June 22, 2006

What Senators do for fun.

In an interview with GQ, Russ Feingold talks about Hillary Clinton, whom he traveled to Iraq with (along with John McCain):
What was it like traveling with Hillary?

It was a blast.

(That would be your question too, right?)
It was a great group. First of all, to be able to sit there and watch Hillary Clinton and John McCain just shoot the breeze? I mean, I felt like, whatever I had to do to get here? It was worth it.
Still not clear why it was "a blast."
Did they like each other, Hillary and McCain?

I think so. Absolutely. She was fun. She’s got a great sense of humor.
This is like trying to talk to your kids about how school was today. Short answers. No details.
Tell me how. Give me an example.
Yeah, please.
She likes to laugh. If somebody says something outrageous, she pursues it and makes them defend it. Or she can give them a hard time, which I really enjoy. I remember one night she said, “That’s enough work—let’s hear some good stories.” I can’t give you all the details. [smiles]
So I guess I just have to construct my own picture here. Somebody says something, and she makes them defend it. And Russ is looking on having a grand time. Well, I guess the somebody is McCain. And the "something outrageous" is some Republican idea that liberals don't like. And old Hillary "pursues it," just keeps questioning the old guy. Hilarious. What Senators do for fun.
Did she pack more than everybody else?

What’s that?

Did she pack more than everybody else?

[laughs] That would be a dangerous area for me to get into, because I may pack a little more than I should.

So you pack like a girl?

There would be those who would say that. And it would not be the easiest thing to deny.
Hey, it's GQ.
Let’s talk about this twice-divorced thing.


How much of a political liability do you think it will be?

I have no idea. If it is, so be it. That’s up to the people to decide.
What can he say? It is what it is. Which is, obviously a big political liability.
What’s it like to be a single senator?

It’s new to me. You sort of end up working a whole lot. There’s a tendency to let the time get filled up. So I’ve been very careful—

So you’ve become less social?

No, probably more social, in the sense that because you don’t have a spouse—see, when you’re married, you really feel an obligation to spend all that available time with your spouse if you can. I’m able to spend more time with more people now. I’m reconnecting with a lot of people and old friends.


Um, that’s, uh, classified?

Are there women throwing themselves at you?

I certainly wouldn’t say that. [smiles] I’m not gonna say that.

You know, there’ve been some legendary single senators.

Yeah, I know. I’m not aspiring to be in that hall of fame.
You're not going to get anything good out of him on questions like that, but his initial response was telling. He just plunges himself into work. Or is that what he's always done -- which could explain two divorces. Note how he reacted to the question "So you’ve become less social?" I think that was purely political. His answer to the previous question may have been quite honest. That "less social" question, though, set off an alarm and he rushed to protect himself. No way does he want to be perceived as a reclusive loner. Obviously, he's got to put a lot of thought into how to present himself with questions like this if he's going to run for President.


David said...

He talks about the "obligation" to spend his spare time with his spouse. His ex-wife is better off without this guy and his obligatory family time.

So much for family values!

PatCA said...

What a girlie man!

JazzBass said...

the bankruptcy of the progressive/liberal mind on display.
not a tinker's damn worth of difference between the left and right sides of the aisle when it comes to patrician attitudes about constituents or his own family. my, i do paint with a broad brush,

Jacques Cuze said...

McCain: Affair, divorce.

Gingrich: Affair, divorce, affair, divorce.

Giulani: Affair, divorce, crossdressing.

Reagan: divorce, introduced no-fault divorce.

Jacques Cuze said...

Condi: single. Rumored to be a lesbian. Rumored to be having an affair with the President.

Known facts: has in fact referred to the President as "my husband." Bought very expensive shoes. Looks good in dominatrix gear.

SteveR said...

I suppose its just me but the idea of flying halfway around the world with a group of senators does not sound like fun.

"Hey remember how we slipped that amendment into the appropriations bill at the last minute?"

"oh yeah, what a blast, ha ha!"

Jacques Cuze said...

Althouse: divorced, eligible, favors gay rights, tall, blond, stern, dresses in black, likes control, uniforms, mysteriously single.

