Let’s Drink to Phasing Out the First Lady

The Office of the First Lady is a boondoggle and an offense to women. Let's shut it down.

  • Share
  • Read Later

Just how bad is America’s underemployment crisis, in which college grads toil in dead-end jobs that don’t even require higher education, much less advanced degrees?

Consider this: The country’s leading health-and-nutrition buttinsky has not just one but two Ivy League diplomas and earned over a quarter-of-a-million dollars back in 2006, before the Great Recession destroyed the hopes and dreams of entire generations, including those not yet born. Now she makes no salary at all and provides diet-and-exercise information that doesn’t even require a GED.

I speak of course of First Lady Michelle Obama, whose bold new initiative aims to get Americans to drink more…water. “Water is so basic,” Mrs. Obama told residents of Wisconsin’s Watertown (a coincidence, I’m sure). “And because it is so plentiful, sometimes we just forget about it amid all the ads we watch on television and all the messages we receive every day about what to eat and drink….The truth is, water just gets drowned out.”

Screw “Let’s Move,” Mrs. Obama’s previous crusade, which was designed to make us exercise. Now it’s time for “Let’s Drink.” But only water. Even in this economy – and despite ubiquitous government surveillance, constant rumors of war, and the slim but real possibility that any of us might accidentally show up on her husband’s secret kill list.

Can we please make it stop? And by it, I don’t just mean Mrs. Obama’s seemingly non-stop nagging and noodging about our weight. (In 2010, she transformed the South Lawn into a fitness boot camp for the White House Easter Egg Roll.)

And I don’t just mean her high-profile faux pas, such as when she showed up to dish out food to the homeless while sporting a pair of $540 sneakers. Or her pricey Christmas displays whose extravagance calls to mind both Marie Antoinette and Nancy Reagan.

No, I mean the entire Office of the First Lady, which consists of about two dozen people whose salaries are paid for by taxpayers. Isn’t there a budget crisis going on? Money is supposed to be so tight at the federal level that White House tours have been canceled and the president is down to employing just two (count ‘em) calligraphers. And yet we can afford a publicly subsidized entourage for the First Lady?

It’s not simply a question of money, of course. And it’s certainly not a question of gender, either. Who can imagine what fresh horrors await the American public if and when Sarah Palin or Hillary Clinton gain the Oval Office? Could official “Let’s Snowmobile!” or “Let’s Kegel!” crusades be far off if Todd Palin or Bill Clinton become First Dude?

There’s a larger philosophical question at issue here. The whole point of a small “R” republic such as America is that it is supposed to do away with the spectacular and gaudy displays of familial privilege favored by monarchy and aristocracy. The government is not only elected, it’s supposed to be limited and its representatives – including the president him or herself – should eschew the courtly trappings of kings and queens.

Bill Clinton’s “two for the price of one” line back in 1992 didn’t simply rankle people who disliked Hillary Clinton – it offended people who take seriously the whole basis of the United States. To her credit, if not necessarily the country’s benefit, Hillary Clinton has blazed her own path as a senator and cabinet official (even as she must be agonizing over the prospect of Bill as First Husband).

It would be far better if Michelle Obama – and all past and future First Spouses – had taken the cues laid down by Howard Dean’s wife during the former Vermont governor’s bid for president in 2004. A practicing medical doctor, Judith Steinberg Dean chose to continue making rounds with her patients rather than jawboning the press and boring people with pet projects and causes. Ironically, her decision was seen as controversial precisely because it revealed that the Deans understood the deep structure of what is truly radical in the American political experiment.

Would that Michelle Obama might learn that lesson. Certainly she would be a far stronger role model – for young women and recent college grads, at least – if she continued to pursue her own career and show how it’s still possible to use what you learn in college in your professional life. That would surely be worth drinking to – and probably with something a bit stronger than water.

