The case of the missing Mrs

The missing Mrs

How dare she have a life!

Although it has been going on for months — it only seems like years — the Democratic presidential primary season is about to start for real next week with the Iowa caucuses. And won't we all be happier when they're over? There's no lack of issues: health care, jobs, leadership, Iraq, and so forth. Amazingly, another issue has become top of mind for some, among them Fox News and the New York Times (and when did you think those two would agree on anything?). Yes, the burning issue which has swept the continent is: Where's Mrs. Dean?

Personally, I didn't know she was missing, but apparently her whereabouts have become of great concern. What seems to bother some people is that she is not properly playing her role in this little drama, namely The Wife.

George and Laura demonstrate the proper role of The Wife Laura Bush demonstrates how to play the role of The Wife

We all know how it is supposed to be done. The Wife must always be at The Candidate's side or standing slightly behind. The Wife must be meticulously coiffed, clad, and cosmeticized. The Wife must carry upon her face an expression of rapt adoration.

And Mrs. Dr. Dean is not playing the part. She's not there in Iowa, pretending to be interested in the price of corn. She's not on the campaign trail, giving sweet speeches about what a loving man and honorable man her Dr. Dean is, and how he is just what this country needs.

No, it seems that Mrs. Dr. Dean is also a Dr. Dean, and she is quite happy seeing her patients. She doesn't appear to wear make-up, wears sensible clothes, and — gasp and gadzooks! — has a green shag carpet in their house. If ever there was a candidate for a Queer Eye make-over, it would seem to be Mrs. Dr. Dean.

This has upset the media applecart in a peculiarly American way. Other countries seem to understand that they are electing the politician, not the politician's wife and children. How often have you seen Madame Chirac, or Frau Schröder, or Señora Fox? Not very often, except when they visit the US and have to be trotted out for photo ops. Did we see Mr. Thatcher gazing adoringly up at Margaret when she made speeches? Hardly. Did we see Mr. Meir rapturous over Golda's speeches? Didn't happen.

The Deans The Deans. Photo from

It was inevitable, I suppose, that someone would get their knickers in a twist over Mrs. Dean's lack of cooperation. There's a script for these things, after all! Curiously, no one seems to have been interested in where Mr. Mosley-Braun has been, only in Mrs. Dean. The cynic might suggest that the sudden media interest, after months and months of campaigning, arose now at the instigation of some political operative in another candidate's camp as yet another way to take pot shots at Dr. Dean.

And just as Dean has suddenly expressed an interest in religion, he has just as suddenly brought Mrs. Dean out into the open for an interview with People Magazine. Just to prove there really is a Mrs. Dean.

By the way, Dennis Kucinich hasn't got a chance in this election, and not just because he's about as far out of the mainstream as Michael Jackson. No, the real reason he hasn't got a chance is because he hasn't got a Mrs. Kucinich.

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