Rumored to be having affair with Republican Party. Favors abortion rights. Admits to parenting at least two children. Claims to know children's father.

tiggeril said...

Hey, HEY! Are you faulting Condi's taste in shoes? If you are, we're gonna have to rumble, Jacques.

Truly said...

quxxo: Can't you go waste somebody else's bandwidth?

Paul Brinkley said...

I see tcd's prediction about quxxo came true.

jeff said...

Ann, why you continue to like Russ Finegold escapes me.

Note that Sen. Finegold was the only senator that voted to continue discussions on this issue.

Mark Daniels said...

It's difficult to know what impact divorce has on people's presidential prospects these days.

Nelson Rockefeller's very public divorce and rapid remarriage seemed to decimate his chances of nomination by the Republicans in 1964.

Yet, four years later, the divorced Ronald Reagan was a viable contender for the nomination. But by that time, he and wife Nancy had been married for some time. The circumstances of his divorce and remarriage some time later were very different from those surrounding Rockefeller.

My guess is that divorce is only a liability to a candidate if it appears she or he has taken a cavalier attitude about the whole thing and learned nothing or matured little in the intervening time. (How one explains Bill Clinton's ability to pass muster with voters on this score is a little beyond me. But then, if you look up Clinton in the dictionary, the definition is "anomaly." And, of course, in spite of their problems, the Clintons have stuck with each other through thick, thin, and thin.)

Feingold is in much the same position as Newt Gingrich, both multiply divorced. (And of course, in Gingrich's case, there have been allegations that he was particularly cavalier about both the marriages and the divorces.)

The bottom line, I suppose is that voters are interested in candidates' personal lives to the extent that they display patterns of thinking and behaving that give clues about maturity, judgment, and trustworthiness.

As increasing numbers of Americans themselves experience divorce, there will be increasing acceptance of candidates who have been divorced. Beside Reagan, several recent major party nominees have been divorced and remarried; Bob Dole and John Kerry both fit in this category.

I think it's good that Americans appear to have eschewed the legalism that once prevented a divorced person from being seriously considered for the presidency.

But if a multiply divorced person's past gives indications of untrustworthiness, immaturity, or poor judgment, voters may decide against that person as presidential material.

RogerA said...

Jacques--you are one very sick puppy--get help before you hurt someone.

Melinda said...

If somebody says something outrageous, she pursues it and makes them defend it.

Hey, it sounds like my house! Maybe I should run for president.

P. Froward said...

" No way does he want to be perceived as a reclusive loner."

Yeah, who's in a better position to send letter bombs to Congress?

"He was always such a quiet senator..."

I think Jacques is attempting, in his dull and elephantine way, to be "funny". It's like watching the retarded kids put on a play. Applaud. He's doing his best. He deserves credit for trying.

AJ Lynch said...

I only read the snippets Ann shared with us. And in those snippets, did Senator Feingold actually say or reveal anything substantive?

dmc_in_washington said...

very astute appraisal, Mark.

Icepick said...

As I recall, Kerry's divorce and remarriage where only issues for two reasons: his second wife is an interesting character, and whenever Kerry's children were around it seemed that the press felt under obligation to continually remind us that the children resulted from the first marriage. I don't really recall Dole's divorce getting much attention at all. (Of course, Dole had no chance in Hell in 1996, so why bother either way?)

I think Mark Daniels is right about this: It will only make a difference (in Presendential election terms) if the divorce in question indicates some other charachter issue. It creates an additional hurdle a candidate may have to clear. Multiple divorces, a recent divorce, or a divorce with really bad publicly known circumstances will create a larger hurdle to clear. Kerry and Dole OTOH had very small hurdles to clear, because each had only been divorced once, NOT in the recent past, and had since remarried and stayed that way.

Thus I think Gingrich has no chance for a nomination because of his divorces, the recent nature of the second one, and the rumored manner in which they happened. (Oh, and the rumored affair behind at least one of the divorces.)

I don't know anything about the circumstances around Feingold's divorces. But given that his circumstances aren't as widely known (because if I haven't heard aobut it, almost no one has, lol) indicates a certain unnews-worthiness about them, so he probably only has a medium sized hurdle to clear.

Internet Ronin said...

