Love and Presidents: The Difference Between Michelle and Ann : The New Yorker, by Amy Davidson. It’s fascinating.
Here’s all I can say with certainty: a candidate’s wife has a tough job to do. She’s got to try to be relatable, while talking up her husband, who by definition has the intelligence, ambition, and ego to want to run the free world. How many of us likely voters out there have a partner like that? How many of us likely voters with a partner could do that job?
Both of these women are undoubtedly excellent wives, excellent mothers, and make excellent First Ladies (one of a nation, one of a Commonwealth). They are proud of their husbands, they are thrilled to raise children with their husbands, they want you to love their husbands as much as they love them. And vote.
They are political wives.
The life Mrs. Obama described sounded familiar to me. Growing up and seeing a parent, in pain but working hard, with pride. Marrying a man who wants more for his community, and from a pretty early age, went out and got it. (Did I mention my spouse was a Peace Corps volunteer?) Putting your career on hold so that you could raise the children while your husband pursued a tremendously demanding career. A 40-year-old friend of mine posted on facebook, “When I grow up I want to be Michelle Obama.” Our current First Lady? She connects.
Mrs. Romney and I both have had the good fortune of not needing to work outside the home. Given the cost of college educations for our children and the amount of savings necessary for even a modest retirement, I, however, will need return to work. But for all her talk of success, Mrs. Romney didn’t convey herself as an aspirational role model. Specifically because I don’t know how one aspires to be well-born and marry well. Massachusetts’ former First Lady? She seems like a very nice lady.
I’ve said that being a corporate wife means I’m lucky, and it means I wait. Perhaps that applies to political wives, too.
These two women are both very lucky–lucky to have strong marriages and enviable love for and from their husbands. But Mrs. Obama didn’t start out lucky. Mrs. Romney did.
I imagine Mrs. Romney can wait a little longer.