With the exception of Eleanor Roosevelt, no wife of a president or presidential candidate has been the target of the kind of political attacks the Republican Party is now aiming at Hillary Clinton. But then, no candidate's wife has compiled the high-visibility resume that distinguishes Ms. Clinton's career as a corporate lawyer and a national advocate for children and their ,, welfare.
In Houston last week, the GOP devoted an unprecedented amount of prime time exposure to the wives of their candidates. Barbara Bush, whose soaring popularity stands in sharp contrast to her husband's low standing in opinion polls, is the quintessential American grandmother who clearly revels in her role as homemaker. Marilyn Quayle is a more contemporary version of the same vision, a lawyer who set aside her own professional aspirations in order to devote more time to her three children and her husband's political career.
Both these women could serve as models for many Americans. What is troubling -- and puzzling -- is their use by the Bush campaign as foils for attacks on Mrs. Clinton as somehow un-American for making a different choice. While Mrs. Clinton has been attacked as a woman who would engineer a co-presidency, Mrs. Quayle was loudly cheered as she referred to herself and her husband as a kind of vice-presidential team.