Are families off limits?
Trump’s attack of Cruz’s wife raises questions of whether relatives are fair game
In the presidential campaign thus far, voters have seen it all. Candidates ranged from billionaires and neurosurgeons to a former first lady and a self-proclaimed socialist. One thing voters have not seen a lot of, however, is decency.
Recently, Donald Trump threatened to “spill the beans” on Ted Cruz’s wife, Heidi, in retaliation to the meme that showed a nude Melania Trump, apparently targeted to Mormons and evangelicals.
“Meet Melania Trump, your next First Lady,” the ad read, with an image certainly worthy of a conservative cringe. “Or, you could support Ted Cruz on Tuesday.”
The ad was produced by an anti-Trump super PAC, Make America Awesome, which has no known connection to the Cruz campaign.
Though the ad was not produced directly by Ted Cruz, Donald Trump still took it upon himself to settle the offense via Twitter.
“Lyin’ Ted Cruz just used a picture of Melania from a G.Q. shoot in his ad. Be careful, Lyin’ Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife!,” Donald Trump tweeted just minutes before polls closed in Arizona.
Donald Trump later retweeted a paparazzi shot of Heidi Cruz alongside a glamorous photo of Melania Trump with a caption reading: “no need to ‘spill the beans;’ the images are worth a thousand words.”
Ted Cruz responded by retweeting Donald Trump and writing, “Donald, real men don’t attack women. Your wife is lovely, and Heidi is the love of my life.”
Since the dispute, both wives have taken a more forward and noble stance in campaigning with their husbands.
An ever-ridiculous campaign conversation again turned away from the important issues (national security, immigration, the economy, and health care, to name a few) and instead prompted hours of media focus on the ads, the wives and the candidates’ responses. The drama.
It is unfortunate but true that American presidential campaigns have a rich history of low blows. Just because candidates’ families should be off limits in political campaigns, does not mean that they are ever actually left alone.
In fact there is a long history of political attacks against candidates’ family members. From negative campaigning against Andrew Jackson’s wife to attacks against Bill Clinton’s half-brother, politicians’ family members have constantly been under scrutiny.
“Families have to be off limits,” Ohio Governor and Republican presidential candidate John Kasich said in an interview with NBC News. “There’s got to be some rules, and there’s got to be something that gets set there.
What message does this send to Americans, particularly young women? These young voters are left to observe the politics and poise of Melania Trump and Heidi Cruz as they stand by their husbands and show a brave and lovable face to the watching world.
The fact is that neither of these women are running for president, and families of politicians should not be subject to the unfair criticism they have received.
However, the American public does want to feel as though they truly know their candidate, which again is perhaps why Donald Trump is doing so well in the polls.
To many voters, truly knowing the candidate involves knowing the candidate’s spouse and family. As both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz place their wives — women that could not be more different — in the spotlight, it becomes more evident just how much American conservatism has changed.
“An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.” (Proverbs 12:4; ESV)
This saying is true, and though each wife certainly reflects her husband in some way or another, their beauty and success should not be capitalized on or preyed upon by the supporting or opposing media.
Republican candidates in particular need to realize that if they want to earn the respect of this nation, they might just have to try showing it to each other.
Rozenblum is an opinion writer.