I believe that whether or not Feingold's divorces prove to be an issue will largely depend on his two ex-wives and their current attitudes towards him. If the divorces were what is generally termed as "friendly" and they are on friendly speaking terms, they will probably be of no great interest to those willing to consider voting for him.

Mary said...

"He probably only has a medium sized hurdle to clear."

If voters otherwise like his stance on the issues, it would not be a factor. But the family values/conservative/back to the 50s crowd is powerful in many places, haven't you seen?

If you were disinclined to support him, the divorces will be an issue in current times. Might not be discussed openly more insinuated, but amiable or not, this last one is recent and people judge on your personal life. That's why GWB is still liked.

I doubt divorces are the thing that is going to keep Feingold from being a contender.

Craig Ranapia said...

Would it have been nice if Feingold had just got into the no spin zone on the whole "social" question, and said something like this -

1) When you ask if I'm "dating", you mean am I f**king anyone - and that's none of your damn business.

2) Washington is a company town, and like all companies the Hill is gossipy. If I'm seen talking to a woman (or an openly gay man, for that matter) for more than ten seconds, as surely as night follows day there will be a rumour out there we're going at it like rabbits in heat. I don't need that crap in my life.

And, just thinking aloud, I don't think divorce is the political issue it used to be - and I think most political watchers are well aware that the life is hard on marriages and families, always have been. The problem is when you have politicians preaching "family values" to everyone else, then turning around and claiming their infidelities, divorces etc. are different.

Jacob said...

I thought this was cute.

Okay. Real quick: Jennifer or Angelina?

Jennifer? Jennifer who?

Oh, come on, Senator! Jennifer or Angelina?

Jennifer who?

Aniston. [silence] Oh, God. You don’t read the tabloids, do you?

MadisonMan said...

And, of course, in spite of their problems, the Clintons have stuck with each other through thick, thin, and thin

Which takes enormous strength of character. Well, on Hillary's account, at least. That's one thing I admire about her -- her ability to forgive a wayward spouse.

Wickedpinto said...

My first girlfriend, my first real girlfriend (we kissed, with tongues, and we always held hands on the way to classes, and I always walked her to her class, even though her class was on the opposite side of the building from mine, and I always raced to her previous class, so we could walk to her next, that is what I mean by "real girlfriend") was, in truth, hot, in fact, even now she's hot, bleach white blonde (naturaly) and a great rack. The reason she was my girlfriend though?

Well, it had less to do with the fact that she was hot, (this was sixth grade) it was because she was the ONLY person, the ONLY PERSON! in my class, that was younger than me, and younger than me by only about 11 hours, We had the same birthday, and I was born 2 days before the "grade cutoff" of october 1 (which is actually september 30)

so along the lines of "short answers, with no real info" the fact is, that the only reason that myself and monique, were boyfriend and girlfriend at that time? is cuz we had the same birthday, and we were both the youngest male, and youngest female within our class.

So, yeah, anecdotal background, of little kids trying to act like adults, lying about how we ended up together is a BRILLIANT comparisson.

MadisonMan said...

Mr. Pinto -- I'm confused about what you're replying to. Please clarify.

Wickedpinto said...


I mean that even something as fundamental as a "first girlfriend" consists of a lot of lies to ones self, and to those who are in their life.

If I can be honest about my first girlfriend, these guys who serve us, can be almost as honest as I.

I tend to speak in randomly appropriate stories that are vaguely associative with a particular subject.

I fancy myself a decent story teller.

Cool Madisonman?

MadisonMan said...

I tend to speak in randomly appropriate stories that are vaguely associative with a particular subject.

I understand now.

Thanks for the clarification -- I thought I'd wandered through a wall between commentary threads.

John Salmon said...

Notice how it's impossible for anyone to describe Hillary in terms that make her sound even remotely human? How big a liablity is her personality? Unless it's a disastrously bad year for Republicans, I'm not sure she can win.

JazzBass said...

Hey, Madison Man, Hillary and Bill Clinton have an open marriage. This is well known in Arkansas. She uses him the way a smart businessman turns a liablity into an asset.
Feingold shouldn't get elected because of McCain-Feingold, period.
What a tool!