Republican wives adding ‘authenticity’ to husbands’ campaigns makes NY Times editorial board member ‘gag’

By | September 13, 2022

New York Times editorial board member Michelle Cottle mocked the wives of current Republican Party politicians and candidates for appearing in their husbands’ campaign ads. 

Cottle’s Monday editorial expressed disdain for what she described as these candidates’ cynical ploy for their wives to tout their “authenticity” and “soften their images.”

She opened her piece in almost exasperated fashion, stating, “Ready or not, here come the political wives.” Cottle wrote, “It’s that time in the campaign cycle when many nominees, especially those running for statewide office, shift from stirring up their base to making themselves more palatable to the general electorate,” as if GOP candidates using their significant others was part of the political formula. 

The opinion writer explained that this year, GOP wives are looking to help their husbands among the female voter base, especially after the overturning of Roe V. Wade in the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision. 

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“This year, the Republican Party is under particular pressure to slap a friendly face on its nominees, with a special focus on wooing women. Abortion has exploded as the midterms’ X factor, thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling that women do not have a right to bodily autonomy coupled with a push by many conservative lawmakers to slash abortion access,” Cottle wrote.

She cited GOP strategist Chuck Coughlin, who recently admitted that Republicans are ‘getting killed among women.’” She then quipped, “Cue the emergence of gauzy campaign ads starring the wives of Republican Senate hopefuls getting personal about their hubbies, several recently spotlighted by Politico.”

The editorial board member mentioned the appearances of the wives of four prominent GOP candidates, J.D. Vance, Blake Masters, Joe O’Dea and Adam Laxalt in their campaign ads and summed up each in a single word. “Gag,” she declared.

Cottle noted the history of using wives in campaign ads, writing, “Political candidates using their wives — and it is still wives way more often than husbands — as campaign props is nothing new. Their kids too.” 

“American voters tend to fetishize ‘authenticity’ in their political candidates,” she explained, adding, “And who better to give voters a sense of the real person behind the political mask than his family — most especially his devoted life partner.”

Delving into the psychology behind it, Cottle claimed, “If the candidate’s wife — and the mother of his children — thinks he’s a good guy, then it must be so.”

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Though she noted that she’s tired of the shtick. “Spare me. The notion that there is some meaningful insight about a candidate to be had from his spouse praising him in ads or defending him in interviews or simply appearing at his campaign events is weak at best.”

Cottle was not afraid to provide examples. “Gov. Ron DeSantis’s wife, Casey, may genuinely believe he’s the cat’s pajamas; that doesn’t change the guy’s disturbing authoritarian Trumpiness. Just because Heidi Cruz sticks with him does not make Senator Ted Cruz any less of a smirking, self-righteous, sedulously opportunistic jerk.”

She also mentioned the former First Lady, writing, “Melania Trump’s willingness to put up with Donald’s vileness tells us far more about her than him.”

Cottle condemned the whole exercise as a “gimmick” that is “not only trite but also distracting — and insulting to female voters.” “They are eager to change the subject and to convince women that they are not scary extremists — and several are looking to their wives for a big assist,” the columnist observed. 

She concluded, “Women who value the ability to control their own bodies should make clear at the polls that they are too smart to fall for this lazy whitewashing.”