Tag Archives: first ladies

Customs thrown aside

Presidential custom is a big part of the nation’s highest office, particularly when the occupants of that office depart.

One of those customs is to see former POTUSes lock arms for common causes. Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama recently did a public service announcement seeking to rally the nation against the COVID pandemic. I saw the ad and wondered — get ready for it — where was Donald Trump? I mean, the pandemic exploded on Trump’s watch!

We see these kinds of dramas play out from time to time.

The same can be said of former first ladies. Michelle Obama and Laura Bush have shared the spotlight to talk about their time in the White House. Melania Trump? She, too, has been absent from any sort of public appearances with her colleagues.

Donald Trump left office an angry and bitter individual. His animus toward President Biden remains visceral. Same for how he explodes at the mention of Barack Obama’s name, or George W. Bush, or Bill Clinton.

We once boasted in this country about how presidencies transfer from one to another, across party lines, and without rancor. We once referred to the “seamless transition of power.” It wasn’t that way when Donald Trump lost to Joe Biden in 2020. We are still feeling the pain of that horrible hand-off from one administration to the next one.

Along the way, we are watching feel-good presidential customs torn apart. What an utter shame.


Wondering how FLOTUS deals with POTUS’s bullying

If only I could slip into first lady Melania Trump’s skull, even for just a moment, I think I could learn a thing or two about what she really thinks of life with the president of the United States.

The first lady announced her initiative some time ago to crack down on cyberbullying, which has a terrible effect on our nation’s younger generation. It’s a noble cause. It is worthy of the kind of thing that first ladies take on as issues they want to promote during their time in the White House.

However, Melania Trump has been pretty quiet about that initiative. Why do you suppose that’s the case? Oh, wait! It’s probably because her husband keeps up the Twitter tirades, the cyber rants, the outright “bullying” of his political opponents.

Which brings me to the point I made on this blog, along with others around the world, when Melania Trump first announced her initiative: You need to take care of business at home, Mrs. Trump!

Were I to eavesdrop on the Trumps, I am likely to hear the first lady castigate her husband for making her look like a fool. That, of course, presumes she is able to talk frankly and candidly with her husband, the self-proclaimed “stable genius” and the smartest man in human history.

Well, the more I think about it, the more I am inclined to think that she doesn’t have that capability within the residence of the White House. It’s likely a pretty good bet that Donald Trump rules the roost at home much as he tries to rule the West Wing.

The president’s incessant, relentless bullying of foes sets a terrible example for his wife to follow as she seeks to end the bullying scourge among our nation’s children.

Does any of that matter to the Bully in Chief? I’ll give you three guesses … and the first two don’t count.

First ladies speak out; pay attention, Mr. POTUS

When do you recall this ever happening?

Five women who share a common bond have spoken out in virtual unison demanding that the presidential administration end a policy that has ignited a national firestorm over the way it treats families.

I say “virtual unison” because one of those women — first lady Melania Trump — finds herself in the most awkward of spots. Her husband, Donald John Trump, is responsible for enacting the policy of yanking children from their parents as they enter the United States.

Mrs. Trump has called on “both sides” to find a solution to the crisis. I’ll get back to her in a moment.

The four former first ladies — Michelle Obama, Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton and Rosalynn Carter — have spoken out separately, but are saying essentially the same thing: The policy must end!

Laura Bush calls the policy “immoral” and said it “breaks my heart” to see these children — many of them infants and toddlers — wrested from their parents’ custody and taken to virtual cages, where they are kept while immigration authorities sort out how to deal with their illegal entry into the United States.

As for the current first lady, I recognize that she is hamstrung by the fact that she’s married to the man at the center of all this madness.

I cannot know this as fact, but I only can imagine how the president might have reacted when he learned of the statement that came from his wife’s office about her desire to see this policy ended.

The “both sides” element of Melania Trump’s statement suggests to me that it disguises her actual belief that the policy is wrong on its face and it needs to change … immediately, if not sooner.

Sadly, the president isn’t inclined to heed anyone’s advice, let alone from his wife.

Stay away, Mr. President

Donald J. Trump will get criticized if he doesn’t attend former first lady Barbara Bush’s funeral.

He’ll get criticized if he shows up in Houston this weekend.

For what it’s worth — and it’s not much, I’ll concede — I want to counsel the president to stay away.

Look at it this way: Mrs. Bush made no bones about her dislike and disgust at Trump. She didn’t like the way he treated women. She damn sure didn’t like the way he treated her two sons — Jeb, who ran against Trump in the 2016 GOP presidential primary, and George W., who drew Trump’s ire over the Iraq War.

Trump has said the correct things about Mrs. Bush. I watched him read his statement and was struck yet again by the feeling in my gut that he didn’t really feel it.

First lady Melania Trump is going to attend, which is customary for first ladies; they usually attend funerals for their predecessors. Michelle Obama attended the funeral for Nancy Reagan, for example.

Donald Trump is facing a couple of difficult choices here. He need not accompany his wife to the funeral of a woman who couldn’t stand him.

He’s already spoken of Barbara Bush’s toughness. There you have it.

