On September 18th, in an address to visiting women's groups at the White House, first lady Michelle Obama voiced her health care concerns. According to Mrs. Obama, the current health care system prevents women from obtaining “true equality.” Health care reform, she said, is very much a women's issue. Her supporters have lauded her speech as a “political coming out,” and predict similar such events. Michelle Obama is, after-all, an Ivy-League educated lawyer, an accomplished woman with definite opinions of her own.
Throughout America's history, presidential wives have exerted considerable influence over their partners. Abigail Adams, for example, was an eloquent patriot who vocally supported her husband, John. In 1921, Eleanor Roosevelt ably took the political reins when Franklin contracted polio. And how could we forget Hillary Clinton, who wrangled an official office in her husband's administration, and purposefully manipulated her way through his political mess to aid her own political ambitions? (Now there's a big, red flag!)
The American people did not elect Michelle Obama. Her opinions of health care reform, or any other political issue, are irrelevant. She is the President's wife, and as such, has no place mixing in the political game. To say that the President's spouse should be seen and not heard would be archaic, of course, but a wedding ring should not grant the First Lady political privilege, or position her on the fast-track to a political career of her own.
Should Michelle Obama wear peter-pan collars and pearls, and solely dedicate herself to decorating the White House? Hardly! Our current first lady is a modern woman, no shrinking violet; neither is she an elected politician. As the American people wade through President Obama's proposed health care reform, we must be wary who we listen to, and conscious of personal agendas and public relations hype, especially when presented in a charming, Ivy League package.