Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Presidential Pardon Me

Have you heard the one about our current commander-in-chief, who recently stated that the position of First Lady should be a salaried one?

I don’t know how you feel about it, Dear Reader, and far be it from me to get political here, but I think that it’s absolute nonsense.  Former First Lady Laura Bush agrees with me (she stated it in an article - I don’t actually know her).  I imagine the whirring sound we hear right about now is Jacqueline Kennedy spinning in her grave at the very idea.

In the article, Mrs. Bush mentioned the perks that come along with the position.  I think grand vacations on the nation’s dime fall into this category, as well as access to all the best wares American fashion designers have to offer.  You get to live rent free in a big house for at least four years, and have an entire staff of people ready and willing to do your bidding.  Depending on your political affiliation, Oprah and the rest of her ilk will sop you up with a biscuit.  What a life.

I can only imagine, though, that the role of First Lady comes with more than a few setbacks.  Media scrutiny is no picnic, I’m sure – you’re judged on everything from your primary causes to your hairstyle.  And imagine the family dinner table.  “How was your day, dear?”  is a loaded question.  The First Lady must brace herself for the response.  At times the President might regale her with stories of intrigue, high tension, and suspense.  Other times it may be all she can do to keep her head from falling into the mashed potatoes due to total boredom.

First Ladies have always fascinated me.  They didn’t sign on for the job, yet we expect them to step up and serve in some capacity.  Nancy Reagan encouraged us to say no to drugs, Hilary Clinton had health care, and now Michelle Obama is force-feeding our children healthy school lunches and encouraging us all to get into shape.  Noble intentions, but how effective are they?

Thirty years later, people still use drugs.

I won’t go into health care.

Students report that their lunches are awful.  They did that before the revised menu.  Heck, awful school lunches have been a staple ever since the idea of school lunches was conceived.

I think part of my problem with politics today is that the highest office held in our country has become a bit too pedestrian for my liking.  I don’t recall Gerald Ford swapping stories with Johnny Carson on late night TV.  Mary Todd Lincoln never graced the covers of any fashion magazine.  If you have any documentation that George Washington sat down and had a beer with a Regular Joe who disagreed with him, I’d like to see it.  There’s no mystique to it anymore, and I simply can’t take it seriously.  This isn’t necessarily a jab at our current administration.  I recall flinching when I saw Bill Clinton play saxophone on The Arsenio Hall Show back in the early 90s.  I was 22-years-old, and had only been eligible to vote in one election up to that point.  Call me old fashioned or a stick-in-the-mud, I just didn’t think it was appropriate.

Nor do I think it appropriate for our First Ladies to draw a paycheck, particularly when we have so many in the country struggling to make ends meet. 

Perhaps I’m guilty of waxing nostalgic, but there just seemed to be more glamour, elegance, and a sense of true service coming out of Washington once upon a time.   Washington isn’t the only guilty party.  We can point fingers at Hollywood, too.  Yet perhaps we as citizens should shoulder the blame, for we’re the ones allowing it to happen. We’ve dumbed everything down to such a sad degree, so why should we hold our elected officials and their families to a higher standard?

Because it’s the thing to do.  Perhaps if we did, we’d see some pretty remarkable results.

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