There were more examples this week of liberal Gore-friendly media outlets trying to smooth over Al and Tipper Gore's separation. In their "Conventional Wisdom" box Newsweek gave the Gores a sideways arrow: "Famous public smoochers calling it quits after 40 years. Still, they stayed classy."
Time ran a big picture of the 2000 smooch, and underneath Belinda Luscombe wrote "In a leaked e-mail to friends, Al and wife Tipper -- whose lascivious smooch on the 2000 campaign trail is etched in the public memory like an awkward childhood experience -- announced they 'have decided to separate' after 40 years of wedlock, a duration so robust that most statisticians will still count the Gores' marriage as a success."
On Monday's edition of the NPR talk show Tell Me More with Michel Martin, former Washington Post health editor Abigail Trafford also broke out the "Bravo to them" line about the 40 years:
MICHEL MARTIN: Are you as surprised, as so many of the rest of us are, by this news about Al and Tipper Gore?
TRAFFORD: Oh, well, you know, of course. We're all surprised. We're always shocked when people - we have a certain image of them and they split up. But you know, you never know what goes on inside a marriage. And I think we should sort of turn this around. You know, 40 years is a great accomplishment. It's not as though you can take away those 40 years. I say bravo to them.
And this is one of the differences between divorce that occurs late in life and early divorces. In late divorces, you can't erase the past. That's still a glorious past.
MARTIN: You're saying that the 40 years together is still a victory and an accomplishment of which they should be proud, even if the marriage didn't go the distance.
TRAFFORD: Exactly right. Absolutely.
Sally Quinn, the first to blame George W. Bush for the breakup, took the rejoicing to an extreme last Sunday from ther perch at the Washington Post On Faith page in an article titled "The Gift of the Gores."
Rejoice. Al and Tipper have split up.
I know, I know. Separation and divorce are supposed to be bad. Marriage is a sacrament to many, a promise and a moral commitment to God and each other. Certainly everyone I talked to was shocked that the Gores were letting go of that commitment. "How sad" was their initial reaction.
But there's another way to look at it. The Gores have handled their decision to separate with dignity and grace. In doing so, they have given us all a great gift -- an opportunity for a deeply important and mature conversation about the changing nature of marriage in a time when women have equal opportunities, when people are getting married later in life and when life expectancy is much longer.
Not only should we respect their decision, but in some ways we should rejoice in it.
Quinn repeated the Bush line:
Her role as wife of the Congressman, the Senator, the Vice President and the presidential candidate was all-consuming. Then, just as she was about to become First Lady, a role that would give her the clout to make a difference, the Supreme Court handed the presidency to George W. Bush. Al won the election but lost the presidency, a devastating turn of events that sent him into a deep depression.
Imagine what that must have been like for Tipper. Her entire life had been tied to his career. Suddenly, it was all gone. "Poor Al," everyone thought. "Is Al OK? How's Al taking it?" What about Tipper? Not only did she lose her career, but she lost her husband, too, at least emotionally.
After he came out of his depression, Al's new career as Nobel Prize-winning environmental activist kept him traveling the globe. His new interests were not hers. Tipper had been the good wife for 40 years. Now it is time for her.
Quinn insisted the Gores made the right decision to marry, and also the right decision to separate, and even though she was writing for the "On Faith" page, she made no reference to that old notion that what God has joined, let no man separate.