Washington, June 2 (ANI). The perception in the minds of most Americans, especially in the corridors of power, was that the Clintons - Bill and Hillary - would divorce as soon as their stint in the White House ended. So, it came as a surprise and an irony to many that former US Vice-President Al Gore and his wife Tipper announcing on Tuesday that they have separated after four decades of association.
"There was always a perception that the Clintons would split up the day they left the White House," said Don Fowler, a former Democratic National Committee chairman.
"And there was never any hint or suggestion that the Gores would have," the New York Times quoted him as saying further.
He said he was both surprised by the news and not so surprised, given Mr. Gore's reserve compared with his wife's more "extroverted personality."
"We obviously have learned that the public is not always private and the private is not always public," said Gil Troy, who teaches American history at McGill University in Montreal and has written about political marriages.
"But you want to believe that there are certain marriages that will last. And the Gore marriage seemed to have become part of the national furniture in the best of ways. It is ironic that the Gores would outdo the Clintons in getting divorced," he said. "In a sense, getting divorced is the iconic baby boomer act," Troy adds.
Al and Tipper Gore's announcement Tuesday that they would be separating after 40 years together underscores, yet again, a basic truism about any marriage, particularly political ones: You just never know.
The Gores were a political couple whose trademark moment - a big sloppy kiss on the stage of the 2000 Democratic convention - spurred debate about the degree to which public displays of affection become excessive.
They were college sweethearts whose public struggles - her battles with depression, his searing loss to George W. Bush in 2000 - did nothing to suggest anything besides a stable and mutually supportive team.
The Gores - he is 62, she is 61 - were never trailed by rumors or whispers, and people close to the family said Tuesday that they expected no second shoe to drop. This decision, they said, was simply about a couple that had grown apart after four decades.
"I know people are feeling surprised, but there's just not a lot of drama behind this," said a close friend and adviser to the family who declined to be identified in deference to the Gores' wish for privacy.
"They remain very close friends."
In their e-mail message to friends - confirmed by a Gore spokeswoman, Kalee Kreider - the couple cited a "mutual and mutually supportive decision that we have made together following a process of long and careful consideration."
Gore, who has traveled extensively in recent years in support of his business ventures and climate change activism, had settled into a full post-political life.
The Gores recently purchased a home in Montecito, Calif., although friends of the former vice president said he still considered Nashville to be his permanent residence.
In political circles, reaction to the Gore news struck often on the Clinton connection, and the inherent irony of it. (ANI)