Monday, August 24, 2009

They're Just Plain Folks, Those Obamas

We heard endlessly during the Presidential campaign how Republicans in general and the Bushes in particular were rich elitists who didn't care about the little guy. At the same time, the Obamas touted their education but made much of their own humble beginnings and simple ways. They identify with the common man, and have none of those elitist trappings so evident among Republicans.

So let's take a quick look at the First Mommy and Plain Jane homemaker who is Michelle Obama. She is indeed just like us ordinary folks, if by ordinary you mean the Astors. It took the Canadian press to give us a peek at simply ordinary Michelle's simple life. Somehow, the mainstream media in the United States really believe the propaganda, so they repeat it. Nothing extraordinary about how the First "Lady" lives.

When in her cozy little cottage called the White House, she has more than twenty personal attendants. When she travels, she takes as many of them as she can fit on the jumbo jet with her. In her own words she told the nation: "In my own life, in my own small way, I have tried to give back to this country that has given me so much." She calls it "giving back." To me, it looks more like "getting even, and then some." If I recall, this is also the woman who said that she was proud of this country for the very first time when her husband finagled his way to the Democratic nomination for President of the common folks. "See, that's why I left a job at a big law firm for a career in public service." Really? I thought she left the law firm to take a $300,000 per year job as a hospital administrator. A job for which she had no credentials or experience, and which paid barely $50,000 before her pals in Chicago set the position up for her.

Forget Mamie Eisenhower's hats from Woolworth's. Forget Patricia Nixon's "respectable Republican cloth coat." Forget independently-wealthy Laura Bush's moderate ways. Forget Nancy Reagan's seven assistants (not counting the astrologer). This First Lady is far too important to have less than twenty assistants, all of whom work for Simple Sarah on the taxpayers' money. Michelle Obama does not receive a salary for being the wife of the Crook-in-Chief, so she did indeed give up that juicy public service job at the hospital. But how big a salary do you need when you can get the rubes to pay for twenty-plus assistants to do everything short of going to the bathroom for you?

Here are a few of the titles and salaries of the modest assistants the moderate First Lady has working for her. Her Chief of Staff, Susan Sher, with no prior experience in government or protocol (obviously) earns a base salary of $172,200 per year. The next highest earner gets her high salary based on the lengthiness of her title. She is Jocelyn C. Frye, who is (get this) Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Policy and Projects for the First Lady. One is tempted to ask "what policies and projects have the American people or the Constitution authorized a First Lady to have?"

Next in line is Camille Y. Johnston, who earns $102,000 per year as Special Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the First Lady. Abigail Adams wrote her own correspondence at no charge to the public. But Abigail could actually spell and form coherent sentences, so I guess we shouldn't begrudge Michelle having someone to make her look a bit less unintelligent. Melissa E. Winter earns $95,000 as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff to the First Lady. David Medina gets a mere $90,000 per year because unlike those illustrious ladies listed, he is only Deputy Chief of Staff to the First Lady and apparently doesn't assist the President at all.

Catherine M. Lelyveld gets $84,000 as Director and Press Secretary to the First Lady. Correct me if I'm wrong, but since the First Lady is not even a real official title, and her job is to be the President's wife, why does she need a press secretary at all? A poverty-level salary of $75,000 goes to Frances M. Starkey, Director of Scheduling and Advance for the First Lady. Well, everybody needs somebody to warm up the crowd, right? The list goes on from as low as $36,000 per year for Sally M. Armbruster (as opposed to Michelle the Arm Buster), who is Staff Assistant to the Social Secretary, up to $70,000 for Trooper Sanders, Deputy Director of Policy and Projects for the First Lady. Michelle seems to have an awful lot of policies and projects to need so much help. But I'm starting to get carpal tunnel syndrome from typing all those humble titles and poverty-level salaries.