464 comments
JackKennedy1
JackKennedy1

Personally I thought this was funny as hell

ksuchomel
ksuchomel

I hope you don't get paid fro writing this.  Such a waste of a writer talent.  We should get rid of your job.  And you must be Republican since you only complained about Michele and Hillary, leaving out the Bush's, etc.

ypojoyce
ypojoyce

Nick can you get any more petty?

Try drinking some water, maybe it will help you think clearer.

I know I'm not your target audience, you are just spewing for the Obama hater echo chambers, where your  whines will echo for for months to come.

In the real world you just look pathetic.

ChickPatterson
ChickPatterson

I only wish she was championing breathing so people like this author would stop doing it to spite her. How small can he be? miniscule apparently.

ignatzz
ignatzz

"SHE SAID PEOPLE SHOULD DRINK MORE WATER!!!!!!!  WILL THIS OPPRESSION NEVER END?????"

George286
George286

This is just Michelle-bashing Nick, pretty low-hanging fruit.  There are expectations of the First Lady (maybe change that to First Spouse I suppose), here and abroad at the side of the president and, while there are no official duties she has to meet all sorts of protocol and like it or not sets an example.  She could I suppose hang around the house eating bon-bons and watching The View, refuse to meet the Putins, etc..  She needs a staff to meet these obligations and implied expectations, it's a job.  Having a favorite cause is a good way to give tribute by example to volunteerism.

SteveWilson
SteveWilson

Not so. When handled with dignity,it is a great place and position to make a difference. Its not the title or office,its the personnel.....

eddie.thebeaver
eddie.thebeaver

I bet if the first lady were Anne Romney (it could have happened if Mitt ran a better campaign), and started espousing her causes (which are good I think) of faith based initiatives and Operation Kids as she did when she was first lady of Massachusetts, and had a similar staff to all first ladies in office in the past few terms (20 - 25 or whatever), this article would not even have been written. 

What is it about President Obama and the first lady that upset the right so much?  Is is that President Obama has been the most successful progressive President since LBJ?  Is it that he is so obviously articulate?  Is it, frankly, because he is black (which certainly SOME of the commentators here are bothered by). Is it because he won reelection last year?   Whatever it is, it is not doing the United States any good right now. 

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

So, TIME Magazine is clearly appealing to the youth demographic by hiring a libertarian columnist.

What TIME neglected to do was vet said columnist's previous writings to ensure they weren't worthy of suffering the same fate as used toilet paper.

"First Lady" is a tradition in American politics, whereby she can raise awareness of all sorts of special causes.  Think of it as a (admittedly minor) celebrity lending their celebrity for good works.

CharlesofWavelandMS
CharlesofWavelandMS

She just needs to drink a lot more water herself and eat a lot less hip food to set an example in order to even try to tell anyone what to eat or drink. 

nicmart
nicmart

Absolutely agree. President's wives should have only the role of hostess.

gmatt_911
gmatt_911

Wow, what a racist reporter. Must be a Paula Deen fan.

ReasonableRick
ReasonableRick

What a waste of internet space this article is!!!  There is nothing wrong with encouraging people to stay hydrated by drinking water.  Many people forget the obvious.  I have no doubt that you wrote this article while you were trying to hydrate yourself with alcohol.  That or being politically hateful can be your only excuse. 

NoreenCerino
NoreenCerino

There's nothing racist here. Mrs Obama has a staff of 22 paid for by the taxpayers, several making well over $100,000. That is 20 more than any other first lady. Her school lunch program is a dismal failure since children don't like it and dump it in the garbage. Older students are left still hungry. Instead of telling us we need to eat more fruits and vegetables (what a concept!), she should be lobbying for clean food and come out against  our children being fed Roundup, aspartame and msg (known neurotoxins), and fluorinated water, among other things. At least demand labeling! Only organic food is allowed in the WH kitchen, but they could care less what's in the food your children eat. In light of her meager accomplishments as 1st lady, I'd say 22 staff members to serve her needs at our expense is 22 too many.

