Is Being First Lady a Job?


Between giving luncheon speeches, overseeing a single, carefully selected domestic policy issue, and caring for children whose father is super busy running the country, being first lady of the United States is a round-the-clock commitment. Should they be paid for it? Former First Lady Laura Bush says no. The perks are more than enough, she said in an interview for C-SPAN’s First Lady series. “The interesting question is not should they receive a salary, but should they be able to work for a salary at their job that they may have already had,” she added.

After all, Bush’s proposed, dual-breadwinner First Couple worked in France, where Paris Match reporter and, until recently, presidential girlfriend Valerie Trierweiler asked to be called the First Journalist. Maybe more important, she notes, it’s hard to imagine a male presidential spouse that would give up his career in order to assume the ceremonial duties of first gentleman.

Speaking of first gentlemen: When we do get around to electing one, Bush asks that we avenge the disproportionate attention paid to first ladies’ appearances. “Maybe when we finally have a first gentleman, and maybe we should ... really critique the way they look all the time, their choice of tie or their hairstyle or whatever,” she said. “Or maybe their weight.” Sign us up! Unless the first female president abolishes the antiquated office first.