Throughout American history, the role of the First Lady has been largely her own to define. Some, like Hilary Clinton, have chosen to tackle issues both nationally and abroad with the same level of diplomacy as the commander –in-chief; others took a more supportive position within the walls of the White House. Washington Post writer Kathleen Parker penned a spirited defense of First Lady Michelle Obama over the weekend, sketching the path she has taken during her first term.
As Parker writes, the current first lady has taken a path between the two extremes, opting to focus on goals that affect the individual, more than a greater political picture. “Policies that support families aren’t political issues. They’re personal. They’re the causes I carry with me every single day,” Michelle Obama’s biography on the National First Ladies’ Library website reads.
Mrs. Obama has launched a number of initiatives targeted at improving American families, perhaps the most popular being “Let’s Move.” As part of the Presidential Delegation to the 2012 Olympics, she hosted a gathering bringing both American and British children together to celebrate healthy eating, exercise and active lifestyles. Joining Forces is an initiative launched by Obama alongside Dr. Jill Biden, the wife of the vice president, in support of military families. The program helps provide employment and affordable education for both active military personal and veterans, and their children.
Though these are worthy causes no doubt, some would argue that Obama should use her Harvard degree for causes that aren’t so “domestic.”
“Others are critical of Michelle Obama’s choice to focus on uber-domestic issues rather than directing her intellect and education on ‘more important’ issues,” Parker writes. “Begging to differ, there is nothing more important than food — how we raise it, how we distribute it, and how we consume it. At a time of rampant obesity, especially among children, nutrition should be a national priority.”
“It is a brave stance by a wise woman whose priorities deserve to be celebrated,” Parker continues. “There will be plenty of time for career and Big Issues beyond the family table once the children are grown—a lesson best learned sooner than too late.”
Clinton of course parlayed her high diplomatic status into a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, and now serves as the Secretary of State. However, Obama’s approach to personal issues could offer more to the lives of individual Americans. No doubt many will get more out of Obama’s new cookbook “American Grown” than they would a powerful speech on the economic tension in the SEAR.
Barbara Bush may have put it best during her own term in the White House: “The First Lady is going to be criticized no matter what she does. If she does too little. If she does too much. And I think you just have to be yourself and do the best you can. And so what? T