eagle11772
eagle11772

Since they are unelected, First Ladies, of WHATEVER political party, should be seen, and not heard.

oldbroad
oldbroad

I don't have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out but by God I'd find the money to send their worthless  asses ANY WHERE but the good old USA ! And you with them you pinko conmmie !

aboutbebout
aboutbebout

Let her pose for her White House portrait, and then let history have her.  It is interesting that we never saw the children, or mysterious mother-in-law.  She served a noble purpose -- she eased a lot of Liberal guilt.

shirley
shirley

Is she the only first lady whom ever had an office who consisted of over a dozen people?  Leave the woman alone!  When it all boils down to it, this all has to do with race.  I can't wait for their term to be over and I hope they leave this racist country and  somewhere like the Caribbean where no one sees color.  Do we forget Bush, his drug addict self, his druken daughters and his slow looking wife?   Go get a life and find other important things to write about!!!

Sven2547
Sven2547

Michelle Obama supports DRINKING WATER.  Conservatives outraged.

This piece is an embarrassment.  It's not about the office of First Lady, it's just a petty attack on Mrs. Obama.  She gives food to the poor, but her SHOES make is a faux pas?  She's not the one being shallow, you are.

1karlhardy
1karlhardy

I heard Michelle speak in the first electon - and thought she was a highly intelligent  powerful woman who could make a difference for women s rights  ,,,,,,,,was I ever wrong!

  

blackrabbi
blackrabbi

" Plus, water is almost universally available.  You can find it anywhere, and it’s free." Her elevator does not get to the roof.

SteveWilson
SteveWilson

@eddie.thebeaver I will tell you. No First Lady ever has made such a brazen attempt to coopt the title to make political points. No First Lady has tried so hard,since Hilary,to tell us what to do and when to do it. In short,no class.

ignatzz
ignatzz

@CharlesofWavelandMS What are you talking about?  She looks as healthy as a horse, and is obviously in TERRIFIC condition.

AnnieLayer
AnnieLayer

@NoreenCerino According to an Associated Press story on October 6, 2009, Laura Bush had a staff of between 24 and 26 by the end of President George W. Bush's term in 2009, citing Anita McBride, Laura Bush's chief of staff. Check the Ronald Reagan Library, -- based on the internal Executive Office of the President phone books -- of all the full-time staffers who worked in the Nancy Reagan's office. In all, that came to 53 employees. Facts, here, sweetie, truth is based on the FACTS.

PreachersKid
PreachersKid

@NoreenCerino According to Anita McBride, Mrs. Bush's Chief of Staff, Laura Bush had a staff of 24 to 26 people directly working for her so, Mrs. Obama's staff is actually smaller.  Please do a little research before spreading your hateful lies.  Mrs. Obama campaigns for healthy food choices (which do not include aspartame or msg; and whether or not to Fluoridate is a decision made by local communities, not the Federal government.  Contrary to your diatribe, I think Mrs. Obama has demonstrated that she cares very much what children eat.  She cannot, however, override menu choices.  If you buy food with roundup in it, or dine at restaurants that include msg in their entrees, or fail to monitor what your local schools feed your children I can't image why you would hold Mrs. Obama accountable.  The junk your children eat is your responsibility.  She is just trying to bypass your poor decision-making by helping children learn what is healthy for them. 

voodoodidaleedo
voodoodidaleedo

@shirley race? you think this has to do with race? do you even know where you are? Well it looks as if we have a simple minded person cannot comprehend scrutiny so he/she says the article is racist even though nothing contained in the article reflected anything relating to racism. Might i add that you said this country is racist. would you like me to bring up statistics about racial crime in america? i would be glad to show you and than laugh as you try to squirm your way out of the argument attempting to refute facts. 

