‘If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy’

BROOKINGS – The above headline should be recognized and appreciated by every married man reading this column. It’s a truism that I hadn’t given much thought to recently until stumbling around the Internet looking for something I could cobble together for a column.

I found a political action committee I had never heard of: The Lincoln Project. Founded in December 2019 by what its website calls “several prominent Republicans and former Republicans,” its mission is to: ”Prevent the reelection of Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.”

At this point let me insert, as I frequently do in my columns, an alhaigian caveat: I’m not out to pass judgment pro or con on this PAC, but only to support my if-mama-ain’t-happy and strange-bedfellows theses. Indulge me if I resort to a bit of weasel-wording.

What got my attention about The Lincoln Project was that one of its seven founders is conservative Republican George Conway, spouse of Kellyanne Conway, the gatling-gun talker who is counselor to President Trump and a key player in his winning the 2016 election. The Donald has been less than flattering in his references to “Mr. Kellyanne Conway”: “wack job,” “stone cold LOSER & husband from hell!”

Matching the “counterpuncher” tweet for tweet (is this the 21st Century version of “mano a mano”?), referenced in a March 20, 2019, report in The Washington Post, George Conway suggested the president’s “mental health is deteriorating”; and in tweets, he “included images from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, including pages with diagnostic criteria for ‘narcissistic personality disorder’ and ‘antisocial personality disorder.’”

“ … Conway said his tweets questioning the president’s mental health were aimed at avoiding conflicts with his wife.” Hmm.

In concluding, the report noted: “’It’s so maddening to watch,’ Conway said. ‘The mendacity, the incompetence, it’s just maddening to watch. The tweeting is just the way to get it out of the way, so I can get it off my chest and move on with my life that day. That’s basically it. Frankly, it’s so I don’t end up screaming at her (Kellyanne) about it.’”       

Wow! Sounds like trouble in paradise. But like many American power-couples, the Conways have the space to more than socially distance themselves from each other when the sparks fly. They have a 15,000 square-foot D.C. hideaway priced at about $8 million. It has 8 bedrooms and 11 1/2 bathrooms.

Real estate deals for such properties within the Beltway are not publicly trotted out; but like other information within or without government circles, word “leaks” out. Reportedly, it was Kellyanne who purchased the property. I suspect price was not a problem. Several online sources say her net worth is about $39 million.

But all this being said, is she happy? I don’t know. I suspect she’s not especially happy with her spouse – or he with her. A February 2020 story in Vanity Fair has friends confirming that the couple truly “hate each others guts!”

Wow again. Wonder how they’ll feel about each other post-election. If Trump doesn’t get reelected, mama Kellyanne ain’t gonna be happy. But if that happens, would George be unhappy?

Another political couple I found interesting was political consultant James (the “Ragin’ Cajun”) Carville and his wife Mary Matilin. He’s a Democratic consultant who helped Bill Clinton get elected in 1992; keeping it in the family, he helped Hillary Clinton advance her presidential aspirations in 2008.

Matilin is a Republican political consultant who served in the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and both Bushes. Carville and Matilin married in 1993 and remain married. Happily, too, it seems; they have been known to appear on the same venue and amicably present opposing views on the same issue. But with Trump in office, amicability for some American couples has been unattainable.

The Trumpster had been in office for less than six months, when in May 2017, Wakefield Research, an Arlington, Virginia-based polling firm, self-billed as “an independent, nonpartisan research organization,” reported surveying 1,000 participants and finding “that 22% of Americans know a couple whose marriage or relationship ‘has been negatively impacted specifically due to President Trump’s election.’ In fact, Wakefield said that 24% of Americans in a relationship or marriage report that since Trump was elected ‘they or their partner have disagreed or argued about politics more than ever.’”     

Reading about these proTrump/noTrump couples puts me in mind of the Clovers 1956 hit record, “Devil or Angel”: “Devil or angel, I can’t make up my mind, which one you are, I’d like to wake up and find … .”

With tribalism brought down to the family level in instances such as those noted above, it might be hard to find the better angels of our nature – and there will be some mamas and papas who ain’t gonna be happy with the outcome of the upcoming election.

Have a nice day. Stay safe.