Feature

Fred Thompson

Is his wife too attractive?

Forget whether America's ready to elect its first black, female, or Mormon president. Now there's an even juicier question hovering over the 2008 race, said Susan Saulny in The New York Times. 'œIs America ready for a president with a trophy wife?'' The wife in question belongs to Fred Thompson, the former Republican senator and Law & Order actor whom many conservatives see as the party's best hope for holding on to the White House. At Thompson's early campaign events, Republican operatives have been struck by the buzz caused by his 40-year-old wife, Jeri, whose youth, 'œbleached blond hair,' and sexy, form-fitting gowns seem at odds with the jowly gravitas of the grandfatherly Thompson, 64. 'œThe question may seem sexist, even crass,' but among the Christian 'œvalues voters' to whom Thompson must endear himself in the primaries, will his much younger wife 'œbe a help or a hindrance?'

I agree: That really is one crass and sexist question, said Catherine Price in Salon.com. It's bad enough that in 2007 a woman still has to answer charges 'œthat she's a 'bimbo' just because she's attractive.' (For the record, Jeri Thompson is a former Senate aide and Republican National Committee spokeswoman.) But what possible bearing, even in the minds of 'œvalues voters,' could Mrs. Thompson's youth or beauty have on her husband's suitability to be president? None, said syndicated columnist Ron Hart. It's true that 'œbig-haired Baptist women'' may resent Thompson for marrying such a young, stylish woman, but if he can get past them in the Republican primaries, Jeri will actually serve as a plus for his campaign. Like it or not, 'œwe live in an increasingly looks-driven society,'' and Jeri holds a certain undeniable appeal to a crucial demographic'”males between the ages of 18 and 102. Way to go, Fred.

Dick Polman

The Philadelphia Inquirer

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