I've always been haunted and perplexed by the role of the American First Lady. After all, she's historically been there to demonstate the good character and loyalty of her husband, who is, by virtue of being married to her, a man of integrity, commitment and loyalty. But not unlike playing Echo to mythology's Narcissus, the President's wife is not really a person in her own right as profiled by the media; or is she?
First Lady consciousness trickled down to me as a child through stories of Jackie O. who, famously, outdid her husband's movie-star good looks and charming demeanor with perfect graciousness, style and excellent French. It was legendary. But, as a young woman, her role and profile still struck me as, well, sort of concubine-ish; sort of, airline-hostessy. Smiling as she asked us to place our carry-ons in the overhead bin, Jackie O. even grieved with grace, and never mind all the other women and affairs her husband indulged in, her service was impeccable.
Still later I was torn between being horrified and grateful for Hilary Clinton's lack of
martyrdom as the potential impeachment of her husband due to inappropriate filandering unfolded in a humiliating public display. Hilary - what is there to say about Hilary that hasn't been written about for years now? She is an anomaly and an enigma; a county gal standin' by her man and a political player making moves as subtle and manipulative as Cleopatra. At once a victim and victorious, we are hard pressed to find a category for her.
But I suppose what really confuses me is the cause factor. For when a First Lady takes on a cause, its characterization as being almost adorable smacks of little girls, tea parties and easy-bake ovens; there is a feeling of playing pretend, dress-up, running with the grown-ups and trying to do grown-up things (Hilary's health care reform, Laura's literacy, Michele's muscles) - look at how sweet it is that they're trying!