In today's Wall Street Journal, a reader named L.H. from Ohio writes to columnist Sue Shellenbarger:
You wrote that living in a Blue State reduces the odds of divorce. Democrats divorce at a lower rate than Republicans? I find that very difficult to believe.Shellenbarger responds that the so-called "blue" states have lower divorce rates than "red" ones for a variety of reasons, including education levels that inspire the affianced to think long and hard about all the reasons for getting married before they hop the Greyhound to Vegas (resulting in lower overall marriage levels and a reduction in the reasons for divorce in the first place.) My problem with "L.H. from Ohio"'s letter is that I find it sort of difficult to believe that he/she would even ask the question, especially in an election year like this one.
Because, really? Let's count our long-marrieds who were actual contenders in the race this year: Democratic front-runners Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards and Bill Richardson are all still on their first marriages. But on the Republican side, only Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, both famously very religious, have stuck by the first women to whom they promised "for better or for worse." Last-man-standing John McCain divorced his first wife for Cindy, Fred Thompson left his first wife and picked up a younger model and Rudy Giuliani is famously on his third wife.
Perhaps it hasn't occurred to L.H. that many politicians on the right come from the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do school of thinking. Abstinence-only education and encouraging people to marry and stay married is for the electorate — the minor party functionaries and the voters who want to believe that the 1950s was the best decade in American history — not the ruling class. Because if history is any indication, the leader will likely keep leaving their wives for younger women and boning the interns. It's always good to have someone to cushion the fall when you're knocked off that high horse!
Work & Family Mailbox [Wall Street Journal]