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  1. #1
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Abolish the Office of the First Lady

    Abolish the Office of the First Lady

    By Jack Shafer
    November 22, 2016

    Melania Trump has done the nation a great service by deciding to maintain Trump Tower as her full-time residence and not to move to the White House any time soon. But her resistance shouldn’t stop there. Now is as good a time as any to eliminate the ceremonial office of the “first lady,” that abhorrent honorific we apply to the president’s wife, and encourage the first spouse to live like an ordinary citizen. All we need is for Melania to agree.

    Yes, defund the ridiculously large staff that currently earns upward of $1.5 million a year serving Michelle Obama; abolish the federally funded bully pulpit from which the presidential spouses have historically advocated for healthy eating, literacy, child welfare, anti-drug programs, mental health issues and beautification of highways. The president’s spouse isn’t a specimen of American royalty. By giving her a federal budget and nonstop press coverage, we endorse a pernicious kind of neo-nepotism that says, pay special attention to the person not because she’s earned it or is inherently worthy of our notice but because of who she’s related to by marriage.

    The hairstyles, fashion choices, vacation destinations and pet projects of the president’s spouse are newsworthy only to the mentally vacant. Other democracies, such as the United Kingdom, bestow no such honors upon the spouses of their leaders and are better for it. To use an au courant phrase, the office of the first spouse is a swamp in need of draining. Won’t somebody please dispatch a dredger to the East Wing?

    My beef isn’t against Melania Trump, the next first spouse, who seems to be a poised, harmless individual. I actually started composing this column in my head when the election of Hillary Clinton seemed inevitable. We already give mega-millionaire Bill Clinton a huge payout to run and staff his office under the federal Former Presidents Act. He’s collected in excess of $16 million since 2001. Why, I thought, give him additional funding and staff as first spouse?

    Obviously, first spouses have provided valuable advice for presidents over the centuries. Early first spouses edited and wrote speeches for the chief executive, campaigned for them, chaired government task forces and sold their political initiatives. Abigail Adams monitored public opinion for her husband. Millard Fillmore depended on his wife’s counsel. Mary Lincoln placed obstacles in front of people whom she disliked and wanted a place in her husband’s Cabinet.

    Some contemporary presidential spouses have led active, involved political lives, providing more than a sounding board. Woodrow Wilson’s second wife, Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, served as a sort of shadow president when her husband was diminished by a stroke. (Critics called her administration the “petticoat government.”) Eleanor Roosevelt published books, magazine articles and newspapers advocating positions that routinely outwinged her husband, especially on civil rights. She testified before Congress. She had a regular radio program. She gave regular news conferences. She toured the country in support of migrant workers. Hillary Clinton actually worked on health policy for her husband, to great failure.

    But does any of this work require a staff of 15 or more? The spouses of senators and corporate chiefs provide advice and speechwriting help for their husbands and we don’t give them a budget or lavish them with attention. What’s so special about the first spouse that we should give them $1.5 million in mad money to serve as hostess and confidante, White House remodeling consultant, supervisor of china?

    Even when it comes to the serious political work, Roosevelt did what she did with a staff of two and probably could have done without. If the first spouses’ causes are so admirable, the president should propose them and get the government to fund them via official channels instead of building a publicity machine for his spouse to advance them.

    Certainly, there are worse government excesses, but I can’t think of one. According to a 2011 PolitiFact piece, Michelle Obama has a staff of about 25, roughly the same size as Laura Bush’s. Hillary Clinton’s staff oscillated between 13 and 19. Nancy Reagan had about 15 people working for her, and one account puts Rosalynn Carter’s staff at about 21, so it’s not as if the office is fattening like an unkillable federal program. The real problem with the office of the first spouse isn’t that it’s large but that it exists at all. Nobody elected the first spouse. The voters owe her no more than they do the children, siblings and uncles of the president.

    If the first spouse wants a forum for her views, there are ample nonofficial places for expression. As far as I’m concerned, she can write books and columns, speak at events and even run for office. I’m not even opposed to the first spouse volunteering at hospitals or raising funds for humanitarian organizations. Or she can do like Jill Biden did, and find a job and work. Or she can embrace leisure during her White House years. One reason to pull for Howard Dean for president in 2004 was that his wife, Dr. Judith Steinberg Dean, appeared to have little interest in playing queen to his king should he have won. According to reports, she planned on remaining in Burlington, Vermont, so she could continue to see her patients.

