. . . surprisingly doesn’t go to Salon Magazine, despite Will Doig’s extraordinarily inaccurate and unhinged hate-fest aimed at Tampa Bay’s OS (Sin, Original) of failing to buy the kiddies that multi-billion dollar choo-choo train to Disneyworld that nobody needs but would somehow magically transform Central Florida into Seattle. Will continued his no-choo-no-peace rant on Russia Today — of course between jetting in from whatever fabulous city he was previously gracing and jetting off to the next one.
Will, sweetie, we already have food trucks. And, better Cuban sandwiches. And a plethora of tattoos. And rain. Wash your face and calm down. Then go contemplate your own carbon footprint.
Nope, Slate Magazine wins for the weirdest and most inappropriate projection onto the Republican Convention. And even more weirdly, it wasn’t the slightly vicious, slightly dull observer Dave Weigel checking the emotional baggage this time; it was Brian Palmer, who usually writes columns explaining what you should do if a wild Kangaroo attacks you, or how to live without sunlight.
Palmer turned his incisivey, sciencey eye to the Romneys’ marriage. The article starts out seeming normal, but since Slate isn’t Redbook Magazine, there’s no reason to be terribly surprised when it turns nasty:
Should You Marry Your High-School Sweetheart?
It worked for Mitt and Ann Romney.
By Brian Palmer|Posted Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012, at 5:11 PM ET
During her Tuesday night speech at the Republic National Convention, Ann Romney talked about meeting her future husband at a high-school dance. It worked out for Ann and Mitt Romney, but do statistics support the decision to marry your high-school sweetheart?
The premise of this column is simply weird. Who besides the media would watch a politician and his wife talk about their happy marriage and close family and start scribbling away about divorce? Maybe a political strategist for the opposing candidate who wants to paint his opponent as a privileged, out-of-touch chap. But this is a journalism story, not a memo to the Obama campaign, right? Wrong:
Marrying young is one of the most reliable predictors of divorce, especially for women. Those who wed during their teens—Ann Romney was about a month shy of 20 when she married Mitt in 1969—have only a 54 percent chance of remaining married for 10 years. Marrying between the ages of 20 and 24 boosts those odds to 69 percent, while holding off until age 25 lifts the 10-year marriage survival rate to 78 percent. It should be noted that Ann Romney’s marital behavior was fairly typical of her generation: In 1970, the average first-time bride was approximately 21 years old. Today, the average is 26 years old. By some calculations, that change accounts for most of the decline in the national divorce rate over the past 30 years.
Umm, the divorce rate has fallen because marriage is disappearing. I thought this was supposed to be sciencey. Now, for a little Mormon splicing:
Conventional wisdom might hold that the Romneys’ Mormon faith diminished their likelihood of divorce, but religion actually plays a somewhat complicated role in the success of a marriage. The divorce rate for Mormons is slightly higher than that of the general population during the first three years of marriage, probably because Mormon women marry younger than their non-LDS peers.
OK, big question: is Palmer comparing Mormon newly-marrieds to the general population of newly-marrieds, or to the general population of newly marrieds who marry between 20 and 24? Because, he’s straying from making any point at all. Just asking. I like statistics. They feel so bracingly . . . busy.
Mormons who make it through that adjustment period, however, are more likely than other Americans to remain married. In addition, Ann Romney was an Episcopalian when she met Mitt, but, by some accounts, she was raised in a largely nonreligioushousehold. That would render her more likely to divorce than people raised by more religious families.
This is where the article gets creepy. Reducing Ann Romney to a statistic is bad enough: lumping her into a statistical group to which she doesn’t belong smacks of wish-fulfillment. And plucking an individual out of the story she’s telling about her life and wedging her down into an unrelated social issue isn’t merely exploitative: it’s exploitative in a particularly partisan way — to mute the story she’s telling and replace it with Romney-bashing.
It’s as if the reporter is trying to cast Ann Romney as a disobedient Julia, refusing the state’s ever-so-well-intentioned efforts to husband her. She’s being the anti-Stepford Wife, no matter how hard they try to make her into the Stepford Wife. Meanwhile, the Stepford Wife has morphed into a husbandless, eyeless, and mouthless Democratic robot sitting in her imaginary dollhouse waiting for her government benefits check to come so she can meet her girlfriends for a night on the town.
But there’s more:
One statistical factor working in the Romney marriage’s favor was the couple’s geographic location. According to recent studies, couples in left-leaning, blue states are significantly less likely to divorce. The divorce rate in the Romneys’ current home state, Massachusetts, is the lowest in the country, and Michigan, where they wed, boasts fewer divorces per capita than bright-red Utah.
So you see, the Romney’s don’t have a happy marriage because they built it: they have a happy marriage because they statistically absorbed marital success by living in proximity to enlightened Democrats in Massachusetts.
You know, like the Kennedys.