Who do you want sharing the White House with the president? Does it matter who becomes first lady, or must all the focus be on the man of the house?

It may seem to be a frivolous pursuit to let the question of who is best suited to be the president’s first ladies influence our votes, but the fact of the matter is that the kind of woman who serves as the lady of the White House has an impact far beyond merely being the president’s wife.

If you doubt that, remember the real impact Jackie Kennedy had on enhancing the image of the United States abroad. Whenever she accompanied president Kennedy on his foreign trips she was the apple of her host’s eyes, so much so that the president once identified himself as merely the man who accompanied Jackie Kennedy.

So what qualifications should a would-be first lady possess? In my mind the most important qualification is that the first lady be a lady. The second, and maybe the key quality, is that she be in every sense of the word her husband’s helpmate, always there supporting him, especially in times of stress. Her ability to be a gracious hostess is also important. She must be her own woman, have her own independent opinions, but at the same time not come across as, well, pushy or brash.

Which brings us to the question of who among the women now seeking to become America’s next first lady is best qualified? Ask yourself who do you want to be first lady for the next four years, Laura Bush, or Theresa Heinz Kerry? How do they stack up against each other? And while we’re at it, who do you think should be the vice president’s wife – a woman who will be one heart beat away from becoming first lady?

We know Laura Bush – after all she’s been our first lady for the last four years. She has proven to be a lady right down to her finger tips. She stands by her husband’s side, giving him her full support. She is gracious, intelligent, has her own opinions, but never contradicts her husband, and she is never pushy or brash.

What about Theresa Heinz Kerry, John Kerry’s second wife? How does she match up with Laura Bush?

Theresa Heinz Kerry is no shrinking violet – she is so outspoken that her husband’s campaign has done everything but put a gag on her. They should – they never know what outrageous comment she’s going to make next.

In the Sept. 27 issue of the New Yorker magazine, Judith Thurman chronicled some of Heinz Kerry’s better known verbal outrages before noting:

She dismissed voters skeptical of her husband’s health-care proposals as “idiots,” and, in a television interview with a Pittsburgh anchorwoman, employed the word “scumbags” to describe some of her detractors.

“There are these bizarre moments that make you shudder,” one Kerry adviser told Thurman. “Like calling herself African-American to black audiences.”

She also once suggested that President Bush was holding Osama bin Laden in some secret hideout, preparing to announce just before the election that he had captured the terrorist leader.

Her latest outburst is another case in point – that Laura Bush had probably never held a job. “But I don’t know that she’s ever had a real job – I mean, since she’s been grown up.” When informed that Laura Bush held jobs as a teacher, a librarian and a mother, Mrs. Kerry backed off.

She never backed off when she told a reporter to “shove it.” Fortunately she did not specify where he was to shove it, or what it was she wanted shoved. But anyone observing her could easily imagine her going that far.

Imagine having that loose cannon along with the president on a foreign trip. As the record shows, Jackie Kennedy she’s not!

As for Elizabeth Edwards, John Edwards’ wife, her comment about Lynne Cheney being ashamed of her daughter Mary because of her chosen lifestyle, is all you need to know. She’s not on the same planet as Mrs. Cheney.

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