The mother's little helpers add up to $1,216,200 just for the major list, and does not include Personal Makeup Artist Ingrid Grimes or First Hairstylist Johnny Wright, both of whom travel with Michelle at all times, and a few other executive director assistant manager co-partner whatevers. The humility and simple life of poor Michelle simply astounds me. Now I understand how she relates so well to the little folks struggling to put food on the table and clothes on their kids' backs. She is definitely someone who can relate well to the wives of unemployed and underemployed men everywhere.

A song from the last Great Depression should explain it all.

"She may be weary,
Women do get weary
Wearing the same shabby dress.
And when she's weary,
Try a little tenderness."

Oh, and along with that, twenty or thirty helpers and a million dollars in salaries, more or less. Fellow ordinary guys, if your wife is depressed, this will cheer her right up.


StanH said...

“It’s good to be king/queen.” God knows Lawhawk the suffering this woman has had to endure – one needs, what one needs, and if twenty is not enough I guess we should be glad it’s not forty. You can bet these two are taking pages from Hillary and Bill, just think Michele running for President in a few years, what a treat, right.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I'm not sure how many staffers Laura Bush or Hillary had or if this is a new thing. But in any event, I don't see why the First Lady needs this many staffers. This sounds very much like they are creating royalty.

Writer X said...

Let them eat cake!

Slightly off topic but our local newspaper ran a story yesterday about how cool it was that Michele wore shorts to the Grand Canyon. "We've seen her arms; now we can see her legs!" they reported gleefully. I almost vomitted. Is it any wonder that THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC has about 12 subscribers in the fifth largest U.S. city?

President Obama was so intent on finding waste in the government; he need look no further than the White House.

ScottDS said...

Assistants and make-up people are fine but do you think they can use a home theater guy? :-)

Considering President Obama and Co. gave Gordon Brown some DVDs that were coded for the wrong region (region 1 for the US instead of region 2 for the UK), it would appear they need some kind of geek in residence.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, Let them eat lobster! They seem to be desperate to make her into a fashion icon. Sad.

Scott, They could use all kinds of help and I'm sure a techno-geek would be right at the top of the list.

Tennessee Jed said...

Hawk - an interesting post. There is nothing plain about the Obama's and I'm not really certain they are actually folks. A few thoughts:

1) I want to be fair, so to what extent is there a protocol on what a first lady gets in the way of staff, either by law or by custom? It sounds like she has gone far beyond recent predecessors, but didn't wish to incorrectly assume facts not in evidence.

2) It strikes me that Democrat first ladies tend to be given credit for having style and grace, never Republicans. The infantile m.s.m was laughable trying to make Michelle into Jackie Kennedy.

3) I suspect Democrats in general, the Obama's and those that revel in the race card as a political weapon do not really want equality; rather, they want "pay-back." They want to behave like the rich and powerful coroporate leaders they used to condemn. Hence the desire to spend lavishly.

Unknown said...

StanH: If Michelle is attempting to do her own version of "the People's Princess," it ain't working.

Andrew: I think that First Lady Carter was the last to have fewer than 10 assistants of some sort. And nobody is going to be begrudge the wife of the President some help with her unofficial duties. But for someone who claims to identify with the masses, Obama has taken this movie star treatment to all new levels. Come to think of it, a lot like movie stars, she talks about her love for the poor, and proceeds to live like Midas.

Unknown said...

WriterX: I have it on reliable authority that the reason Michelle had to wear shorts is that Barack had borrowed her jeans that day.

ScottDS: Unless you're from the South Side of Chicago or a have long record of failing to pay your taxes, you don't qualify for the job. Competence is not a job requirement for the Obamacrats.

ScottDS said...

LawHawk - I've never been to Chicago and I've always paid my taxes... oh well, I tried. :-D

Unknown said...

Tennessee: There is no formal budget specifically set aside for the First Lady. Those are all Presidential contingency funds. Jackie Kennedy became a news item for her spending on refurnishing the White House and purchasing art. But at least she spent it on a public project rather than on herself. Michelle Obama has managed to spend over a million dollars solely for the purpose of enhancing her own personal image. Big difference.

