Arlene Green

Arlene Green
Clearlake, California, USA
January 08
Geek girl, mother of more children than human beings should be allowed, owner of a snake named Plissken, several dogs, a plethora of cats, easily annoyed, easily overjoyed, will work for books.


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Editor’s Pick
JUNE 22, 2008 5:00PM

The Michelle Potential

Rate: 3 Flag

There are two jobs someone can hold that I wouldn't want to have to play supportive spouse to. One is preacher and the other is politician. They both live in a fishbowl and people live to pull them down. Michelle Obama is now in the position of having to support her spouse in the most scrutinized support role in the US of A.

Life in the political fishbowl isn't easy on anyone but it is especially brutal for the people and families of the highest office in the land. It ages the people living the role. If you did a flip book of the faces of the Presidents and their spouses you would be able to see the stress land on their faces and commence to do the merengue. It leaves little dents and divots and signs of its passage with each year.

Both the press and your political opponents watch your every move in the hopes that you will do something that they can lead or criticize with. Any little thing will do. How you dress, what you say, who your friends are, what you did when you were 19 and still young and stupid...nothing is safe.

I would go crazy in that circumstance. I'm and extrovert and not particularly a private person. I don't give a damn what anyone thinks about me. But I don't think myself or the world would survive Arlene as First Lady. I could not live my life walking in stylish heels on eggshells. Not without giving my handlers an ulcer.

The older I've gotten, the more the deliberate polish of politicians and political spouses has rubbed me the wrong way. It is all so fake. Everything carefully manufactured, primped and shined to make the best impression on the majority of the people. I ache for something real. It is one of the reasons I was a little fond of Dan Quayle. Sure, the man was not the sharpest tool in the shed, but at least you got to see a little of who he really was through all his bumbling.

Even President Clinton, whom I loved, sometimes made my teeth itch because he would lay it on a little thick sometimes and call up visions of used car salesmen in my head.

There is no doubt in my mind that for Michele Obama the pressure is on right now. More for her than it has been for any other potential First Lady. This country hasn't evolved enough yet so that the color of her skin is a non-issue. Because she is black I can make an educated guess that her handlers and advisors are burning extra midnight oil. They are working to come up with an image and a public face that is not only above reproach for most but also as innocuous as possible. Difference in race still threatens some of us.

I wish the above weren't true, but it most likely is.

What I hope and want to see is for her to not allow them to turn her into Oreo Fun Barbie grows up and marries well. That she will continue to be the intelligent, well educated and outspoken woman that she showed herself to be during her husband's campaign.

I certainly don't need or want a vanilla, innocuous Michelle Obama. The country will be done no favors if she steps into the shadow of her husband and plays the role of dutiful yes-wife. We've had plenty of nodding, smiling do-gooding First Ladies. Women who, while not offensive in any way, were also nothing more than window dressing. We don't need another one.

What our country needs to see is a strong, savvy, opinionated first lady. Someone who can show the world that it is possible to support your husband and not sublimate yourself to him in the same breath.

She has the potential to do this for us. All that remains to be seen is if she has the strength and courage. If I could tell her one thing it would be to be herself and to trust herself and to pay no heed to the press or her husband's political opponents when they criticize. We need her to be real too much for her to let the buzzards drag her down.


Thanks to Lonnie for bringing my attention to this article on Anovelista.com:

On First Ladies named Michelle...and Diane

It is a very well written piece on the black women throughout history who were married to prominent men. Inspiring and gives me hope that Michelle will live up to her potential.

Mrs. Obama nonetheless believes that it’s better for voters to understand her husband and herself before deciding on their choice. “My hope is that Americans really want to know who the people who are going to be in the White House are,” she says." -Anovelista. com


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I always think of the first ladies, both presidential and not, who, after being tweaked and handled and morphed into a kinder more placid, vanilla version of themselves, have had to endure humilation that no one should have to put up with, Pat Nixon, both during the "Checkers" speech and then when Nixon resigned, Mrs. McGreevy (see I don't even know her first name) while her NJ governor husband came out as gay and resigned, Silda (I looked it up) Spitzer during Eliot's call-girl fall from grace. Invariably, the news reports give a slight mention to their presence, "With his wife by his side." Knowing myself as I do, and I do, I might start the news conference "by his side" but sometime in the midst of it, I'd be shoving the man and calling him as asshole and how dare he do this to me after all I've been through for him?

So, like you Arlene, I could not be a political wife, even if they ignored my intelligence, my outspokenness, and my many skeletons, which, of course, they would not.
Oh, and thanks for the "Oreo Fun Barbie" link. At first, I thought it was a parody so was shocked to read it was a real doll/brainchild of Nabisco and Mattel. Were they insular or just stupid?
The Oreo Barbie link led me to this site, where, on June 12, the blogger put up a pretty interesting piece on the whole Michelle Obama as First Lady proposition. Sorry, her site doesn't provide permalinks to individual posts, so you'll have to look for "On First Ladies Named Michelle...and Diane". Worth reading for all here are so clearly engaged on this aspect of the campaign.

Yup. Faced with that kind of insult to injury I'd likely end up brawling with someone. It is high time we stopped doing the cookie cutter mold political wife thing.

As for the Oreo Barbie, who knows. It has to be one of the most stupidly thoughtless marketing campaigns from Mattel ever. Which is saying a lot, since they've had some real humdingers.
Lonnie, thanks so much for the link. I figured out how to link to the actual article and added it to my post. Quite a find that one.
I have great hopes for Michelle too, it's hard to wait for the new chapter to commence.

I can't believe tone deaf, insensitive, blockhead marketing at times. you'd think there would have been someone at Mattel who could have said "wait a minute guys."

Lonnies link led to some amazing stuff as well. Thanks to you both Arlene and Lonnie.