It's undeniable that the spouses and families of Obama, Biden, McCain and Palin have played a substantial part in the election narrative, and their public prominence has inspired Slate's Melinda Henneberger to ask, "when is the public going to figure out what it expects from political marriages? How long are we going to keep insisting that political couples tell us lies and then punishing them for doing so?"She notes the duplicity of the McCains and the Edwardses, who like to paint their marriages as perfect partnerships, while the reality is long periods of separation and callousness or infidelity. The obvious solution, as Henneberger explains, is for Americans to "stop forcing [politicians] to present these phony tableaux," but I think that's not going to be possible for a good long while. I mean, many people don't want to vote for Obama because they believe he's not a Christian — would these same, narrow-minded folks be willing to vote for a candidate whose personal life did not even attempt to exemplify "Christian" values? This presidential election has a lot of breakthroughs, the first black candidate, the second female candidate, but all four of the candidates are Christian, married, and have children. Sure, McCain has been divorced, but he quickly reconstructed a nuclear family. Like Alec Baldwin's character said in The Departed, "Marriage is an important part of getting ahead: lets people know you're not a homo; married guy seems more stable; people see the ring, they think at least somebody can stand the son of a bitch." Henneberger thinks that by trying to debunk their "perfect" veneer, the Obamas are handling the scrutiny in the best way possible. Barack has debunked it "by writing very honestly about times in their marriage when they were barely speaking, and [Michelle] by telling us over and over that putting people on pedestals is always dangerous, for all concerned." With our 24-hour news cycle, I can only imagine that the scrutiny political couples face will get worse, not better, and that's compounded by the fact that a political marriage is far more stressful to begin with than the average union. The sheer enormity of a high political office leaves precious little time to pick up your kids from soccer practice, as Henneberger points out. I can't imagine signing up for this sort of life, either as the candidate or the spouse. … Or For Worse [Slate] Related: Political Sex Scandals: Obama, McCain & Palin [Huffington Post]