The Staff Always Hates the Spouse

You know how Newt’s staff complained about his wife? This gives me an excellent chance to dig up one of my favorite Iron Laws of Politics: campaign staffers always hate the candidate’s spouse. Let’s see…last time I talked about this was in the context of leaks portraying Elizabeth Edwards, Bill Clinton, and Cindy McCain badly. Here’s how I put it, so you don’t have to click through:

I do have one sort of context-setting thing to add, which is that in all campaigns I’ve every been involved in and all campaigns I’ve ever heard about, the staff hate the spouse. I’ve heard of campaigns in which the staff liked and respected the candidate and some in which the staff hated and had contempt for the candidate, but as far as I know the staff just about always thinks of every candidate’s spouse as a meddling, overbearing, pain-in-the-ass.

That’s not to say that the various things attributed to Bill, Cindy, Elizabeth, and the rest in the new book are necessarily wrong…I’d just caution people to understand the context. If you try to dig for dirt about the candidates’ spouses from staff, odds are you’ll find it.

So if you continue seeing people, on the record or anonymously, blaming Callista for the disaster that is (or was) Newt ’12, keep that in mind.

[Cross-posted at A plain blog about politics]

Jonathan Bernstein

Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist who writes about American politics, especially the presidency, Congress, parties, and elections.