Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Why it sucks being married to a politician

Whatever you think of Obama as President, this article posted on Alternet, based on this article published in the NY Times, provides an interesting angle on the Obama marriage. (The NY Times article is interesting but spun so I found the Alternet take on it is easier to handle).

It is interesting to get an insight into, as usual, how much His career has cost Her, as well as how this isn't something she wanted and openly pushed back against. This has to be the reality for a lot of political partnerships but not something usually discussed publicly.

When Barack told Michelle that he wanted to run for a Senate seat, when they lived in Chicago and had young kids, she wasn't pleased. They had friends and colleagues over at their house, and though he wanted her support, it was clear everyone was gung-ho except her.

" 'I married you because you're cute, and you're smart,' Michelle later said she told her husband, 'but this is the dumbest thing you could have ever asked me to do.' "

And she didn't keep quiet about her frustration. "Unlike the wife who smiles tightly and insists everything is fine, Michelle sent a clear series of distress signals not only to her husband but to everyone around her.

" 'Barack and I, we're doing a lot of talking,' she would say when asked how she was holding up, according to the Rev. Alison Boden, a former colleague at the University of Chicago … more than a few Chicagoans knew that Michelle once openly resented what her husband's political career had cost her."
The following is a nice example of Michelle calling Barack publicly on his BS!

The NYT writer asked how any couple can have a truly equal partnership when one member is president. The president responded: " 'My staff worries a lot more about what the first lady thinks than they worry about what I think,' he finally said, to laughter around the room."

Then Michelle contradicts him: " 'Clearly, Barack's career decisions are leading us. They're not mine; that's obvious. I'm married to the president of the United States. I don't have another job, and it would be problematic in this role. So that -- you can't even measure that.' "

It's my favourite moment in the piece, because she doesn't let him get away with glossing over things, even when that might be expected. Kate Harding from Jezebel wrote, "Can I just tell you how much I love that Michelle doesn't let him get away with turning it all into a joke? (Especially a hoary old, "Oh, really, my wife's the one with all the power!" joke. For fuck's sake, you're the president of the United States. That joke is annoying when regular guys make it to avoid directly addressing the actual inequality in their marriages, and off-the-charts annoying when you do it.)
Full article here.

1 comment:

A Nonny Moose said...

I think it's great to hear Michelle being very open about how constricting life as the First Lady can be, even though she's obviously doing great things. I've just read Hillary Rodham Clinton's autobiography and it's interesting how similar her feelings were - she was a powerful woman with a great career of her own. As she said "Being the First Lady was the first time I'd never had a job in my life".

How difficult it must be to subsume your career ambitions for 4 years (or even 8?) because, by law, she can't have a paid job. I don't like how the media have "mommy-fied" her, or framed her as being calmed down, but she is doing important work as FL.

I like Michelle. She's going to show a new generation of women how to be powerful, and be loud n proud.