creators.com opinion web
Liberal Opinion Conservative Opinion
Suzanne Fields
Suzanne Fields
31 Oct 2014
When History Didn't End in Germany

RUGEN, Germany. Americans groove on the exhilaration of argument and accusation as the midterm elections … Read More.

24 Oct 2014
Troubled Times for Angela Merkel With the Leading Men in Her Life

BERLIN. Angela Merkel tops the Forbes magazine list of the hundred most powerful women in the world for the … Read More.

17 Oct 2014
A Different Gun Fight at Gender Gap in the 'War on Women'

The Democratic "war on women" has fallen into a time warp, and it's losing traction. Women don't want to be … Read More.

Family Values Without the Wink

Comment

Every campaign has a storyline, a theme — one written by the candidate's spinners, another by the opposition's trimmers and one, usually the accurate one, hidden in plain sight. Mitt Romney's pushing the storyline of his successful business experience. But his strength against Newt Gingrich, still his chief rival despite Rick Santorum's burst of speed in this week's caucuses of beauty contests, is the authenticity of family values.

Callista Gingrich, pale and pretty in '50s retro, has been compared to Pat Nixon in a plastic, Stepford-wife stance next to her man, a stoic in a sculpted metallic helmet hairdo. Ann Romney, by contrast, looks comfortable as the earthy, robust, naturally fashionable mother/grandmother figure who could grace the cover of a magazine devoted to glam grandmothers. She expresses a depth drawn from her experience guiding five sons to maturity and connecting now with her 16 grandchildren.

Many conservatives in their early flirtation with Newt overlooked the appeal of the candidate who actually lives by the family values they say they admire. Even in an expected unflattering portrait of Mitt in Vanity Fair, he stands out as a family man combining the best of his Mormon teachings as they apply to his marriage and his children. He looks like he believes the teaching of his church that "no other success can compensate for failure in the home."

His wife Ann tells how Mitt would call home from the road, and hearing distress and frustration in her voice, tell her, "Just remember, your job is more important than mine." His wife and sons show no signs of walking the walk with a wink and a nudge we see in so many politicians.

The closely knit family, however, poses problems for Mitt the politician, who doesn't display spontaneous warmth outside the circle of family and close friends, who lacks the easy authenticity we expect from candidates.

If he shows too much public pride in his faith, the source of his family values, he risks irritating the evangelical Christians who have strong theological differences with Mormonism. But his reticence suggests a coldness that others interpret as lacking warmth and connection. He can be engaging, even warm, in small groups of people he knows, but his habitual self-discipline in an age that doesn't appreciate discipline doesn't translate well. One critic accused him of "having had his sweat glands removed." Faking warmth and practicing spontaneity is not easy. Only the best politicians can do it and make it look authentic.

But women as well as men may be beginning to see the family man appeal. The man married to the same woman for 42 years beat the man married three times by 22 percentage points among women in Florida, prevailing across every category of education and income. Healthy after tough battles with multiple sclerosis and breast cancer, Ann Romney is now speaking up more to tell their story. Not known for her feminism, she was nevertheless the first wife to be included in the official Massachusetts State House gubernatorial portrait, reflective of their separate contributions and strengths. No doubt she looks forward to sharing a family portrait in the White House.

Write to Suzanne Fields at: sfields1000@aol.com. To find out more about Suzanne Fields and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2012 CREATORS.COM



Comments

0 Comments | Post Comment
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right:  
Creators.com comments policy
More
Suzanne Fields
Oct. `14
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
28 29 30 1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31 1
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Marc Dion
Marc DionUpdated 3 Nov 2014
Brent Bozell
Linda Chavez
Linda ChavezUpdated 31 Oct 2014

26 Dec 2008 Politics and Poetry in Season

18 Jul 2014 Living History at Ground Zero

18 Oct 2007 Let's Hear It for the Old Fogies