Openminded1
Openminded1

@shirley slow looking wife. laura bush was a very attractive women. You are the one making in to race issue. and parts of the caribbean see color ,jamicans  do not like white people, and the bahamas and the virgin islands are mainly black moron, like most of the caribbean so they see white people on vacation, you think the locals do not see color. have you ever been there. i have maybe 15 times and i love it , nice people as a whole but they see color moron. 

eagle11772
eagle11772

@Sven2547 "She gives food to the poor" ? !  You mean "she uses taxpayer's money to give food away for nothing."

Openminded1
Openminded1

@Sven2547 liberals dumb asses and kiss asses and outraged because someone attacked there first lady, it has been going on for years with all first ladies dumbo.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@1karlhardy She is intelligent and articulate and dresses nice too. so what no one here is saying she is not intelligent. she is a very sharp women, a muslim but sharp.

eagle11772
eagle11772

@blackrabbi Actually, fresh drinking water is very scarce in many parts of the world that are inhabited by people.  I live in the desert n southern Arizona, and humans would not be able to live here unless water was imported, which it is here.  You're not too knowledgeable about things in this world, are you ?

AnnieLayer
AnnieLayer

@blackrabbi If you think water is universally available, I have to assume you are not speaking about drinkable water. More than a billion people lack access to safe drinking water, and an estimated 14,000 die EVERY DAY because of this lack. I have to assume your screenname "blackrabbi" does not refer to any variation of skin color, but to the black hole that has sucked all your intelligence into the void.

ignatzz
ignatzz

@SteveWilson @eddie.thebeaver This is completely standard ground for a first lady, not even SLIGHTLY unusual.  Nancy Reagan campaigned against drugs; Laura Bush encouraged reading and education; Michelle Obama is encouraging healthy eating.

What's your REAL problem with her?

gmatt_911
gmatt_911

@eagle11772 Are you serious? Are you actually upset that some of your tax dollars went towards feeding the poor? Go kill yourself.

TomAnderson
TomAnderson

@AnnieLayer @blackrabbi Annie, reading comprehension is not your strong suit, is it.  Blackrabbi appears to me to be indicating how foolish it is to state that water is universally available.  Which is your position.  So much for your intelligence.


eagle11772
eagle11772

@cjslim @blackrabbi Actually, some do.  I've used them in several buildings to go to the roof in New York City buildings to do some work on equipment located there.  Apparently, you are ignorant.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@cjslim @blackrabbi you are wrong about that , some go to roof top pools and decks. i live in one such building. you must live in the hood or trailer park maybe some rural area, some ofv the best codo buildings and hotels have roof top access via an elevator.

ignatzz
ignatzz

@gmatt_911 @eagle11772 Yes.  Modern American conservative "Christians" hate poor people, and are in for a brutal surprise if they actually meet Jesus after they die.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@ignatzz @Openminded1 dumb ass do you think he would be president if he went to a mosque? that would be like a guy in detroit running for mayor going to KKK meetings. he did not announce he was a .muslim and could not . One of the reason that moron Mormon Mitt R did not have a .chance , most of america is not going to put a mormon in the Oval office.

ignatzz
ignatzz

@Openminded1 [I also said she is a muslim and she is like her husband  and his family.]

Yes, "The United Church of Christ" is obviously Muslim.  You can tell by the name.


Openminded1
Openminded1

@StormyAlexandraPerez @Openminded1 @1karlhardy Do you f-ing read what is said or what your mind tells you want to hear. I said she is articulate and sharp intelligent women, I also said she is a muslim and she is like her husband  and his family. That is part of being open telling the truth she is smart but is a muslim, you have a real hard time comprehending and do the twist the story thing like a lot of blacks do. the major black latina thing attitude I see.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@ypojoyce @Openminded1 @AnnieLayer @blackrabbi no anger issues YPO i am a happy easy going retired 63 year old, happy marriage of 35 years and living very nicely. I just say it like it is and weak liberals like you can not take it, you are new to this post to some research before you insert your big mouth.