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06.02.10

Don't Blame Bush for the Gore Split

News that Al and Tipper Gore are separating has drawn bipartisan concern and regret. Mark McKinnon on why Sally Quinn was wrong to inject politics into the mix.

It took a love story to break the wall-to-wall coverage of the oil spill.

And unfortunately, it is a sad one. Al and Tipper Gore, the supposed model political couple, are calling it quits shortly after celebrating their 40th anniversary.

I'm amazed, as quirky, individual and selfish as most of us are, that anyone stays married for long. I know I'm just extraordinarily lucky to have found the one woman in the world who would put up with 30 years of marriage to me.

The irony is that perhaps the most iconic, loving and enduring couple in American politics is now George W. and Laura Bush, following in the footsteps of George H. W. and Barbara Bush.

Politics only makes the difficult challenge of marriage even harder, with the demands of the job and the public spotlight it casts on a union.

And that is why we are all disappointed by the news of Al and Tipper. Despite the microwave of politics, they were the model couple. They showed us that love could survive the toughest of circumstances (a child nearly killed in a car accident, Tipper's battle with depression, and the small and large losses that come from a life in the public eye).

But then they also prove the immutable truth: We are all human. Relationships are complex and fragile. I'm constantly amazed by relationships that work and relationships that don't, because there doesn't seem to be any consistent formula for success.

The one thing we could be sure of, however, is that someone would find a way to blame Al and Tipper's breakup, as they do for almost all our problems today, on George W. Bush.

Leslie Bennets: Is the Gore Marriage Just Like Yours?

Lloyd Grove: Behind the Gores’ Shocking Split
Most observers surmise it is likely Tipper's aversion to public and political life, and Al's inability to extract himself from that world even after losing the presidency, that ultimately led to the breakup. But media maven and über Washington insider, Sally Quinn, concludes that at bottom it is really Bush's fault. In an interview with CBS News, Quinn proclaims that Gore winning the popular vote for president but losing the electoral vote did the marriage irreparable harm. "He's obviously suffered a lot," Quinn said. "He'll never get over that and neither will she."

If losing the presidency was the cause of "irreparable harm" to their marriage, then their union had much deeper problems. One would hope the reverse would have been true. That getting out of the public spotlight would have taken the Gore's out of the public spotlight and rewarded them with time together that they had sacrificed to public service over the years.

The irony is that perhaps the most iconic, loving and enduring couple in American politics is now George W. and Laura Bush, following in the footsteps of George H. W. and Barbara Bush.

But for all of us, it is a sad ending. Even those of us who didn't root for Al rooted for Al and Tipper.

As vice chairman of Public Strategies and president of Maverick Media, Mark McKinnon has helped meet strategic challenges for candidates, corporations and causes, including George W. Bush, John McCain, Governor Ann Richards, Charlie Wilson, Lance Armstrong, and Bono.