I'm fascinated by the enormous importance that spouses play in political campaigns. Why should Michelle Obama get a front page story in the Times?
I suppose that spouses do influence each other's jobs. Steve and I compare notes and strategies. If one of us has a deadline, the other has to leave work early. Perhaps spouses should be vetted before we elected anyone to that level of office.
But that's not why we're getting so much attention to first spouses. Spouses are a means of balancing out a candidate. It's good politics for a presidential candidate from the North to nominate a vice-presidential candidate from the South. Now, we have a first lady to widen the appeal of her husband.
It's funny, but I think that the women have an advantage over the guys in this department. Bill Clinton is being portrayed as Hillary's technical advisor. Great. Wonky Hillary has a wonky husband. Michelle Obama is portrayed as Barack's earthy, multi-tasking, reality-check. I think we need some pictures of Bill carpooling and making cookies.
So what does Michelle bring to the Obama campaign? Chick appeal. She scoffs at her husband for his lack of prowess in the kitchen. Like all red-blooded American women, she isn't afraid to publiclly mock her husband. This made Maureen Dowd uncomfortable a few weeks ago, but I think that irreverance plays really well with married women. Michelle is also vocal about the difficulties about juggling work and family, and provides details about life at home. Also, plays well with the chicks. And unlike her husband, she relates well with the African-American community.
Michelle's balancing more that work and family. She's balancing out her husband's ticket.
UPDATE: Nice video.