The "Reluctant First Lady" Is Now A Thing

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Few in their right minds truly want to be first lady, or go through the increasingly circus-like process of trying to become one. Politico, and the breed of horse-race, minutiae-driven reporting it represents, hasn't make this any easier, and now here it is recognizing the newly frank reluctance of some prospective first ladies.


This part gets meta:

In an era of the 24-7 news cycle and no-holds-barred opposition research, where nearly everything about a candidate's personal and family life is considered fair game, the spouse's acquiescence to a campaign has itself become a news event.

The spouse in question is Cheri Daniels, wife of potential Republican presidential candidate Mitch. Of course, Politico itself was the one to predict in its news story on her "acquiescence," predicting it would "raise eyebrows."

In any case, we believe it is a Thing that the wives of elected officials currently hemming and hawing about the presidency are being more open about how much it sucks. Marsha Barbour, wife of Haley, told a local reporter of the notion of her husband running for president, "It horrifies me." (We agree on something!) And South Dakota Senator John Thune told Politico that his wife had read Game Changer, notorious for its depiction of Elizabeth Edwards as a bitchy psychopath, adding, "It was not helpful... [it was] a downer." He ultimately decided not to run.

Politico's analysis is that "the increasingly prevalent and open expressions of spousal doubts suggest campaigns have altered their expectations for spouses and are moving toward more realistic and authentic expressions of their family circumstances." But strangely enough, it doesn't even mention the name of the potential First Lady who not only openly expressed her doubts about her husband running, but also ended up in the White House against many odds.

That would be Michelle Obama, who famously had to be talked into letting her husband run for the Democratic nomination, and who exacted from him a promise that he would quit smoking in exchange. She would later be accused of excessively chiding him in public, among many other indignities. Her life as First Lady is, by all accounts, rich and interesting and full of experiences she would not have had as a hospital executive or even the wife of a Senator. And yet no one could say, given how circumscribed the role of the First Lady still is and what Obama being president has meant for the family, that she wasn't wrong to have her doubts.


For Some Potential 2012 Candidates' Spouses, Campaign Spotlight Too Bright [Politico]



If Michelle Obama, aka Claire Huxtable incarnate, faces this kind of criticism, I can't help but wonder what others might have suffered.

When I examine the attention & scrutiny which we place on the First Family, I can only see how dearly costs our country potentially great leaders. Colin Powell might have been a viable presidential candidate a solid decade before Obama. But his wife Alma's longtime battle with depression & the feared intrusion into their private lives has kept him from a run. I also shudder to think how Mary Todd Lincoln would have held up to the current media glare.