I don't see the Obamas' behavior in racial terms (that's their political schtick). I think this a function of that movie star syndrome I was talking about. People of no particular accomplishment or intelligence artificially enhancing their credentials and personal image out of envy of those who have those qualities. Envy rather than race is the motivating factor. I think the ancient wisdom still applies--you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

Joel Farnham said...

Dumb Question. If Michelle dies, who is in line for the first lady's position? Is it Susan Sher? Or are they all in line?

Unknown said...

ScottDS: Maybe I can get you a phony Cook County (Chicago) birth certificate. The clerks at the Bureau of Vital statistics are probably as easy to bribe as the cops. I have this horrible feeling that there's something in the Chicago drinking water that gets into the body tissues and causes all this. My family moved from Chicago to Los Angeles when I was quite young. And yet the California Franchise Tax Board discovered I had failed to report some "other" income in 2005 and 2006. But at least that means I'm now qualified to work in the Department of Justice, right?

JoelFarnham: Beats me. They'll probably have to call a special session of Congress and conduct committee hearings to decide who officially replaces the unofficial First Lady in order of succession.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I don't know exactly what the law provides, but in the past, the President actually named a first lady -- because some of the early Presidents weren't married. I supposed Obama could name a cousin or something like that.

Unknown said...

Andrew: There are a whole lot of people who tend to think that the title of First Lady is a political or Constitutional entity. In fact, it was never meant to be anything more than "first hostess." Martha Washington finally settled on Lady Washington. The common wisdom is that Dolley Madison was the first to actually be called the First Lady, but it didn't become common parlance until just before the Civil War.

Woodrow Wilson's second wife took the title a bit too seriously, and history seems to confirm that after Wilson became mentally incompetent as the result of a massive stroke, she was actually making the Presidential decisions and passing them on to the cabinet as if Wilson himself were making those decisions. Eleanor Roosevelt was probably the first fully public activist First Lady, but many before her had a few things to say now and then.

But nothing that any of them say or do, including Michelle, has any official status of any kind whatsoever. If we ever get a bachelor President who doesn't want a "helpmate," there simply won't be a First Lady.

What's more interesting is considering whether there will be a First Gentleman when a woman is elected President.

Joel Farnham said...

I have an Idea, in case Michelle dies. Cage match. Place Pelosi, Hillary, Franks, you know all the women of this Current administration and Congress and let them fight it out.

Unknown said...

JoelFarnham: With those two other battle-axes, Franks doesn't stand a chance.

MegaTroll said...

Lawhawk, Thanks for pointing this out. I don't hear anyone else talking about this except for Rush. Keep up the great work!

Joel Farnham said...

LawHawk, I never said it would be fair.

Unknown said...

MegaTroll: Thanks for letting me know I'm in good company. As much of an admirer of Rush Limbaugh as I am, I haven't actually followed his broadcasts since he closed down his TV show years ago. I do hear that he is considering reactivating his TV appearances, and that's good news. I occasionally disagree with him on fine points, but he is a nearly irreplaceable asset to the conservative message. I must have at least four radio/DVD/VHS/amplifier combos in the house, but I haven't turned on a radio since our last blackout (and Gray Davis was still governor).

JoelFarnham: Poor Bawney. Drawing-and-quartering would be preferable to getting into the ring with Hill and Nan.

Skinners 2 Cents said...

Nothing about this family is real. It's all an illusion, the disappointment with America everything is a shame.

What do the Obama's have in common with the commoners they are so trying to raise up? They understand what about them? They are not part of the great unwashed of American society. They are both wealthy.

If anything they are a terrible example of what's wrong with our society and the corruption at all levels.

Is there a limit on how much of the American taxpayers money they can spend on servants. Never mind they spend in the trillions and not to many pay attention, what's a couple million?

Unknown said...

Skinners2Cents: There is no limit on how much they can spend on servants as long as Congress keeps providing it. And if Congress provides it, these two will continue to spend it. The only thing the Obamas share with the common American is the word "common." Only in the case of the Obamas, it carries an older, more derogatory meaning, as in "less than noble" or "less than righteous."

Post a Comment