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When Strength in a Wife Isn't PC : The very people defending Hillary Clinton's involvement attack Arianna Huffington.

October 13, 1994|DAVID HOROWITZ | David Horowitz is president of the Los Angeles-based Center for the Study of Popular Culture.

For supporters of Michael Huffington, the vicious attacks on his wife, Arianna--in particular, the accusation that she wears the intellectual pants in the Huffington family and that this is somehow a negative for his campaign--have had one salutary effect: They have exposed the hypocrisy of liberals like Dianne Feinstein and state Democratic Party Chairman Bill Press, who normally claim to have an interest in women's rights.

Arianna Stassinopoulos' intellectual achievement--beyond any possibility of dispute--exceeds that of any other wife in American politics, not only in this election year, but for the past 50. If she had not had the bad manners to be politically incorrect--if she were the wife of a Democrat--the liberal chorus, including Feinstein and Press, would be loudly condemning her attackers as sexists fearful of any sign of strength in a woman.

The first woman president of the Cambridge Union--an elite English debating society--Arianna Stassinopoulos published her first book on feminism when she was 23, and went on to write acclaimed biographies of Pablo Picasso and Maria Callas, as well as a philosophical work titled "After Reason." She was an internationally celebrated writer before she met Huffington.

Would Press and the others prefer that senatorial candidates choose wives who are intellectual inferiors to preserve the appearance of male dominance in all areas of public achievement? Or, if they do have the bad judgment to marry women with strong intellectual profiles, would he propose that they keep their wives in the closet for the duration of their campaigns? I know he does not have such thoughts about Hillary Rodham Clinton. Perhaps that's because she shares his political opinions.

Of course, Press and the other attackers are careful to cloak their liberal biases and petty male resentments in high-minded concern about religious gurus and New Age spiritualism. It is hinted that Mrs. Huffington is the captive of a New Age spiritual cult, despite the fact that she is a practicing Greek Orthodox. There is nothing new in finding the ugly face of religious bigotry alive and well in electoral campaigns. But the disdain for a woman who is able to think and actually express herself in print is evidenced in the failure of the anti-Arianna chorus to read what she has written.

Here is a passage from her current book, "The Fourth Instinct," which bears directly on the question of religion and politics:

The Founding Fathers grounded America in spiritual absolutes. The Declaration of Independence hinges upon the premise that "all men are created equal," which Lincoln called "the father of all moral principle." It is a truth self-evident only in terms of our spiritual heritage. Men are not self-evidently equal in talent or intelligence or physical appearance or by any other first-, second- or third-instinct criteria. They are equal by a standard perceived only by the fourth, our instinctive grasp of the absolute. This does not mean that America was founded as a "religious nation." The Founding Fathers were not political men engaged in a spiritual enterprise. They were deeply spiritual men engaged in a political enterprise.

Here we see her religious concerns as they relate to politics: the importance of grounding a political system in an absolute morality, which in the case of America is those self-evident truths enumerated in the Declaration of Independence and secured by the Constitution; her view that these absolute--and therefore inalienable--truths derive from what she calls the fourth, or spiritual, instinct; her understanding that this does not mean that our political system should be subordinated to a religious system, but that if our political system ignores its moral and spiritual bases, it does so at its own peril.

Now I ask: Would you not wish the writer of the above passage to be more, rather than less involved in her husband's campaign for political office?

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