Don’t you just love it when someone running for president’s relative – say, their spouse or parent – becomes a kind of designated ventriloquist’s dummy, er, nanny fighting battles, uh, political mouthpiece, for the candidate. Who asked them, anyway? By now, you must have heard their embarrassingly partisan tirades, or should I say diatribes. Kinda sickening. Naturally, the candidate’s hiding behind the other person’s quotes, usually something they wanted to say themselves, but it wouldn’t be … politic.

How lame is that?

Of course my rabbit, I mean, rabid, feminist friends, all one-point-five of them, may come down on me hard for diming this out, probably accusing me of taking an anti-woman stance, but my statement applies to all such fomenting and fulminating relatives – husbands as well as wives, fathers as well as mothers.

Talk about embedded!

Ever get tired of John Edwards’ wife lashing out for him, spouting everything from the unpleasant to the unspeakable? Pardon me for saying this – OK, I know you won’t, but here it is anyway – not to be disrespectful, but does she think her incurable illness gives her carte blanche to unload at will?

Or Bill, explaining Hillary’s cleavage, I mean, femininity. Ha! He should talk!

And recently, McCain’s Mom, for cripes sakes, going after, you should pardon the expression, Romney. Heck, McCain has a mom? Did he raise her from the dead, or what? I always thought he was a byproduct of Spontaneous Generation, primordial ooze from a petri dish.

At this juncture, to adjust the “fair and balanced” quotient, allow me to insert a brief but adulatory quote from my fond friend, “Freddy from Fresno,” not his real name. “Just think – McCain’s mother is 95! It doesn’t even matter what she says. It’s great she has something to contribute about the election campaign!” he enthuses, adding, “Besides, politicians always have other people saying stuff for them.”

Yes, sometimes even as those oh-so-transparent “trial balloons,” whereby a functionary might make an “accidental” comment or “mistakenly” leak a “private” opinion – to gauge public reaction.

Actually, the only presidential wannabe’s relatives I wouldn’t mind hearing from are Rudy’s kids – yeah, the ones who supposedly don’t speak to him. Oh, to be a fly on those walls!

Surely someone will smear me for not properly venerating the institution of motherhood, or even family. Let me say this about that – I worship the notion of family; it’s the reality that seems so difficult.

So be it. As my sometime friend “Rachel,” not her real name, sneered in my general direction the other day: “What do you know about it? You’re not a mother.”

That’s right. Some of us have cats, don’t we? And you wonder why, on a good day, I want to enter the Witless Protection Program in some leftover hippie village somewhere under an assumed identity and begin my life, such as it is, anew.

Speaking of moms if we must, one decent and dignified thing Barbara Bush did as a president’s wife was write a book about the family dog, rather than going around shooting poison darts at her husband’s political enemies for him. That is, until Baby Bush43 became our putative PresiDunk, and then even she began to mouth off now and then. Meanwhile, the thanks of a grateful nation to Laura Bush, for, ahem, knowing her place.

Smile, smile, smile.

Naturally, I am horrified by these ill-conceived verbal barrages. Such gabby folks remind me of those chattering windup plastic toy jaws, clacking and clattering loudly on the floor until their mojo-spring runs down and you are so pleased they finally SHUT UP.

As my once-and-future therapist, “Maggie the Brit,” not her real name, was wont to remind me, “Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.”

In the so-called “old days,” the spouse of a leader, or aspiring leader, might choose a harmless cause to get behind, or even a wholesome topic to expound upon. That could be downright useful. I hear tell Ladybird Johnson actually picked billboards and stumped for America’s beautification. And Joan Mondale had “the arts.” Not much you could find wrong with those choices.

Think of poor Pat Nixon wringing her hands when she was overwrought while Tricky Dick conspired to defraud our nation of its integrity. Her gesture spoke volumes. Or Betty Ford entering rehab and making a constructive effort to work out her own problems. Whatever happened to subtext, anyway, let alone discretion?

Nevertheless, let’s give thanks for the candidates’ mouthy relatives, one and all. And then, muzzle them!

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