Stay away, Mr. President. Let the first lady represent the government.


Here is what I wrote about whether Barack Obama should have attended Mrs. Reagan’s funeral.

Should POTUS attend ex-FLOTUS’s funeral?

Now, about the new first lady …

With all this chatter and clatter about Russian hackers, conflicts of interest, White House nepotism and controversial Cabinet picks, I want to look briefly at an individual who stands near all this commotion.

Melania Trump, I’m waiting to hear more from you.

The incoming first lady put forward an interesting and provocative goal for her first ladyship: cyber bullying.

She made her statement, drawing some rather mixed responses across the land.

Why not start with your husband, Mrs. Trump, who campaigned as a primo cyber bully through his use of Twitter as an insult machine? Many of us thought and said as much in reaction to Melania’s initiative.

But there’s another reality to consider. She’s actually picked a legitimate and noble issue to pursue as first lady.

Young people are victimized by Internet bullies, she said. It must stop. We must educate our young people about how destructive such conduct can become and the consequences of bullying.

To that extent, I stand 100 percent in support of what Melania Trump wants to accomplish.

She’ll assume her place on the national stage on Jan. 20, when her husband takes the oath office to become the 45th president. It will be time for the new first lady to turn up the volume on her worthwhile effort on behalf of young people — around the world!

But … first things first. Tell your husband, Mrs. Trump, to knock off his ridiculous and potentially dangerous Twitter tirades.

What will be your agenda, Mr. Clinton?


Melania Trump has disclosed her signature first lady issue if she gets to move into the White House with her husband, Donald J. Trump.

It’s cyber-bullying. It’s a nice issue to concentrate on, although the irony of her focus on this issue has been lost on no one, given the GOP nominee’s abuse of social media.

That all said, what about Bill Clinton’s agenda as the nation’s first-ever “first gentleman”?

First, we’ll have to clear up how the media will report on the former president’s coming and going. Do they call him “former president Clinton” or do they refer to him as “first gentleman”? I’ve heard that when he and his wife are together, they will be introduced as President and Mr. Clinton.

What, though, will be the issue that occupies his time, enables him to speak out publicly on behalf of his wife’s administration?

First ladies all have identified themselves with signature issues: Michelle Obama — healthy eating and physical fitness; Laura Bush — education; Hillary Clinton — children’s welfare; Barbara Bush — family literacy; Nancy Reagan — drug abuse … and on and on it goes.

Hillary Clinton has indicated her husband will play a key role as an economic adviser. That’s a good call, given the economic vitality the nation enjoyed during the 42nd president’s two terms in office. That’s no “theme,” though, for the first spouse.

I will await — assuming Hillary wins the election Tuesday — word from the former president/first gentleman on how he intends to use the enormous public profile his new status will provide.

Should POTUS attend ex-FLOTUS’s funeral?


I’m beginning to hear some faint rumbles out there in Social Media Land about President Obama’s decision to forgo attending the funeral of Nancy Reagan.

Someone please tell me this is just “normal” cyberworld chatter. That it’s par for the Internet course. That the twitter-verse is full of too many people with too much time on their hands.

The former first lady died the other day at age 94. President Obama joined other dignitaries around the world in expressing their sympathy to Mrs. Reagan’s family. He said some nice things that paid tribute to her service to the country.

He ordered flags lowered to half-staff at the White House and other federal government buildings.

That should be sufficient, yes?

Ohhhh, no.

Some have said the president should attend the funeral. I have heard reports of some critics poking sticks at Obama because he’s going to a SXSW event in Texas that had been planned for weeks.

The president is sending his wife to Mrs. Reagan’s funeral. Indeed, it’s customary for sitting first ladies to pay their respects at funerals of their predecessors.

Some former presidents might attend the service at the Reagan Library later this week. Then again, perhaps it’ll just be their wives. We’ve got several first ladies still among us: Rosalyn Carter, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush all might attend the funeral.

Then again, Hillary Clinton also has a pretty full plate these days as she runs for president of the United States.

I’m sure the right-wing mainstream media would pounce on her absence if she spends that day campaigning for the office that Mrs. Reagan’s husband once occupied.

This is such a nasty, contentious time.


Perry in deep hole for 2016

Rick Perry needs to get his act together in a big hurry if he’s entertaining the idea of running for president once more in 2016.

The Republican Texas governor is lagging far behind former first lady/Sen./Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in a possible matchup for the next presidential election.


Clinton trounces Perry by significant double-digit margins, according to a McClatchy-Marist poll. The closest Republicans are New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who trail Clinton by 6 and 8 points, respectively, in the poll.

Perry’s poll standing? He falls 16 points behind Clinton.

I am well aware that this is early in the cycle for the next presidential campaign. Clinton hasn’t even declared her intentions, although the smart money says she’s going to run once she catches her breath from all the globetrotting she did as secretary of state. HRC set some kind of travel record for number of countries visited and miles flown during her four years as the nation’s top diplomat.

Were she to run, my hunch is that she’ll be virtually unstoppable. That is the calculation anyone who challenges her will have to make — especially if they cannot improve on double-digit polling deficits.