I know it should not bother me but it does. Fred Thompson is running for president. Fred is 65. His wife, the former Jeri Kehn is 41. Fred, at age 65 is looking, well, old, as in grandfatherly. Jeri looks like a fashion model. Perhaps when you are 24 years younger than your husband is this is to be expected. There is no question though. Jeri is a babe. Fred knows how to pick the lookers.
When it comes to May-December marriages, Fred is not the leader of presidential candidate pack. Think about one presidential candidate, Republican or Democratic, who you think is least likely not only to be married (secretly you think he is gay) but even if he were married, would have a much younger spouse? Raise your hand if Dennis Kucinich comes to mind. You are, by the way, spectacularly wrong. Dennis is on his third marriage. Dennis may be 61, but his far left leaning vegetarian lifestyle bought him quite a filly. She would be Elizabeth Jane Harper, born in 1977, whose resume includes working in Mother Teresa’s orphanages as well as the British House of Lords. She just turned 30.
I started this blog post thinking that if Republicans are the party of family values then their presidential candidates should not have as many divorces under their belt as the Democratic candidates. Conversely, Democrats, because they are left leaning liberals should have candidates rife with multiple divorces. Yet surveying the seven current Republican and seven current Democratic candidates, the presidential candidates for both parties are equally as likely to have been divorced. In this sense, both parties are fielding candidates who well represent the public on marriage, where approximately half of our marriages end up in divorce.
If you are interested, my statistics are summarized in a table in the extended entry. My survey should be taken with a grain of salt, since it involved about an hour of web surfing, much of it on Wikipedia whose veracity sometimes can be questioned. (If you find errors, please send them to me so I can correct them. Please note that Joe Biden’s first wife died in an automobile accident, so he has never been divorced even though he is on his second wife.) Many of the candidate’s spouses are good at hiding their ages from prying Internet eyes.
Rudy Giuliani and Dennis Kucinich might not appear to have much in common, but they top their party’s candidate lists in the number of divorces: two each. Which party prefers younger spouses? At least with the current crop of candidates, Republicans seem to like their wives younger. I was unable to find information on the ages of the wives of Duncan Hunter, Ron Paul and Tom Tancredo, but it appears their wives are close to their own ages. On the Democratic side, Joe Biden, Mike Gravel, Chris Dodd and Bill Richardson seem to have wives not anxious to reveal their ages. Based on the incomplete information I do have, Republican wives tend to be 11 years younger than their spouses are. On the Democratic side, the difference in ages between candidates and their spouses is 7.75 years. Among Republicans, John McCain is 18 years older than his spouse Cindy is, and Rudy Giuliani is 11 years older than his third wife Judi is.
Dennis Kucinich skews the statistics on the Democratic side. If I could ignore his candidacy (and most of us do), the Democratic candidates would show no average difference in ages at all with their wives. John Edwards’s wife Elizabeth is actually four years older than he is. Barack Obama’s wife Michelle is three years younger.
Most of us assume that John McCain is the oldest of all the candidates running. In fact, he is the third oldest. Mike Gravel is the oldest at 77. (He is also, I was surprised to learn, a fellow Unitarian Universalist. No wonder he has no chance of winning.) The favorite candidate of the Libertarians, Ron Paul, running as a Republican, comes in second at 72. John McCain is 71. Barack Obama is the youngest candidate at 46. The average age of Republican candidates is 63. The average age for Democratic candidates is 60.
Given the small sample set, there is not too much I can say with authority about presidential candidates. The evidence does suggest that Republicans running for president prefer much younger spouses and Democrats prefer spouses around their own age. So perhaps the Democrats can accurately state that their candidates are more representative of traditional family values. Who’d have thunk?