I’m really looking forward to viewing this evening’s match in Arizona. CNN’s John King will again be moderating and questioning the remaining Republican candidates, just as he did last month in South Carolina before that state’s primary.
As we all recall, King opened the discussion on the South Carolina panel by provocatively asking Newt Gingrich about a sensitive period in his second marriage. The inquiry was timely because the same day, in a televised interview on ABC, Marianne (my personal favorite of the former speaker’s three wives) told Brian Ross and The Post’s James V. Grimaldi about the time when her soon-to-be former husband thought what might save their marriage would be if he could continue to have sex with his then-mistress, Callista.
The CNN anchor was severely dressed down for the question (“I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate with a topic like that”) and Newt went on to win palmetto state delegates in the election that followed. So dramatic was Gingrich’s response to King that for a few days after he was a party frontrunner. Today, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, a man who believes in strong family values, is the man to beat.
With so many social issues surrounding these candidates, I’ve been reminded recently about the political firestorm Vice President Dan Quayle set during the 1992 presidential election. The CBS comedy title character, “Murphy Brown,” played by Candace Bergen, was an independent and successful investigative TV magazine anchor who, in the show’s fourth season, added single parenthood to her high powered resume. Quayle, running for reelection, called out Murphy for her unseemly “lifestyle choice.” The candidate criticized Brown for adding to the societally damaging acceptance of unwed motherhood and for “mocking the importance of a father, by bearing a child alone.” (I’m not sure what Murphy would say about the latest statistic that more than half of babies born to young women under 30 today have unmarried mothers.)
According to ABC’s promo for tonight’s episode of hit show “Modern Family” (unfortunately, airing in my time zone during the second half of the debate) the slightly clueless dad character, Phil Dunphy, might learn his older daughter Haley, a high school senior, is not a virgin. Since, as the show title suggests, the characters are exceedingly modern, family members (including a pair of gay uncles with an adopted Asian daughter, and a grandfather married to a second wife several decades his junior) will presumably be discussing the benefits of birth control.
At tonight’s debate, I’ll be watching closely for another television inspired opportunity to invite relevant comment. Given all the attention being paid to contraception lately, In the interest of symmetry, I’d really like John King to ask the hopefuls about sitcom reproductive “lifestyle choices.”