Michelle Obama, the wife of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, was a guest host on ABC’s morning show The View, in part of a public relations makeover. (The New York Times, free registration) Cindy McCain, the wife of GOP rival John McCain, appeared on The View in April and is now touting her charity work with children. A new poll shows voters had favorable opinion of Obama more than McCain, but more voters also view Obama unfavorably. (ABC News)
What the commentators said
Both women used their appearances on The View to smooth over a “campaign kerfuffle,” said Alessandra Stanley in the International Herald Tribune. For Obama it was a comment about being proud of her country for the first time, and for McCain it was because purported family recipes on her husband’s campaign site were “copied word-for-word from ones by Rachael Ray.” Obama, like Hillary Clinton in 1992, had to show she isn’t “a little too authentic to be a first lady,” while McCain, like Nancy Reagan in 1980, needed to show she isn’t “too fake.”
Can we “stop treating the candidates’ spouses as embarrassing stereotypes”? said Michelle Cottle in The New Republic’s The Plank blog. So Cindy McCain, and Bill Clinton for that matter, “borrowed” a few recipes. “Surely we can come up with, if not a less ridiculous, at least a more honest or relevant way for these spouses to prostrate themselves for our amusement.”
Like it or not, “political wives matter a lot these days,” said Joe Gandelman in the blog The Moderate Voice. This is likely to be a “bitter election,” and “partisans on both sides” will use—and repeat incessantly—all "negative imagery” they have. Attacking the candidate’s wife is a way to say, “Just remember: if you vote for HIM you get HER!!” So expect “some highly quotable comments” from Cindy and Michelle as election day draws closer.