Trophy Case

Ah, the spouse story. Journalists can't get enough. What will Bill mean for Hillary? Will Rudy's wives be a liability? How much height does Kucinich's wife have on him? And now: "Is America ready for a president with a trophy wife?"

Seriously. That's a quote.

It comes from the New York Times, which put its story on the potential ramifications of Fred Thompson's wife – and, specifically, the fact that she might be considered a "trophy" – in the "Fashion & Style" section.

We already know about Thompson's "colorful dating history." Thompson tried to frame the coverage of said history by admitting, with a chuckle, that he "chased a lot of women…And a lot of women chased me. And those that chased me tended to catch me."

Jeri Kehn Thompson, who has an impressive resume of her own, is the one who reeled him in – and with her relative youth, tan, and bleach blond hair, she hasn't exactly been evoking memories of Eleanor Roosevelt. (Don't take our word for it. Ask Joe Scarborough.)

The Times talked to various experts about what effect Jeri Kehn's status will have on a potential Fred candidacy, and the verdict is in: She will apparently either be an asset, a liability, both, or neither.

Let PE throw in our two cents: The press will probably stay (mostly) away from the "trophy wife" angle, since it can be hard to discuss without inviting accusations of sexism -- but they'll sneak in a wink-and-a-nudge whenever possible. Thompson may not even protest much, since he has embraced a certain smirking, one-of-the-boys-at-the-country-club quality – as evidenced by the quote about his single days above and such stunts as his video response to Michael Moore, complete with cigar.

But that image is exactly the kind of thing other politicians have tried to run from. George W. Bush, for example, successfully countered attempts to caricature him as a smirking frat boy by playing up his religiosity and talking about how he'd matured after his youthful indiscretions. The fact that he married a librarian, of all things, surely helped his cause. There may be plenty of advantages of having a young and attractive wife, but the fact is that Jeri Kehn makes it harder for Fred to play the same card that Bush has – and, as unfair as it may be, that may well end up making her a liability.

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