When ex-wives attack

The New Jersey governor's race hits new lows with an attack ad featuring a candidate's angry ex-wife.

Published November 5, 2005 1:25AM (EST)

Political attack ads took a page from Jerry Springer in New Jersey this week, where Republicans kicked off an ad campaign suggesting voters shouldn't cast their ballots for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jon Corzine because his ex-wife says not to.

We know that politicians in general, and the Republican Party in particular, have made considerable hay attacking the character of their opponents. But the attack ad in question brings the practice to new lows, bypassing any actual political insight and heading straight for conflating one person's subjective opinion of Corzine's family values with his ability to lead. The ad quotes a New York Times interview with Joanne Corzine (who split with Jon in 2003 and who has previously said that her husband's decision to enter politics ruined their marriage) in which she said, "All I could think was that Jon did let his family down, and he'll probably let New Jersey down, too."

Like, Corzine wouldn't pick up New Jersey's kids after school? He wouldn't teach the state to ride a bike, or be available to go on romantic vacations with the electorate? Republican candidate Doug Forrester defended the ad by saying, "It has everything to do with governing. It has nothing to do with private life," but his reasoning is way off base. If Joanne Corzine was angry that her ex-husband put politics before family, that's bad for his family, but it doesn't seem to indicate that he'd let his constituents down.

All in all, this just brings us back to the fact that the particulars of a politician's personal life don't necessarily indicate his or her fitness for office. And it makes us want to give one more shout-out to the Clintons, who weathered worse and still manage to be classy in their public support for each other.

By Page Rockwell

Page Rockwell is Salon's editorial project manager.

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