First Ladies

(Trash Boat)– Yesterday I watched the Democratic Convention, where I listened to Michelle Obama’s speech, and it was truly amazing. I’m talking misty eyes, goosebumps, the whole nine yards. Perhaps some of her tactics were a bit predictable; she had to, of course, mention her and Barack’s modest beginnings, when his “only pair of decent shoes was a half size too small.” But if her goal was to make people feel for her and her husband, she did it. I mean, if that image of her sickly father, “who had to prop himself up against the bathroom sink, and slowly shave, and button his uniform,” doesn’t make your eyes well a little, what does?

Michelle’s Speech

After I watched Michelle’s speech, I decided to check out the other side. So I went on YouTube and watched Ann Romney’s speech. This, I almost regret doing. I’m a Democrat, but not especially politically involved, so I thought I would find Michelle and Ann reasonably on par with each other. But even if you were to ignore the content, in terms of delivery, Michelle straight up kicked Ann’s oral ass.

Ann’s Speech

But I couldn’t fully enjoy this little victory for the Democrats, because I felt bad. I felt, and still feel, that it’s unfair to judge Mitt Romney based on his wife’s performance. So what if Ann isn’t a great speaker. Hopefully Mitt wasn’t concerned about her stage presence when he decided to marry her. Frankly, who cares about the First Lady at all? Why is she an important figure?

One might argue that we must be careful of our First Lady because her opinions will impact our president’s opinions. To that, I say maybe. Politicians bend over backwards to convince us all that they are part of perfect marriages. Michelle and Ann both made it a point to repeatedly mention how “deeply” they love their husbands in their speeches. But you’ve got to be skeptical of all that. Undoubtedly, there have been presidents with bad marriages, who simply have managed to keep that ugly secret under wraps. The Clintons may be an example. (I can’t really say that they don’t have a wonderful marriage. But let’s not forget Monica Lewinsky now). Who’s to say that a husband always, or even ever, listens to his wife? Who’s to say that we should link the president’s character to his wife’s?

Maybe I’m just a cynic.

Well then, I guess we really need a strong First Lady so that she can fulfill all of her crucial duties…which are what again?

A First Lady has no specific role. She’s not elected. She doesn’t have a contract stating that she will serve our nation for as long as her husband is president. Rather, she is more just the Hostess of the White House. She may, if she wants, organize functions, or host events in her husband’s absence. This is all very much expected, but also very much voluntary. Therefore, if you were the president, and who had a bimbo of a wife, or husband (First Gentleman? First Lord?), you could have your partner just be that: your partner and nothing else.

I have a little guilt around criticizing the role of First Lady for two reasons. One, I love Michelle (just look at those shoulders). And two, I love to hear a woman’s voice in our government. I wholeheartedly believe that we need more women in politics. But I want a woman that we actually elect to be heard. I look for a leader whose political accomplishments go beyond being a wife.