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Tuesday February 27, 2001

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How political women should pick their men

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By Lora J. Mackel

Ladies, we have arrived. It is now accepted that women obtain high positions in our national government. There is, however, much for womankind to learn about life in the political limelight.

For women, life in the public eye carries extra burdens, one of which is the scrutiny of wedded partnership. Hillary is only one example of a woman being eclipsed by her poor choice of a husband. She is not the first, nor will she be the last woman to suffer political strangulation by the matrimonial noose. Lest we let our sisters who come before us suffer unnecessarily, we must take lessons from their difficulties.

It is therefore time that all women who desire to go into politics learn the special art of acquiring a trophy husband.

Marriage is unavoidable for political women. A single woman is too threatening, too independent to fly with our more traditional citizens. To succeed in Washington, a woman must be attached. Trophy husbands must be carefully selected. Ensnaring them is an art which, if not properly executed, can backfire and ruin your future political reputation. When choosing a trophy husband, one must have the following qualifications in mind: Is the said candidate vague in both appearance and intelligence? What does his occupation say about you? How well does he photograph? Can he be tethered securely to your home? Does he exude a wholesome sexuality, neither too much nor too little?

As a future lawmaker, you must be aware of appearances. Careful attention must be paid to your husband's job. Occupations that are highly desirable in a trophy husband are that of pediatrician or veterinarian. Nobody in this country, except for the cranky and the elderly, can resist small children or animals. Both professions are both reassuringly cerebral, and at the same time comfortingly non-threatening.

Additionally, they are on the same professional par as a legislator. One hard and fast rule of political marriage: A political husband must never eclipse or be eclipsed.

And never, never, never marry a lawyer. This policy is sound regardless of your career aspirations.

For you more patriotic politicians, you cannot go wrong with a military officer. For one, the uniform photographs extremely well. The fact that your husband is sure to be out of the country a great deal, and therefore out of your hair, is an added inducement. If you're a Green party candidate, an extremely liberal democrat, or from Vermont, you might want to consider another option; a military man might be more of a liability than an asset. Try for an heir to the Birkenstock fortune.

Next, on to the care and maintenance of your trophy husband. The political masses are not eager to see, in either a man or a woman, a great deal of attractiveness or charisma. It only makes them feel pedestrian. Therefore, in the aesthetics department, you want your husband to look more Land's End than Hugo Boss. Graying at the temples never hurt anyone. All hair styles and hats must be approved by your staff and yourself.

Your trophy must be trusted not to stray. A cheating husband just looks bad, as if you could not even hold your most loyal constituents. He must also be enough to satisfy, ahem, your needs. A male politician can get away with the "you ole dirty dog" behavior, but the public is never that kind to women. Women are an accepted fact in Washington, but the public is still weary of them, distrustful of their ability to juggle their socially accepted role as wife, mother and politician.

A woman in this delicate position cannot afford to be running after an errant spouse. If she uses the tenets laid down by the mistakes of her predecessors, she is sure to succeed. Selecting the right trophy husband is the keystone in a successful political career.