Newsweek is first out of the box with the mandatory isn’t- it-difficult-to-be-first-lady in the post feminist age story for the coming political system.
As you can imagine, Newsweek sees “signs of progress” on the first lady front where some of us might see something quite to the contrary:
Even as Mrs. Obama does the dougie with schoolkids, California Gov. Jerry Brown’s wife, Anne, occupies an office across the hall from her husband and is a key part of his administration (either a fantastic or a horrifying development, depending on your perspective).
I’m so appalled at the notion of a first lady doing the dougie in public that I can’t begin to address the separate issue of Anne Brown’s office. But then I’d be appalled at any grown woman who did the dougie with children present. By the way, I’m willing to bet you that Mrs. Obama wouldn’t do the dougie if she were visiting, say, Sidwell Friends, the fancy prep school her own girls attend, instead of a public school.
What I dislike in the Newsweek piece (besides the clichés-you know there’s gonna be a picture of Pat Nixon looking pained-and, sure enough, there it is!) is the notion that a political wife suffers so because she can’t have her own career. Surely, two adults can work this out before it becomes a national issue. There’s no sense that a modern woman could possibly be honored by being first lady.
Needless to say, Democratic first ladies fare better than Republican first ladies, though Democrats seem to have to struggle harder to suppress their innate braininess. But what I found so hilarious is that in expressing faux concern about how awful it is that first lady candidates must undergo scrutiny, the writer is as catty as can be:
(Memo to Callista Gingrich: lose the platinum helmet hair.)
My memo to all wives of Republican candidates: Don’t pay that much attention to the scribes at places like Newsweek. They aren’t your friends. This piece was pegged to a recent speaking engagement by Cheri Daniels, wife of Mitch Daniels, governor of Indiana and a possible Republican presidential candidate. I have to admit that Ms. Daniels does have an interesting marital history:
In 1993, Cheri left Mitch and their four young children to move to California and wed another man-only to return, reconcile, and remarry Mitch four years later. Suffice it to say this is not the sort of personal narrative common among aspiring first couples. (One can only imagine the chitchat when Laura Bush recently phoned Cheri to recommend the joys of White House life.)
It’s odd, yeah, but wouldn’t think a Newsweek sophisticate would regard Cherie’s marital adventures as a wonderful example of post-feminist freedom or something? Don’t count on that kind of broadmindedness from Newsweek. While so-called values voters may be impressed that Mitch took her back, presumably upholding the importance of marriage (and liking Cherie!), the mainstream media is going to have a field day. Memo to Cheri Daniels: Pay them no mind.