitled to their views.  Moreover, no action, no embarrassment, and no arrest should negatively reflect on the politician.  When President George W. Bush’s twin daughters were caught drinking while underage in the midst of his presidency, that shouldn’t have been newsworthy.  They were typical 19-year-old girls doing what most college students do.  Leave them alone.

Many years ago, actress Elizabeth Taylor was married to Sen. John Warner, a Republican from Virginia.  Taylor was widely criticized when she broke ranks with her husband and announced during a campaign interview that she was pro-choice on abortion.  She still loved and fully supported Sen. Warner.  She even campaigned at his side.  But the couple had an honest difference of opinion on that issue.  So what?  Taylor managed to deflect the criticism because, well — she was Liz Taylor.  The family members of most candidates and family members aren’t quite as lucky.  They’re muzzled.

I think it’s terribly unfair to attack the family members of most politicians.  This especially applies to the way they look.  Perhaps the most unfortunate recent instance of a family member who faced constant ridicule for her physical appearance was Chelsea Clinton.  If Chelsea had been anyone else but the first daughter of two controversial political leaders, she wouldn’t have attracted a second glance nor even a mention.  But since she was a Clinton, Chelsea even as a child became an inviting target.  I find resorting to such depths disgraceful.

What about the current administration?  What about President Trump’s kids?  What about his wife?  What about his ex-wives?  Are they fair game?

It all depends.  President Trump has appointed at least two of his immediate family members — daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared — to be advisors and adjunct diplomatic envoys.  Both have offices inside the White House.  Both have voluntarily assumed various responsibilities of leadership within the administration.  Hence, both became fair game.

What about more personal stuff?  Should Ivanka have been asked about her daddy’s dirty deeds as she was in an interview a few weeks ago when his serial peccadillos came up during a televised media appearance?  Absolutely.  She’s fair game because she’s a high-profile advocate for her father.

Trump’s two sons — Donald Jr., and Eric — are also fair game.  Why?  Both Trump sons have openly tweeted many times and frequently spoken out in the media on serious political matters, especially relating to their abrasive father.  They’ve also launched public attacks against critics and have even spoken at political rallies.  Even more pertinent — there’s clear evidence both are profiting handsomely from their cozy business relationships which are tied to their obvious association with the White House.  Both are completely fair game.

First Lady Melania Trump is a much tougher question to ponder.  Surely, grace and even some latitude should be extended to the person who’s married to the president.  Traditionally, first ladies have been expected to assume a certain role, and willingly become a servant.  Were she to face cameras and be interviewed, I’m not sure there’s any rationale for Melania to be asked about such a private matter.  Unlike Ivanka and Jared who are globetrotting the world willingly advancing the Trump agenda, Melania seems much less linked to policy.  That said, her “anti-bullying” campaign does seem ironic given the attack dog nature of her husband.

It’s hard to remember the last independent and outspoken first lady who deviated in any meaningful way from the president’s platform.  Betty Ford comes to mind on the Equal Rights Amendment, which was a hot topic during the mid-1970’s (President Gerald Ford was against the ERA).  But she didn’t stay in the White House for long (just two years) and became far better known for her advocacy of addiction issues after the Fords left the White House.

It seems at least two close Trump Family members deserve to be excluded from public criticism, and even matters of mass speculation — what’s often referred to in the media as “palace intrigue.”  According to my knowledge, daughter Tiffany Trump has kept her distance from all the turmoil.  She hasn’t given any interviews nor expressed her opinions on social media.  It seems terribly unfair to lump her in with political activism and thus subject her to criticism.  Secretly, she may harbor some serious concerns about the harm her father is doing to the country.  Who knows?  I say, leave her alone.

Barron, Trump’s 12-year-old son, also deserves a pass for no other reason than he’s way too young for scrutiny and shouldn’t be subject to the same spotlight as his older brothers.  During the 2016 presidential campaign, I found speculation about Barron’s mental capabilities to be quite disgusting.  Perhaps Barron will turn out as bad as his dad.  Then, maybe he’ll take another route in life.  But please — let’s give the kid a chance.

Sadly, President Obama’s immediate family was viciously attacked, especially by the far-Right.  Obama’s two daughters — Sasha and Malia — appeared to be excellent students and model children.  But that didn’t stop the racial slurs.  The ceaseless barrage of stomach-turning comments about the first family went on for eight years.  It was despicable.

Which brings me back to Mr. Conway, who made those nasty tweets about President Trump.  I say, leave him alone.  And let Kellyanne Conway do her job without being queried about her husband’s views.

It’s time we allow all individuals to express their personal views without regard to their last name and who they’re related to.  It’s also past time we leave those alone who, for whatever reason, choose not to be involved politically.

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