Sen. Bob Kerrey is being considered as a potential running mate for Gov. Bill Clinton. But he probably won't be selected. And the reason, if true, seems unfair.
It has been reported that Clinton would like the Democratic convention to end with himself and wife Hillary standing on the stage next to running mate and running mate's wife.
This makes for good family television, with the two happy couples waving, the lights flashing, the music blaring, and the delegates joyously cheering -- or at least trying to look interested.
The problem is, Bob Kerrey doesn't have a wife. He used to have one, but they decided not to be married anymore.
So that means he would be standing there alone. And insiders are reportedly saying that this is not the image that Clinton or his image experts want to leave with the TV audience.
They know that some people, the kind who say "hmmmph," would notice it and would surely say things like:
"Hmmmph. Where's this fellow Kerrey's wife?"
"He doesn't have a wife. Divorced, I hear. Hmmmph."
"Hmmmph. What kind of family values are those?"
"What kind of middle-class morality? Hmmmph."
And that sort of talk isn't what Democrats want, with old-time family values being so politically fashionable and Dan "Potatoe Man" Quayle out there playing the role of a modern-day Andy Hardy.
Yet, it doesn't seem right for Kerrey to be judged that way. It should count for something that he and his ex-wife say they are still friends. (Of course, that might only mean that she got the house and he didn't miss any support payments.)
While it is true that he no longer has a wife, it is also
true that he no longer has one of his legs. Divorce court is full of mopes, but war heroes have become scarce.
And as a politically practical matter, Clinton and his people should remember that there are millions of divorced or widowed men out there who can identify with Kerrey and might be offended if he is shunted aside for his oneness, his aloneness, his singleness.
If they saw him standing up there by himself, they wouldn't go "hmmmph." It's more likely they'd say things like:
"I wonder how much his ex nicked him for?"
"It couldn't have been too bad. He doesn't live at a YMCA."
"No, and he's not looking around like he's hiding from a process server, either."
"Hah, if she's watching, I'll bet she wishes she had it to do over again."
"Look at him smile. Being happy is the best revenge. He's got my vote."
And his oneness would have a certain appeal to women. There are some who would be intrigued at seeing him alone and would have romantic thoughts, such as: "I wonder how much money he has left."
There also are those females who would see him as someone in desperate need of being fixed up. Men who are alone are forever at the mercy of such women. They would see him standing there by himself, looking happy and self-reliant, and they would have the overwhelming urge to undo his condition. They would say:
"I wish I knew him so we could have him to dinner and invite my friend Judy. They would be a perfect couple, don't you think? I wonder if he likes to dance."
"I hear he lost one leg in the war."
"Well, they could dance the slow stuff."
"If you ask me, Ellen would be more his type."
"No, she's a Republican."
"Well, she wouldn't have to tell him until later."
Actually, if Clinton added up all the single, divorced and widowed men in America, added those females who have their eyes peeled for such men, and tossed in those who insist on playing matchmakers, they would greatly exceed those who are inclined to say "hmmmph."
Besides, President Bush and Quayle already have the "hmmmph" vote all locked up.
But if Clinton really believes that it would be better to have a woman standing next to Kerrey, looking proud and happy, I have a solution. What the heck, my wife will be happy to get up there and stand next to him. She'd think it was a real kick.
When she has to, she can look as proud and happy as anyone I know. She doesn't dress too flashy, and she can smile and wave every bit as good as Hillary or Barbara. And, if I may brag, a lot better than Potatoe Dan's wife. (Potatoe Dan's wife always strikes me as looking like she's a little tense and worried that Potatoe Dan will spill something or fall off the stage.)
Besides, my wife is a lifelong Democrat and even ran to be a delegate to the convention.
So if they need her to stand up there and wave, she's available. I asked her and she said:
"Why not? Their chances of being elected aren't any worse than yours."