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Should Congress Ban Michelle Obama From Policy Work?

As first lady, Michelle Obama has brought the cameras and awareness to a variety of issues. She's promoted sustainable food, highlighted the work of nonprofits, and honored female vets.

Back in 1993 (when Hillary was mixing things up in the White House), a federal appeals court ruled that the first lady was functionally a government employee. That means she (or maybe someday he) could participate in policy debates like a member of the administration.

Now House Republicans are pushing for an amendment that would overturn that decision. The new rule would force Michelle Obama to do her policy work in public, because she would be considered an "outside advisory panel." Essentially, it would keep presidential spouses from working on policy issues within the administration.

Regardless of the legal mumbo jumbo, do you think it's right for the first lady to have a policy role?

Join The Conversation
stephley stephley 8 years
The Republican congressman who would change the rules for Michelle said last year that the federal government had done enough to help New York cope with "a fire" that "simply was an aircraft" hitting the World Trade Center - so maybe we should just consider the source on this one. ;)
bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 8 years
While I agree with the statment UnDave's statement regarding the fact that we aren't electing spouses. I always questions when people want to make "rule changes" this late in the game we have had two first ladies that lived under this policy and now Michelle is being put under extra scrutiny...why is this is my question?
MaggieLei MaggieLei 8 years
I don't think they are trying to prevent her from bringing awareness to issues. I think they are trying to prevent her from having any power other than the power of influence- which might be fair. She can run for Congress or President if she wants to. I see all marriages this way. When I discuss my husband's work with him, I influence his opinions. If he likes one of my ideas, he takes it to work and makes it happen. I don't go to work for him and do his job. That would be ridiculous. I realize the role of First Lady comes with more traditional, inherent responsibility- it might need to be redefined now that women have a more prominent societal role. Maybe she needs to have a "job" in the administration too. If that is the case, it needs to have a job description and not just be carte blanche. Ironically it has been Republican spouses who have disagreed with their husband's policies publicly- ala Barbara Bush and Nancy Reagan.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
Steph I had no idea what Mrs Bush did really ( i dont pay attention much to the first wives) If she did, and this came to my attention.I would say the same thing. Isista, who is sitting around while thier hubby the pres is doing his job? Every single first lady has been an effective busy woman. No one said anything about influencing policy, or telling this woman what she can think, I just dont like her being able to participate in government debates and being a functioning government employee.
Isista Isista 8 years
So let me get this straight: because Michelle wasn't specifically elected (although most intelligent minds would know that since she is the spouse of the President, she is going to have some opinions on policy issues) she can't have an opinion, or try to effect change herself? How many normal activists who aren't elected to any position try to influence policy changes every day? She should definitely have the right to try to influence policy work. She is an intelligent woman, trying to make a difference and not just sit around doing nothing while her husband is in the Presidency. I also agree with SKC - *this* is what Congress has to do?? This is seriously the most important issue they could be dealing with right now?? I think not. And everyone has the right to use their voice to affect change.
stephley stephley 8 years
So you would apply the law to Michelle CG? You know, Laura Bush said she dealt with policy - including gang issues - but that people assumed she didn't because of their preconceptions of her because of her librarian background.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
I agree with UD, we didnt elect michelle and she should have no power to argue policy at all.
SKC-Sparkle SKC-Sparkle 8 years
Are you telling me that Congress has nothing better to do than stop people from bringing awareness to issues? If you have a voice, use it for good - regardless of your position in society!
mommie mommie 8 years
Absolutely not, we need all the good minds we can get to solve our problems.
Modus-Vivendi Modus-Vivendi 8 years
She should pick a non controversial issue (like literacy, domestic violence...). The court decision back in the 90s making Hillary essentially equivalent to a Federal employee was ridiculous.
Grandpa Grandpa 8 years
hpno, which is why i have no problem having the president inviting his/her spouse to any meeting he is in attendance.
flutterpie flutterpie 8 years
On the list of important issues this country needs to be worried about right now, this is pretty much on the bottom for me. I wasn't afraid that Laura Bush was making policy on behalf of libraries or the women of Afghanistan and I'm not worried about Michelle Obama. i competely agree with you steph, first ladies have been doing things like this for years. why werent these same republicans trying do this during laura bush's tenure?
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
The first spouses policy work will always be private to some degree, it's called pillow talk.
stephley stephley 8 years
On the list of important issues this country needs to be worried about right now, this is pretty much on the bottom for me. I wasn't afraid that Laura Bush was making policy on behalf of libraries or the women of Afghanistan and I'm not worried about Michelle Obama.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
Yes her name was on the marriage license, but it wasn't on the ballot, right? The bottom line is she wasn't elected, he was. If she wants to be a force for policy changes, get elected. I think she would get elected fairly easily, but it's the first step.
kscincotta kscincotta 8 years
And her name was on his marriage license. People knew they came as a set. It's not like we elected BO and were surprised that Michelle got to live in the White House too.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
"You can make the same arguments that we didn't elect Joe Biden as VP either. " But we did. His name was on the ballot. The people made a choice.
fuzzles fuzzles 8 years
Grandpa, I'm out. Something about lights. ;)
fuzzles fuzzles 8 years
Grandpa Grandpa 8 years
fuzzles fuzzles 8 years
As long as you stay away from the lube!
Grandpa Grandpa 8 years
Do I get a seat up front? :speedy: ;-)
fuzzles fuzzles 8 years
Grandpa, You just want to be invited to the women's naughty wear party. Admit it. ;)
Grandpa Grandpa 8 years
jill, any discussions between a husband and wife should be privileged. No one is saying a president can't have his/her spouse as a confidant. I frankly do not care if the spouse is invited to any meeting the president has with others. The problem is a spouse having separate meetings, making who knows what policy decisions, without the public having a clue, as to what was discussed and with whom until after the policy is implemented.
em1282 em1282 8 years
You can't really marry your way to the top if you've married your spouse however many years ago, and if you met that person while you were still in school. Marrying your way to the top is a phrase that's best suited for someone who's, uh, probably the polar opposite of someone like Michelle.
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