Sunday, November 29

More Than a Second Gentleman: Why Doug Emhoff is Kamala Harris’s Secret Weapon | Hadley Freeman | US News


TThere’s a lot to say here about the historic win for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, but I’d like to focus on a man named Doug. Doug Emhoff is a lawyer and, more relevant to his interests and mine, Harris’s husband and, unless you are part of the #DougHiveDevoted followers of Doug (and, one suspects, mostly women), you probably don’t know much about him.

This in itself is astonishing, given that it is generally spoken of women through the prism of his personal life. I didn’t realize until last month that the young adults Harris is occasionally photographed with are not, as I assumed, his sons, but Doug’s sons and stepsons. Having children, or not, once defined a woman’s public image, as Theresa May might tell you, but I don’t recall a single discussion of Harris’s parental status during this campaign. Before we all celebrate this with enthusiasm, Harris is still an anomaly; try to find a single article on Amy Coney Barrett that does not mention how many children she has, and then imply that this influences her fitness for the supreme court. That Harris has largely sidetracked this is largely down to her, but also to Doug. (I know newspaper style dictates that I should refer to him as Emhoff, but he is actually a Doug.)

I’m not obsessed with Doug; he’s not my subject Mastermind. But he could be my pub quiz subject. I know how he and Harris met (he told a mutual friend that he liked him) and how he dances (terribly, as several YouTube clips demonstrate). I love that they got together in the late 40’s and I love that when a protester crashed into a talk Harris was giving last year, Doug took him off the stage with strong and furious weapons. “Thanks for all the nice notes. We are good. I love @kamalaharris and would do anything for her. ” he tweeted the next day.

The media line about them is that he is the husband who adores him and she is the frighteningly impressive woman out front. (Hillary Clinton should have received the same respect, but unfortunately she came onto the national stage as a Doug – that is, as the appendage to the main event – and she never really escaped that yoke.) The general enthusiasm for Harris’s political triumph has been tempered by worries about his history of avoiding intervention in cases involving killings by police. But Doug is someone we can all enjoy unconditionally with, as he introduces the allure of the goofy, uxorious Jewish husband to the mainstream.

Doug has now quit your job to be America’s first second gentleman, and although Harris is rightly celebrated as the first African American and Indian American woman, vice president, there has been a lot Jewish emotion (from me) that there is now a Jew in the White House, just as anti-Semites have always feared. And so we will assume our long-planned world domination through the second knight, as predicted by the rabbis.

Of course, a big part of the fascination for a politician’s wife is the slightly retrograde idea that they reveal something about the politician. I’ve already forgotten everything about Mike Pence’s wife, including her name, other than that her husband didn’t just have lunch with a woman other than her and (worse, in my book) the rumor that he calls her “mother.” ”. The public’s analysis of Melania Trump for misery, and rumors that she had been replaced by a body double, reflected a collective yearning for proof of her husband’s wickedness. But I always found Melania’s own behavior quite horrible, from the propagation of the birth theory to “I really don’t care. Your? “jacket on a visit to migrant children, so as not to require any rune reading.

Without Hillary, Bill Clinton would have been simply a sexually incontinent hunting dog; That he got her, this brilliant, serious feminist, and that she stayed with him, shed an interesting multi-layered light on both of them. In his new book, Rodham, poet laureate of political spouses, Curtis Sittenfeld, plausibly imagines (semi-spoiler) Bill’s 1992 presidential bid failing because he was not married to Hillary. In my favorite book written this century, 2008’s American Wife, Sittenfeld fictionalizes the life of Laura Bush, observing how this bookish woman teamed up with a rude fratboy. Despite his friendship with Michelle Obama (the greatest political wife), I have remained resistant to the supposed charms of George W. Bush; But since reading American Wife, even I have come to appreciate his obvious love for Laura.

Doug is not the first male political spouse, and yet it is still exciting to see a man put his own ambitions on hold for his wife’s. (It is a pity that we will never see how Bill Clinton would have behaved like the first man.) But that a man in the back seat still Feels remarkable says less about spouses and more about us: how rigid the marriage patterns are and how difficult it is to break them.

In every possible way, Harris and Doug, like Biden and Dr. Jill Biden (who worked as a teacher when her husband was vice president and has indicated she plans to continue to do so), are the Trump and Mike’s palate-purifying opposites. and Mother Pence: They are the same and clearly have fun together. A political leader’s relationship with his partner reflects and also sets a national mood, from the Kennedys ‘broken illusion of perfection in 1960s America to the Blairs’ self-confidence in late 1990s Britain. With Harris’s marriage, we see a softening of gender roles and a couple getting married, not because of kids or social expectations, but because they really fall for each other. Bring on the era of Doug.



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