Sunday, August 08, 2010

The Rules of First Lady Leadership

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," pledging allegiance to the flag since 1964 without really knowing why. Seems so medieval to me somehow, pledging to a banner. Like you'd expect Richard the Lionheart to ride off with it affixed to his lance or something.

Ever since there's been a President of the United States, there has also been a First Lady, or at least some female who served tea in the White House. My first memory of a First Lady was Mrs. John F. Kennedy. I loathed the woman because she dressed her daughter Caroline so well. You see, Caroline and I are the same age, and my mother always used to say, "Caroline Kennedy doesn't complain about crinoline slips or Mary Janes." Then Mom would point to the t.v. -- at a very well-dressed and perfect Caroline -- and I would just seethe.

Of all the First Ladies I can remember, the ones I liked best were Hillary Clinton (because I felt like I was getting twice the bang for my taxpayer buck with her in the White House) and (now it's your turn to seethe) Nancy Reagan.

Just because Hillary's been acting like a queen for the past two weeks or so doesn't make her permanently queenly. She's a hard-working, serious person who helped her horny husband run the USA for eight years.

Nancy Reagan was more of a "traditional" First Lady. She had her soft little "Just Say No" agenda, but mostly all she did was stand beside Ronnie and beam. Did you find it embarrassing that she consulted astrologers about Ronnie's schedule? I didn't. Say what you will about Nancy ... go ahead, I mean it ... but she loved Ronald Reagan. How that is possible is not for me to judge, but she did it and did it well.

In today's New York Times, Maureen Dowd (a progressive columnist) took aim at our current First Lady. While her husband celebrated his 49th birthday in Chicago, Michelle jetted off to Spain, where she has been living large with her daughters in tow. The Spanish government closed a public beach so that she could bathe serenely with her kids and her friends. While her husband turned 49 half a world away.

According to Ms. Dowd, this is just a recent chapter. Quote Dowd: "When health care passed after a difficult year and the president celebrated with his staff on the Truman Balcony, the first lady was with her daughters on Broadway to see 'Memphis.'" On the night when her spouse faced the nation to talk about the Gulf oil spill from the Oval Office, Michelle was at a Lakers game in L.A. (and staying at the Beverly Wilshire).

Here's the message we at "The Gods Are Bored" are drawing from the behavior of our current First Lady:

1. She doesn't love her husband enough to celebrate his birthday with him. Okay, maybe President Obama is a very secure man, but my husband would FREAK if I went to Spain with Heir and Spare on his birthday. Even if this trip is all hunky-dory between the two, it can be inferred that there may be a lack of conjugal bliss.

2. I do not like acronyms, so. What the fuck? Lakers games, Broadway ... while the husband is dealing with difficult national issues? Do you really think Hillary would have let Bill take all the credit for that mostly meaningless health care reform without standing at his side to celebrate?

Okay, okay. It's easy for me to sit here and say what I, Anne Johnson, would do if I suddenly woke up and found myself to be First Lady. But I mean this, because I've lived it. When my husband works hard, I try to help him as much as I can. When he celebrates (he gets a lot of awards), I usually go along. And for the love of every fruit fly buzzing around every peach in every orchard in America even as I write this, I would not leave my husband on his birthday to jet about Spain with my daughters and my chums!

Michelle, I hate to say this, but if you can't rest as high in my regard as Nancy Reagan -- and I'm as blue as Lake Michigan in the sunshine -- whatever are the right-wingers saying about you? Stop playing like a First Lady and work like one. What Would Eleanor of Aquitaine Do?


Mama Kelly aka Jia said...

It needed to be said Anne and you did it very well

Debra She Who Seeks said...

I thought it was strange for her to miss her husband's birthday too, until I read that his "Chicago celebration" was in fact just a big ol' fundraiser for the Democratic party. Maybe she misses these "important dates" so that their daughters don't have to endure being put on display at official functions. They are off doing private, age-appropriate fun things instead.


eleanor would have helped heir and spare take over the white house and country

Kathy said...

My thinking was more along the lines of Debra's, that she's got small children whereas Nancy didn't have any to care for. I think that both Obama and Michelle take pains to make sure their daughters aren't embroiled in the stress that surrounds the position of POTUS. My husband and I made decisions for the sake of our son that kept us on different continents for long periods of time and don't regret them.

But hey, your opinion is as valuable as mine so who's to say who is right?

MusicalMaggie said...

Bad bad Michelle...You ain't gonna keep your man that way!

Lori F - MN said...

I agree with Debra and Kathy. Maybe they are trying to keep the lives of their children as normal as possible.
She's the first lady. HE was the one who was elected. She would act as hostess at the White House.

kimc said...

Other things have indicated that they love each other a lot. I think it may be that they have agreed to protect the kids from the public part of their lives as much as possible: you started this with seething about Caroline Kennedy's perfect crinoline. Maybe that's precisely what the Obamas are avoiding.

PaigeKate said...

I can understand Michelle's POV, with Glen Beck taking potshots at her children, she doesn't want to expose them to politics anymore than necessary. Before Sascha and Malia, there had been no young childen in the WH since Amy Carter, who was about the age Malia is now (I can never get the girls straight.) The Reagans' children were grown, so were Bush Sr's, Chelsea Clinton was a teenager and so were the Bush twins.

Plus, I don't get the big deal about her taking a vacation without him once in awhile, my mother and I do it all the time and my dad doesn't mind. Granted, his birthday is in January, not prime vacation time.

The thing that really irritates me about all the criticism, left and right, is the thing about beach, that was most likely a security measure that the Secret Service insisted on. Security for the First Family is as tight as it is for the President, so most likely, the Spanish government was asked to close the beach for security reasons.

Also, just because Michelle isn't out there all the time talking about her husband's policies, doesn't mean she sits around all day, she has a home to run, a family to take care of, plus all the duties of a First Lady.


Intense Guy said...

Or Eleanor Roosevelt?

Sad thing about all the "self important" claims to need security is that it goes to a politicians head, and badly inflates how important they think they are - just like royalty (and just like royalty, they aren't at all important).