« Paris Hilton, Communicable Diseases, and Prison Conditions | Main | So You Think You Can Engage In Nepotism »

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Politics As Usual: He's A "Stud" While She "Works The Pole."

This is a photograph of possible '08 Presidential candidate Fred Thompson with his spouse, Jeri Kehn:

AaaaSee also. The New York Post has referred to Kehn as Thompson's "Babe Wife." This article also observed:

"Kehn scored a coup in convincing Thompson, who had won the nickname "The Tennessee Stud" during his D.C. bachelorhood, to meet her at the altar."

A Boston Herald columnist, Margery Eagan, had this reaction to the photo:

Flashed around the country Thursday was yet another full cleavage shot of Fred Thompson’s child wife looking almost as well-endowed as Alex Rodriguez’s stripper/pole-dancer girlfriend. “That was quite a dress,” said one GOP analyst, breathless.

Perhaps Fred’s wife “Jeri” - yes, with an “i” - helps Fred with AARP, Viagra-ed up men: “You still got it goin’, Fred, you dirty dog.”

MSNBC's Imus replacement commentator, former Republican Congressional Representative Joe Scarborough, recently had this on air exchange about Kehn:

SCARBOROUGH: Have you seen Fred Thompson’s wife?
CRAWFORD: Oh, yeah.
SCARBOROUGH: You think she thinks she works the pole?
CRAWFORD: That’s what a Hollywood career will do for you, I guess.
SCARBOROUGH: What do you mean?
CRAWFORD: You get wives like that.
SCARBOROUGH: I mean, look at that guy. God bless him, I love his voice. But I mean, you know. He ain’t Robert Redford in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”
CRAWFORD: Well I would like to see him back into politics because I think he’s a lousy actor.

You can watch the video here. According to this USA Today article:

Video of MSNBC's Joe Scarborough bantering on the cable news network Friday about whether Fred Thompson's wife "works the pole" is sparking criticism of Scarborough from the right, left and in between. A spokesman for the news network said this afternoon, though, that the comment has been taken out of context and that it is "irresponsible" to suggest Scarborough was employing sexual innuendo. "Works the pole" could have been a reference to poles that some strippers use in their acts. MSNBC says it was a reference to an exercise routine that a growing number of women are performing.

As both an actor and politician, I have to assume Thompson understands the importance of his public image, and that of his wife.  Kehn is described in the NY Post article linked above as "a former Senate staffer and Republican National Committee mouthpiece" and "a sassy political pro who could help his cause in the White House." It is difficult to divine what, if anything, her style of dress says about Thompson's perceptions of the current electoral zeitgeist. Is Kehn willing to be publicly portrayed as a "pole worker" to burnish Thompson's reputation as a "stud," or did the media coverage turn out differently than they expected? If Thompson didn't anticipate this kind of reaction, his political instincts probably aren't all that good.

Posted by Ann Bartow on June 7, 2007 at 11:15 PM in Gender | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Politics As Usual: He's A "Stud" While She "Works The Pole.":


Are we sure Scarborough didn't ask whether Kehn "works the poll[s]"?

I don't watch his show. But I appreciate puns.

As for Thompson using his spouse, I think that comes with the territory for political spouses. I suspect that there are rewards for the spouse as well in the bargain.

Posted by: bill | Jun 11, 2007 10:50:11 AM


Scarborough was obviously making a stripper reference, but it wasn't out of the blue.

Posted by: Bart Motes | Jun 10, 2007 1:19:04 PM

It's hard to decide whether this post 1) plays into the stereotype of feminists who viscerally resent attractive women, or 2) represents the fact that some feminists put will abandon any pretense of concern for how women are treated in public discourse, when there's a partisan point to be made.

Posted by: John Doe | Jun 8, 2007 9:09:13 PM

Yes, it's interesting that a purported feminist can quote all of that derogatory language -- and then, instead of defending Kehn, treats the derogatory language as simply to be expected, and uses it as an launchpad to attack Thompson's political instincts.

Posted by: John Doe | Jun 8, 2007 2:49:57 PM

Professor Bartow appears to be arguing that Fred Thompson is "using" hiw wife, rather than simply accepting that Fred Thompson is an actor who has a hot wife, a woman who obviously likes attention, given that she married a famous actor.

Posted by: Professor Bartow fails to make sense yet again | Jun 8, 2007 1:42:17 PM

The fact is he is old enough to be her father. And he looks old enough to be her father. It is not the dress. There are a lot of Presidential functions where the first lady can wear a dress that shows off her assets. He just looks like a dirty old man next to her, much as the way Bill Clinton looked with Monica. This is going to hurt him with some women voters, particularly older women who can identify with the first wife. Obama has a young, hot looking wife. This will not hurt Obama because he is not that much older than her, and she is a first wife. If she wears a low cut dress, no one will be offended.

Posted by: Frank | Jun 8, 2007 1:37:57 PM

I would suspect that any attempt to sexualize the potential first ladies is a calculated attempt to bring the appearance of youth and excitement to what is otherwise a totally drab collection of old guys. Maybe they're trying to channel Jackie O, but the fact that it's being talked about in that way is provocative. I like trout's interesting, if perhaps unintended, comparison of right libertarians and christian conservatives. Two groups who probably have every reason to despise one another, but are ironically linked and likely to vote together on a number of key issues (expression, education, federalism in general, possibly the war). What I find interesting is that scarborough is also a near libertarian. If he, and I don't remotely know if this is the case, is backing McCain, then he and others may be going after thompson early by trying to weaken his support among those christian conservatives who McCain is having a tough enough time converting and Rudy has totally alienated. If that's the case, then any attack on mrs thompson is really an attack on her husband. It may be unsavory, and it may be politics as usual, but it's much more interesting and believable than the notion that high stakes political operatives are giving in to high school humor in the national media just for the fun or meanness of it.

Posted by: Colin | Jun 8, 2007 12:27:41 PM

I'm a bit confused by this post. Prof. Bartow makes no bones that she considers herself a feminist, and this is certainly about the female body in the public discourse. So how does it end with bashing a Republican presidential contender while eliding the real issue addressed in the title?
Fred Thompson has been running what could be called an unorthodox campaign, realizing that conservatives and libertarians, especially those online, are borderline despondant over where the party has gone. Either they're religious conservatives who realize they've been ignored save on peripheral issues, or they're hawkish libertarians whose concerns should be fairly obvious. I'd also note that this audience is primarily (but by no means exclusively) male, and aggressively non-PC. This is why he's been doing stuff like putting a video on Redstate of him smoking a cigar and saying Michael Moore should be put in a mental institution, and not hiding the fact that his wife is much younger and quite attractive. I'd be curious to hear the feminist angle on that, rather than this bizarre tangent, or alternately a real discussion of how the media has sexually objectified his wife, and why "works the pole" hasn't been greeted with the same opprobrium as "nappy-headed hos."

Posted by: Ubertrout | Jun 8, 2007 11:02:14 AM

I disagree - a lot. First, how does it really hurt Thompson? Doesn't obnoxiousness like the "Joe pole" comments backfire? I am sure they knew people might be crude, but doesn't that say more about those yahoos? What makes you think they control the NY Post or MSNBC?

And are you criticizing her because she's hot? Or Fred for marrying her because she's hot? Or running for political office while married to someone who's hot?

Posted by: Muffley | Jun 8, 2007 4:32:19 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.