Barack Obama has campaigned on equal-pay issues going all the way back to 2007, so it’s no big surprise to hear him still campaigning on it in 2012. He regularly cites the Lily Ledbetter Act as one of his big achievements as President, fighting for equal pay for women, although the merits of a bill that allows for more retroactive lawsuits is certainly debatable. However, it seems that Obama has a new crusade — equal pay for … First Ladies:
And let me say this. When I talk about women’s issues, I’m talking about the experiences that I’ve seen in my own life. Everybody knows Michelle. (Applause.) The fact that we are partners in this process, this journey of life, has been my source of strength. And I want to make sure that she has control over her health care choices. I want to make sure that when she’s working, she is getting paid the same as men. I’ve got to say, First Ladies right now don’t — (laughter) — even though that’s a tough job.
Well, actually, it isn’t a job. There is no “job” called Presidential Spouse, just as there is no “job” called Presidential Child. Is life difficult for presidential spouses and children? In many ways, yes. And in many ways, no. Few people get to live in an elaborate mansion with household and kitchen staff on duty all hours of the day and night, for instance, paid by taxpayers for their comfort. Few other spouses get the kind of political/cultural platforms that First Ladies do, either. As this First Family has discovered, the vacation venues and covered travel expenses are usually a bit better than the hoi polloi experience, too.
But First Ladies don’t get paid because Presidential Spouse isn’t a government position; it’s a circumstance of being married to the President … who, by the way, gets $400,000 a year in salary, a hefty pension even after just a single term that includes the kind of Cadillac-plan health care that Obama himself decried in the private sector, and
lifetime a decade of free personal security. If that’s not enough, then perhaps the Obamas should take this opportunity to retire so that Mrs. Obama can go back to work in the private sector.
By the way, there’s nothing that legally prevents a First Lady from having a job of her own, or a First Dude if those circumstances arise. It would be impractical for a number of reasons, not the least of which are issues of conflicts of interest and security. But it has been done, albeit for a very brief time: Hillary Clinton formally entered the Senate more than two weeks before her husband stopped being the President in January 2001.
Update: I had forgotten that the President could lead on this issue very easily — by paying women equally in his own White House. So far, Obama is all talk.
Update II: Secret Service protection for former Presidents and their families was curtailed to 10 years; I’ve corrected that above.
It’s time once again to show our support for Day By Day and its artist-publisher, Chris Muir. Chris holds an annual fundraiser to keep the adventures of Sam, Zed, Jan, and Damon coming. Chris, whose artwork has enhanced the OOTD feature since its inception for Hot Air readers, uses the funds raised for only the continuance of DBD. As always, the fundraiser has many fabulous gifts available at whatever level one chooses to donate. If you’re thinking about donating at the Jan/Damon level or above, you’ll get a Last Supper Red vs Blue magnet, which has depictions of personalities from New Media — myself included. Donating at the Anatoly Level will get you a 9×15 print of the artwork. Dig deep and be part of supporting the one of the best New Media cartoonists in the biz!
Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.