Sunday, March 29, 2009
During the presidential campaign, Michelle Obama was the subject of much scrutiny and criticism. Most of it was for really stupid reasons, like her wardrobe or her strong opinions. Well, why stop at the election, or the inauguration?? It seems that the news media is perfectly content to keep critiquing her choices. This time, it's not about sleeveless tops, but about her "platform" and whether it's too "ambitious."
The role and duties of the first lady is not super well defined. They get stuck with the traditionalist bullshit like hosting tea parties in the White House, of course, but also tend to pick a "platform" of issues that need more publicity and thought. Lady Bird Johnson threw herself into highway beautification and wildflowers, for instance. More recently, First Lady Hillary Clinton chaired the task force on universal health care (we know how THAT worked out....). It seems that First Ladies, since they have given up their own identities and all, have traditionally picked one or two things on which to focus and talk about.
Michelle Obama, however, has a platform with many issues, and that's worrying some people.
She's keen on promoting: Fitness, parenting, the environment, women's rights, self-esteem for young girls, volunteerism, improving life for military families and helping working women balance home and career life.
OMG, she's got varied interests!!!! ARHG!!!!
That list is taken directly from the article (Politico via Yahoo), and I think that in hopes of making it seem really long, they listed things as seperate when they are really sub-issues a larger topic. Self-esteem for young girls, for instance, should really fall under both parenting and women's rights (OMG intersections!!!). Helping working women balance the challenges of careers and home lives.....um, that's also women's rights, and, if I'm not mistaken, it's one of the original tennets of feminism....
Laura Bush's press secretary says that it's important to focus on two or three things with which you can make a difference. Let's see, for Laura Bush, those are....um....hang on....**crickets chirping**
Some marketing person says that if you do more than a couple of things, you will become fragmented. She wonders why Obama is wasting time "planting herbs." Besides the obvious answers (because gardens are cool, because you can teach your kids about plants and biology, because homegrown food is satisfying....), I was smacking my head over this marketing person's company. It specializes in strategic branding.
Yes, because that's what the First Lady should be doing. Strategically branding herself. Turning herself into a simplified, pretty-fied product that can churn out memorized speeches about how "our children should read." Or something.
Just now, Boyfriend had a really good perspective. His thought was that in a perfect egalitarian universe, in which true gender equality is acheived, it really wouldn't matter what the first spouse would do. She or he would keep their job in wherever, jet to DC for part of the week for family time, and otherwise go about his or her business. Since we don't have that yet, we must suffice with the First Lady being a symbolic throwback to the Ladies Auxilliary and stuff like that.
I also brought up the ridiculousness of Bush's press secretary being interviewed, given that I couldn't remember Laura Bush doing anything. He said: "Oh, yes. Wasn't she vociferous in making sure that people in Africa can't get birth control?? See, she did stuff, she was just on the side of Satan!"
So yes, in this weird world where the spouse of the president is unable to go about his or her life, and must sit in the White House looking for things to do, we've got Michelle Obama. We've got someone who is interesting, capable, driven and yes, probably very ambitious. Last I checked, none of these was negative.
(if you want to induce head/desk collisions, here's the article.)
oh! p.s. "she can't possibly talk about military families, because she's never been in one!" um.....she's never been a tomato either, but it's not gonna stop her!