    The office of the first spouse is a rancid barrel of presidential pork that has outlived its usefulness. Melania Trump would do us all a great service if she told her husband she had better plans for the next four years—resuming her modeling career or raising her son, Barron, for example—than hectoring us about the menace of cyberbullying, her self-choice topic or serving a ceremonial function at media events.

    Abolish the office of the first spouse! Free Melania Trump!

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/sto...st-lady-214471
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Interesting. I was thinking the same thing. But then when I thought about it some more, there are all types of protocols and procedures and customs, correspondence, speeches, invitations and so forth, that I think it needs further investigation than what we have from this article. 15 people sounds like a lot, but maybe there is a lot more involved than we are aware of. I'm all for stopping the "projects". We've got enough people prattling on about the types of issues First Ladies get involved with, when the real issues are being ignored by their husbands and the rest of government. Donald J Trump is going to change all that because we finally have a President who is representing US. So I guess now is not the time to leave Melania without any helpers, assistants, advisers or travel and supply expenses.
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  3. #3
    Moderator Beezer's Avatar
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    The only thing the First Lady should do is graciously receive guests and, if she chooses...get involved in Charity.

    We did NOT hire Obama's wife to fly around the World on OUR dime, taking her entire family and friends, mouthing off her opinion, and giving OUR money away. Nor did we hire her to change our school lunches or fly around giving speeches!

    We elected the President...not his wife to get involved in our Politics.

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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Protecting Donald Trump costs New York City more than $1 million a day

    CNNMoney‎- 2 days ago

    Protecting President-elect Donald Trump and his family is costing New York City more than ...
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    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    How much did it cost Chicago to protect Obama?

    How much did it cost Texas to protect GW Bush?
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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Judy View Post
    How much did it cost Chicago to protect Obama?

    How much did it cost Texas to protect GW Bush?

    President Barack Obama's Chicago home: City spends at least $2.2 million to protect it

    Whether the federal government will fully repay Chicago is in question

    July 21, 2009|By Annie Sweeney, Tribune reporter and Tribune reporters Dan P. Blake in Chicago and Peter Nicholas in Washington contributed to this report.

    The Chicago Police Department has spent at least $2.2 million to secure President Barack Obama's Kenwood residence since he was elected in November, according to documents released Monday by the city.

    The department will be reimbursed by the federal government for more than $1.5 million of those costs. But the expense of protecting the president's home since his January inauguration -- nearly $650,000 through the end of April -- is not currently scheduled to be paid back, according to the city's response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Tribune.




    "There is no reimbursement mechanism currently in place for this [post-inauguration] money," the city's Office of Legal Affairs said in the written response.

    The security expense comes at a time when the city's general budget woes have meant that hiring in the Police Department has slowed and command staff officers are taking unpaid days off. Mayoral spokeswoman Jacquelyn Heard said she believed the money would be repaid.


    Heard declined to go into specifics on the costs of Obama's security "for obvious reasons," but said, "We've been assured that the federal government will fully reimburse us for all costs associated with protecting President Obama in Chicago."


    Darrin Blackford, U.S. Secret Service spokesman, said it is "not equipped or funded" to provide reimbursement. "We rely heavily on the assistance we receive from our law-enforcement partners."


    According to the city, the cost to secure Obama's home between Nov. 5, 2008, and Jan. 18 was more than $1.5 million -- most of which the city "expects" to be reimbursed because of his status as president-elect.


    Police Department spokesman Roderick Drew said the department spent the money to pay officers overtime to secure only the Obama residence, but he could not go into detail about how many officers were assigned to the house.


    When asked about additional costs at the Obama home since April, Drew said he could not comment.

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2...ome-obama-home

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  7. #7
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Judy View Post
    How much did it cost Chicago to protect Obama?

    How much did it cost Texas to protect GW Bush?
    Price to Protect Bush's House: $1 Million a Year, Maybe | NBC4 ...

    www.nbcwashington.com/.../Bushs-New-House-Needs-1-Million-for-Crowd-Control....
    Jul 29,
    2009 - Price to Protect Bush's House: $1 Million a Year, Maybe ... Police said the department and the Secret Service will work out the details in the ...
    NO AMNESTY

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