November 05, 2005
The First Sign of First-Lady-Itis
By Pepper of the Daily Pepper
It happened to Laura Bush, and now it's happening to Maria Shriver. Sooner or later, one of these women has to ask why they are being forced to sit at the children's table for the holidays.
A recent LA Times article asks where Maria Shriver has been while her husband Arnold Schwarzenegger stumps for his ludicrous special-election initiatives. Some think she isn't honoring the Kennedys. Some think she isn't honoring her husband. I just wish she's find her spine and say something. But both Shriver and Queen Laura have been shunted off to deal with "women's issues" as defined by the Republican party. To the Republicans, "women's issues" means "children's issues."
The LA Times describes how Maria has been relegated to hanging out with the little ones while Big Daddy does his job:
On a recent morning, Maria Shriver had a roomful of admiring listeners hanging on her every word. Unfortunately for her husband ... none of them was old enough to vote. Shriver was addressing a fourth-grade class at Charles W. Barrett Elementary School in South Los Angeles as part of a campaign to improve disaster preparedness among children.
In this election, she has been mostly absent from the trail, devoting herself to other causes, including highlighting the role of women in California history and raising awareness of obesity in children.
There's nothing wrong with wanting to brighten a child's day, but why oh why must First Ladies in general stick to the "it's all about the children" script so closely? Mix it up for a change! Her fights don't even have to be about abortion or feminism. It hasn't occurred to conservatives and to the Republican Party as a whole that women might be concerned about fair wages, or better preventitive health care. Why is it that people have to assume, "Oh, she's a woman. She must be interested in children." These days, politicians no longer have to kiss babies to win because their wives do it for them.
And, I'd also like to ask, do you think this problem applies to both liberals and conservatives? Do female politicians tend to get stuck at the children's table?
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"improve disaster preparedness among children"
That's like demonstrating the "duck and cover" manouver?
Posted by: klevenstein | Nov 5, 2005 1:19:27 PM
About a week ago, Schriver was at some assembly dealing with some issue (can't recall what, may have been women's issues) and she said at one point from the podium that her husband was moderate and not extreme - or words to that effect.
Posted by: Quiddity | Nov 5, 2005 2:13:33 PM
The last two first ladies who tried to be involved in something other than children's issues or home decorating were and still are the subject of blistering criticism on their home life, their children, their marriages, their sexuality, their honesty and just about every other aspect of their lives and characters. Most first ladies are made of as strong stuff as Mrs. Roosevelt and Sen. Clinton.
Posted by: J Bean | Nov 5, 2005 3:45:39 PM
Most first ladies are not made of as strong stuff as Mrs. Roosevelt and Sen. Clinton.
Can you name another first lady who has expressed an interest outside of the acceptable issues?
Posted by: J Bean | Nov 5, 2005 3:47:45 PM
I can't. But I have to say that I loved Howard Dean's wife. She is a doctor, and she was on only one interview. It was with Diane Sawyer, after Howard's barbaric YAAAAAGH! And Sawyer gave Dean's wife (I don't mean to use the possessive - I don't remember her name right now) such crap because she wasn't in the spotlight. The Other Dr. Dean said that her responsibility was to her patients, and good for her! I was in love with the idea of a first lady who HAD A REAL JOB.
Posted by: Pepper | Nov 5, 2005 5:08:52 PM
Klevenstein, very funny. The late Lewis Grizzard wrote about a conversation he had with a pilot. Grizzard asked, "What should you do when your plane is about to crash?"
The pilot responded, "Put your head down real tight in between your knees."
Grizzard asks, "Then what?"
"Kiss your ass goodbye."
Posted by: Pepper | Nov 5, 2005 5:10:23 PM
Betty Ford brought the issue of alcoholism and women out into the public sphere. She also did a lot to raise awareness about breast cancer.
Posted by: cali dem | Nov 6, 2005 5:31:34 PM
In Maria's case, when she tried to use her political capital to highlight a serious problem, it backfired badly. Also, in fairness to Maria Shriver and her working with kids, she's always shown an interest in children. She's authored several books for children. Even so, you can't notice that after her PR debacle that's she back in familiar territory.
Posted by: cali dem | Nov 6, 2005 5:52:05 PM
Really, really frightening books for children. I mean, could you come up with a more unfortunate title for a kid's book about disabilities than "What's Wrong With Timmy?"
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